Even though you know the stuff’s not good for you, you can’t get enough of the crispy crunch of cooked bacon. After a particularly dry day of fishing, you start to wonder if the fish swarming the water would feel as passionately about bacon as you do. Can you use bacon as fish bait?
Yes, you can use bacon as fish bait. Fish are proven to love meat products, ham among them, so bacon should be a big hit. If you’d rather not share your bacon, bacon grease or bacon fat (aka bacon lard) can also be effective.
Using bacon as bait is one of the best-kept secrets among anglers. Keep reading for tips on how to do it, why fish love it, and which species of fish you might help to catch with bacon.
Can You Use Bacon as Bait to Catch Fish?
You might have read our post about whether ham is effective fish bait. If you missed that article, here’s a spoiler: yes, fish love ham.
Ham is pork, and so is bacon. The difference between the two pork products isn’t only in preparation, but where the meat comes from. Ham is typically sourced from a pig’s hind leg whereas bacon is from other body parts, including the belly, collar, loin, or back. Essentially, bacon is meat from anywhere but the pig’s legs.
Before you go pulling cooked pieces of bacon from your breakfast sandwich or your BLT to toss to the fish, there’s something you should know. Cooked bacon does not garner much of a reaction in the water. The pork must be uncooked.
It doesn’t seem to matter which type of bacon you use, whether it’s Canadian bacon or American-style bacon. If it’s uncooked, fish will bite for it. That said, some anglers swear by hickory-smoked bacon for catching more fish.
You can always give that a try to test the theory for yourself.
Now, if the thought of using perfectly good raw bacon for fishing has you shaking your head, do know that it’s not your only option. Bacon byproducts might attract fish as well, such as bacon grease and bacon lard.
Bacon grease is that liquid that spatters all over your stovetop (and the rest of your kitchen) whenever you cook bacon. Many people collect bacon grease, as you’re not supposed to dump it down your kitchen sink or it can cause plumbing backups.
Besides sparing your sink, bacon grease is handy for frying foods like hash browns or burgers and even roasting vegetables.
Since bacon grease is just that–grease–you can’t exactly attach it to a fishing hook. What many anglers do is cover a bread ball in the stuff. The grease and the smell of bacon are hard for fish to pass on!
We also suggested bacon lard, which comes from bacon grease. The liquid grease, if left at room temperature for long enough, will become a mostly solid fat. Bacon lard is also referred to as bacon fat for this reason.
Since bacon lard can become grease again if it’s heated, you’re better off rubbing the stuff on a ball of bread or even an artificial lure rather than fighting with bacon lard to stay on your fishing hook. It won’t.
Which Fish Are Attracted to Bacon?
Fish that bite for ham should also bite for bacon. The oils and the grease will have them swarming. Here are the fish species you just might reel in when you use bacon as fishing bait.
The sheer size of catfish makes one an impressive catch. If you’ve had several catfishes on your line but they’ve gotten away, you just need to know what they like to eat. That answer is any people food.
Seriously, we mean just about anything. Catfishes are usually bottom-feeders, munching on detritus and other dead stuff. When you give them a piece of uncooked bacon or a bread ball slathered in bacon grease, they’re going to come to you, mouth agape.
A freshwater sunfish, the crappie is much smaller in size compared to catfishes but still a catch that will wow your fishing buddies. They’ll all want you to cook them some crappie, as this fish is supposed to have great flavor compared to other freshwater species.
Bigger bluegills are about a foot long, so although they’re panfish, they’re larger than many others. Despite their name, bluegills aren’t always blue, so if you see red, green, yellow, or orange fish active earlier at dawn and then later at dusk, it’s more than likely bluegill.
Bluegills will try to hide under vegetation, where they have access to smaller fish, insect larvae, water bugs, and crickets. If they see raw bacon floating on the horizon, you just might be able to pull bluegill away from its secure hiding place.
The bass species that most North American anglers come across include the spotted bass, the smallmouth bass, and the largemouth bass. All will love to nosh on raw bacon.
The spotted bass is a freshwater fish that measures about 25 inches long on average and can weigh up to 11 pounds. The fish prefers mountainous streams with cool temperatures as well as rocky seafloors. The spotted bass usually consumes small fish, annelid worms, frogs, crustaceans, and other insects.
Smallmouth bass shares the same family as sunfish. Freshwater dwellers, you’re likeliest to find smallmouth bass in the Hudson Bay Basin, the Saint Lawrence River-Great Lakes System, and the Middle and Upper Mississippi River Basin.
The largemouth bass is a frequent fish in freshwaters throughout Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Georgia. The fish weighs about 25 pounds on average and is nearly 30 inches in length!
The red-ear sunfish–known also as the improved bream and the shellcracker–is yet another freshwater fish that will bite for the smell and taste of bacon. These sunfish look like larger bluegills; you can tell the two species apart due to the former’s trademark red ears on either side of their head.
In freshwater rivers and lakes, trout are swimming abundantly for you to catch. The fish prefers cold waters up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the clearer the water, the better. Trout usually eat dragonflies, mollusks, caddisflies, mayflies, and other flies as well as invertebrates, so they’ll appreciate the dietary change that is raw bacon floating in the water.
Save some room in your cooler for a carp or two. Although in the US, carps have a reputation as an invasive species, at the very least, you can use bacon to catch and release some carps.
Tips for Catching Fish with Bacon
Are you ready to begin fishing with bacon today? Here are some tips for catching more fish with this pork product.
Remember, Keep It Raw
Although you couldn’t imagine sinking your teeth into raw bacon, for fish, it’s a must. Cooked bacon loses its grease, which makes it less potent to fish. As you store your raw bacon in your tacklebox or cooler, wrap it in plastic rather than paper towels so you don’t accidentally absorb the grease!
Choose the Fattiest Bits
Here’s something that will make you feel better about giving up your expensive bacon for the local fish. You don’t want to give them the parts with the leanest meat, but rather, the fatty bits. You typically don’t eat the fatty parts of bacon anyway, so this is no skin off your nose.
Fold the Bacon and Put on the Hook
Another reason you need raw bacon for fishing besides its increased grease is that it’s more easily handled. You couldn’t fold cooked bacon on a fishing hook; it would snap. Raw bacon is soft and pliable enough that you can rip off a thin strip and then fold it until you have a chunk of irresistible pork.
Want to Save Your Bacon? Surprising Items You Can Use for Fish Bait
Not a lot of anglers walk around with raw bacon in their pockets or their tackleboxes. Maybe next time you’ll try fishing with bacon, but you don’t have any right now.
In the same vein as bacon are plenty of interesting, even zany foods and items that fish respond to when on the end of a fishing hook. Spare your bacon and try these instead!
If you like to chew gum to pass the time while waiting for a pull on your line, bubblegum is the better pick for bait over chewing gum. Munch on a piece of bubblegum for a minute or two, but don’t let it run out of flavor.
The sweetness of the gum is what brings in fish such as trout and catfish. Yes, it’s a bit gross putting chewed bubblegum on your fishing hook, but it works! As for the sticky hook you’ll end up with afterward, that’s the price you pay for a cooler full of fish.
Another sticky sweet treat that’s effective is a campfire favorite, the marshmallow. Mini marshmallows are better sized for a fishing hook than their bigger counterparts. Bluegills and other sunfish like marshmallows, as do rainbow trout.
Some people classify marshmallows as candy; others don’t. Regardless, it’s not the only candy-like treat that fish will clamber for. Gummy candy and even chocolate will work, as will sour brite gummy worms because they’re brightly colored and worm-like.
Chocolate might have a short shelf life in the water before it gets funky, but gummies can last for a surprisingly long time. Yes, this means you could theoretically catch fish using Swedish Fish.
Okay, this one is kind of gross, but according to some anglers, it works insanely well. Whether you smoke cigarettes yourself or you don’t mind collecting random cigarette butts off the ground, the used butts are supposed to attract fish.
Speaking of gross, lots of people don’t like raisins. Why not try fishing with them as bait? Some anglers recommend golden raisins over the dark-colored kind, supposedly because golden raisins will swell when in the water. The swelling triggers a stinky fermentation process that should gain the attention of catfish.
Using bacon as fishing bait–if you can spare the thought of doing so–is a viable option. Always use uncooked bacon and select the fattiest parts. If you have bacon grease handy, you can use this or bacon fat so you can keep more bacon for yourself and still have plenty of fish to take home too!