Can I Use Cheese as Fish Bait?

Your fishing buddy was supposed to bring the bait, but they thought you were going to bring it. Now nobody has it. You didn’t bother to pack any bobbers or jigs since you thought you wouldn’t need to. Do you have to cancel your day of fishing or can you use something from your cooler as bait such as cheese?

Yes, cheese is a smart bait option in a pinch and something that anglers have relied on for a long time. Stronger-smelling cheeses will elicit a bigger reaction than milder cheeses since the fish can smell them. Catfish, trout, bluegill, barbel, tench, carp, and chub are especially eager to eat cheese!

Huh, you had never figured that cheese was a usable fish bait option, but now that you know, you’re eager to try it. Then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about which types of cheese to put on your fishing line and how to do it. Keep reading! 

Can You Use Cheese as Bait to Catch Fish?

The scenarios described in the intro are a common enough plight of fishermen and women. If you didn’t forget the bait outright, you could have miscalculated how much you’d need, and you run out midway through a day of fishing. Yet when the fish are biting, the last thing you want to do is steer the boat to shore.

Using people food as bait is widely favored among anglers. Of all the food you could slide onto your hook, cheese is among the most popular choices, and there are a few reasons for that.

For one, cheese is usually not too expensive. It’s also readily available so you can fish with it all year long, even during the times of the year when you might not be able to find live bait. 

If you can, it’s always better to use worms, minnows, and other live bait that’s intended for fish than it is cheese. Although cheese isn’t saturated in salt like hot dogs and ham (both of which we’ve written about recently), dairy products are not a normal part of a fish’s diet. Occasional use though should be okay.  

What Kinds of Cheese Are Suitable as Fish Bait?

What if you have rather refined tastes when it comes to cheese and the kind that’s in your sandwich is quite sharp or tangy? That’s okay! It’s also fine if you like smelly cheese or milder cheese.

In short, fish will go for any type of cheese you use as bait. However, the stronger the odor of the cheese, the more fish you could attract. Here are some types of cheese to consider using.

Cheddar Cheese

A classic hard cheese, you love the sharpness of cheddar, but you’re not the only one. Fish will come biting for this cheese thanks to its strong flavor. Although the odor of cheddar isn’t the strongest, fish can smell it well enough that they should be easier catches if you put some cheddar on the line. 

Blue Stilton Cheese

Blue cheese is admittedly an acquired taste, but if you like the stilton variety, it’s certainly strong enough to get the fishing biting. However, this cheese is more expensive than cheddar, especially if you get yours imported. 

Danish Blue Cheese

If you’re looking for more affordable blue cheese, you can always try the Danish variety. This looks a lot like stilton blue cheese but with a sharp and tangy flavor. The fish will certainly enjoy it! 

Which Fish Are Attracted to Cheese?

If you use cheese as fish bait, what kind of fish can you expect to reel in for the rest of the day? A huge roster of fish likes cheese; here’s the full list. 


The bullhead is a type of catfish, and so, like any catfish, it will eat nearly anything you give it. Yes, that includes cheese. You’ll find bullheads in lakes, rivers, and ponds with low oxygen content and brackish waters. Their diet usually consists of crayfish, fruit, grains, smaller fish, insects, and dead creatures, so cheese is a welcome break. 


Your mouth always waters for a delicious baked trout. To increase your chances of catching this fish, try some cheese as bait. This just might be preferable to this fish species than the live corn worms or waxworms you typically use.  


As a type of panfish, the bluegill is sizable enough that your belly will be full when you cook ‘em for dinner. Before that, you have to catch this blue-hued fish, and cheese could be just the bait to help you do it.


The barbel is a freshwater fish that lives in slow-moving rivers with rocky floors. Admittedly, reeling in a barbel is difficult since they’re quite strong and will fight you every inch of the way. You might be able to placate an especially tough barbel by adding some cheese on your fishing hook.  


Sometimes referred to as the doctor fish, tench favor waters with muddy or clay substrates and lots of reeds and other vegetation to hide in. By fishing with cheese as bait, you could lure out and catch more tench! 


Although carp is a rather common fish, it’s still always a good feeling to reel something in over nothing, so carp will do. Try using cheese as your bait of choice and see if you get more carp biting than usual. 


Chub usually eats algae, aquatic insect larvae, and zooplankton. From the bigeye chub to the lake chub, this fish appreciates a shakeup in its diet, and that’s exactly what cheese is. Fun fact: you can use the lake chub itself as bait for larger fish! 

Tips for Using Cheese as Fish Bait

Okay, you’ve got some cheese and you’re curious to see if you’ll get more pulls on your line once you use it as bait. Make sure you follow these tips!  

Roll Softer Cheese into a Ball

Soft cheese such as blue cheese cannot go onto your fishing hook as is. Instead, you need to roll it in your palm or between two fingers until it gets firmer. Then lodge the cheese ball onto your hook and push it down so the tip of the hook is visible. 

Use Chunks of Harder Cheese

If you’re fishing with cheddar, you can’t exactly roll it into a ball. Instead, break off a solid chunk and slip it onto the hook. Once again, you want the hook’s point unobscured. 

Make Cheese Paste Bait 

What if all you have handy is super soft cheese such as cream cheese? You can make what’s known as cheese paste bait. 

Combine the cream cheese with a bit of bread, rolling and mixing in your hand until it becomes paste-like. Some fishermen and women add flavorings like paprika or curry powder to make the cheese paste bait even more irresistible to fish. 

No Cheese? No Problem! These Other Sandwich Ingredients Can Work as Bait

If you didn’t pack any cheese with your sandwich today, that doesn’t mean you can’t use other food as bait. These parts of your sandwich will attract all sorts of fish. 


We’ve talked about using bread as fish bait in several articles, but it’s worth mentioning again here only because it’s so effective. You can make it into groundpaste with cream cheese as we described in the last section or roll it into a dough ball and slide it onto your hook. 

A huge variety of fish love bread as bait, including thicklip grey mullet, carp, common shiner, pumpkinseed, bluegill, and crappie. 


If you missed our post on ham as fish bait, please go back and give it a read! Ham is awfully high in sodium and preservatives, but it’s a good choice for fish bait if you don’t have anything else handy. 


Catfish love cheese, but almost as much, they enjoy chicken as well. It’s all the grease and fat of the skin, so don’t discard those chicken skins even if you don’t want to eat them. You can also use chicken meat, but the skin stays on the fishing hook more easily. 


Most wild fish eat algae, so it should come as no surprise that tomatoes and other veggies are palatable. You might be able to catch fish species such as bighead carp and silver carp with some greens. 

Final Thoughts

Cheese as fish bait might seem like an unconventional choice, but right along with bread, it’s one of the most popular foods to use when live bait is unavailable. Remember, the smellier the cheese, the better! 

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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