The past few years I’ve been doing a lot of pond fishing. There are tons of different baits on the market. And you know how the saying goes… Most baits are designed to catch more fishermen than fish. I have fallen for a handful of those gimmicky baits. Some work well, and others are trash.
I’m going to go through some of the top producing fishing baits for ponds, and hopefully prevent you from wasting money like I have.
What Fish Do You Want to Catch?
First things first. What’s your target? Do you want to catch trout, bass, bluegill, catfish, carp, or something else?
If you don’t know that you want to catch, or even what kinds of fish live in your pond, then I have a bait that will catch anything.
I won’t make you wait, the answer is bread.
Bread has it’s downsides. But I’ll get into that and how to use bread effectively for a variety of fish.
Bread Is The Best Fishing Bait For Ponds.
Ok lets get into fishing with bread, and why it’s the best fishing bait for ponds.
Ponds have ducks. And people like to feed ducks bread. As they are feeding ducks, some of the bread is going to sink, or be missed by the ducks.
That’s where fish get a chance. This daily or weekly duck feeding has the same effect as chumming.
And on top of that, the splashing and quacking of the feeding ducks is like a dinner bell to a fish.
It seems that all fish love bread. So the issue here is that it’s hard to target just one species.
If there are a lot of bluegill in the water, then you’ll have a hard time getting past them to the bigger fish.
If there aren’t bluegill, then bread is my number one fishing bait for trout in ponds.
How To Fish With Bread
Not all breads are the same, and some work better than most. You need very moist bread. dry bread will crumble off the hook.
A common bread that works well is Wonder Bread. You can find it at almost all stores and it has a nice moist rubbery texture that forms well into balls.
To improve bread for use as bait, microwave a slice for 8-10 seconds in a plastic bag.
When you pull it out of the microwave, take it out of the plastic bag and allow it to air out and cool down for a few seconds. If you don’t do this then the bread will stick to the bag.
From that point you can tear off a piece of bread and mash it onto your hook if you want it to sink, Or keep if fluffy if you want it to float.
My favorite way to fish bread is to smash the slice flat, then punch out a circle with a straw.
Then I put that little flattened bread pellet on my hook.
After the bread pellet has been in the water for a minute or so, it’ll absorb water and puff back to it’s original size.
Keep the bread sealed off from the open air. I’ll dry out and become useless in a matter of minutes. You can use a zip lock bag. I use a wooden box I made.
Best Trout Fishing Bait For Ponds
Many ponds are stocked with trout. Trout are small compared to carp and catfish, but they are still loads of fun to catch!
Stocked trout are fairly easy to catch and will take a number of different baits. I’ll talk about some of the best.
Not many people use bread for trout. Actually I’ve never heard of anyone using bread for trout… But I have found that it works amazingly.
The problem is that if there are bluegill or other small fish, they’ll almost always get to it before a trout can.
Worms are a classic. And that’s because trout love them.
Here are a few tips to have better success catching trout with worms…
Use small worms. The dinky 3 inch worms you find under a log will help you hook into more trout than using one of those big 8 inch night crawlers you buy at Walmart.
The problem with big worms is that stocked trout aren’t big enough to fit the whole thing into their mouth, so they’ll just pull at the tail giving you a false bite and you’ll miss the hookset.
Use small hooks. A sharp, size 12 bait holder hook is perfect for stocked trout on worms.
Learn more about trout hooks here.
Use thin line. 4 pound test fluorocarbon line is perfect for stocked trout. You can use 2 pound, but you’ll have more tangling issues, and you’ll have to check your line often for damage.
Learn more about fishing line for trout here.
My final tip is to use a sensitive float. This goes for all float fishing for trout. Use the smallest float you can get away with. Thin cigar floats are better than round ones.
Stick to foam floats, they are much more durable than the plastic ones.
This is another classic. I use Powerbait and similar products then I want to fish from the bottom up.
If it’s a hot sunny day and the fish seem to be deep, then this is the way to reach them.
Powerbait floats, so although it can be used with a bobber and splitshot, it is best reserved for the sliding sinker rig.
Trout generally eat food suspended in the water. So you want to keep your bait up off the bottom. If you want to fish a worm deep, then try combining it with a Powerbait marshmallow. These are super buoyant and can float most worms.
For more trout fishing bait ideas check out this article!
Best Bass Fishing Bait For Ponds
Bass are usually fished for using lures and soft plastics. However, they can also be caught on live bait.
Live bait like bluegill, minnows and shad are the best bait for catching bass in ponds.
Bass are ambush predators and naturally eat baitfish as their main diet.
If there are bass in a pond, then there are likely bluegill. You can catch bluegill with a small size 12 hook and cheese or bread as bait. (More on catching bluegill below).
Hook the bluegill through the back between the dorsal fin and the tail. Use a J-hook around size 1/0 depending on the size of your bait. Make sure there aren’t any scales stuck on the hook point.
Fish the live blue gill under a float large enough that the bluegill can’t pull it under. Here is a good live bait float rig:
This rig allows you to control the depth of your bluegill.
Float fishing with live baitfish is best for bass since you want to bring your bait to them.
If your bait is pinned down to one point with a sinker, then the chances of it ending up in front of a bass is slim.
Bass also love worms. This is where those big 8 inch night crawlers come into play.
Bass have big mouths and attack aggressively. They’ll easily take in a large worm and hook in a single gulp.
Using big worms and hooks will also keep bluegill off your hook.
You can use a worm under a bobber, or if you want to get fancy thread it onto your line and work it around cover like a soft plastic.
You’ll need a worm threader if you want to thread it on your line. This makes it impossible for bluegill to steal your worm, so if you are having a lot of worms stolen, this may be the solution.
Another way to fish worms is with a dropshot rig.
The dropshot rig is good when your worms aren’t very lively.
You can work this rig around cover and give the worm a lot of action by bouncing your rod tip.
The sinker should be bouncing along the bottom, so be careful not to get snagged up.
Best Catfish Fishing Bait For Ponds
Catfish do really well in ponds. Warmer states like Arizona, and Texas, will stock ponds with catfish rather than trout.
Catfish are much more hardy than trout, and can survive in warmer waters.
Channel catfish are the most popular catfish to be stocked in ponds.
They are also pretty easy to catch with the right bait.
Channel catfish will eat just about anything. And if they can smell it, they’ll come by and eat it. This is why stink baits are so popular with channel catfish.
Chicken liver can be considered a stink bait. It gives off a strong scent trail which draws catfish in.
The juicy, bloodiness of the liver attracts the catfish as a high protein snack.
Livers are soft and difficult to keep on the hook. Here is a great video from catsandcarp.com describing a few ways to hook it.
If you watched the video you can see how messy and tedious it can be to use chicken livers.
Although they work great, I prefer using jello hotdogs…
These may be sticky, but at least they aren’t stinky. jello hotdogs are my go-to bait for channel catfish in ponds.
They are cheap and easy to prepare.
Just buy the cheapest pack of hotdogs you can find, cut them into 2 inch pieces and put them in a big zip lock bag.
Next, add one pack of your favorite jello powder, and mix everything up well.
Use a 5/0 circle hook. Thread the hotdog onto your leader and over the hook shank like so…
You’ll just need a baiting needle. I made one out of a sewing needle and a piece of wood. Just cut open the eye of the needle.
Threading the hotdog on like this, helps keep it on the hook when casting. It also keeps the hook gap open which is important to hooking a catfish.
I just want to mention real quick that in the right circumstances, bread can catch you a lot of channel catfish in ponds.
The difficulty again is keeping the bluegill away.
I have had nights where I was catching dozens of channel catfish within seconds of every cast just using bread, a sensitive float and a 12 foot crappie rod.
In fact I wasn’t even casting but rather dipping it straight down into the water at the end of my 12 foot crappie rod.
This method may not work in most ponds, but I just want to use it as an example that bread can be an absolute killer fishing bait in ponds for catfish.
For more catfish bait and tips check out this article!
Best Carp Fishing Bait For Ponds
Carp are another hardy fish that do well in ponds. They can grow fairly big even in smaller ponds if there is a good food source.
Carp are probably the biggest and most powerful fish to catch in most ponds.
Using pack bait is by far the best fishing bait for carp in ponds.
There are many different recipes for pack bait out there. Here is a simple one to get started.
Mix the following ingredients in a bucket
- 18 oz. of instant grits
- 24 oz. of quick grits
- 2 cups of Karo syrup
How To Use Pack Bait
Pack bait is called such because it is designed to be packed into a ball around your sinker and hook baits.
You still need to use a hook bait such as a piece of corn, but the pack bait is there to act like chum.
Once you cast it out, it’ll begin to break apart. This leaves a nice pile of food focused right around your hook bait. It’s easier for the carp to find that way.
You can also chum with just straight pack bait. Just form it into some balls and toss them right around there you plan to fish.
Corn is a classic carp bait. Carp love this stuff. It’s bright and easy to find, and it puts off a good bit of scent.
Corn it easy to use because you can put it right on your hook. Just thread a couple pieces on a size 10 to 12 bait holder hook.
The downside to corn is that a lot of other fish like it. And worst of all, turtles love it.
If you are catching turtles, then use a hair rig. They are easy to tie and although turtles can still steal your corn, at least you won’t be hooking them.
As you see above, the corn is attached to the hook with a line. That is called the hair. The hook itself isn’t in the bait. This keeps turtles off the hook and actually works very well for hooking carp.
You’ll need a baiting needle for this.
Check out this article on carp bait for more tips and recipes!
Best Bluegill Fishing Bait For Ponds
The first fish I ever caught were bluegill. They can be found in most parts of the US. They are a great fish for children and beginners.
They can also be a lot of fun for advanced anglers who just want to do some easy fishing.
Bread is the best fishing bait I have used for bluegill in ponds. This is especially true if the bluegill get a lot of fishing pressure.
Sometimes they’ll wise up about worms and won’t eat them. But few people use bread, and so it can be real deadly.
Be sure to microwave it just as I instructed at the beginning of this article. Then punch out circles with a straw, or just break of small pieces to smash and put on your hook.
Use a size 12 hook for bluegill. You’ll actually catch more with a size 14 or 16, but hooks that small almost always gut hook bluegill.
Cheese is the bait I used as a little kid. It works great. The bright color is sure to attract them, and the flavor will keep them biting.
Use the fake cheese like Kraft Singles. It forms into a ball better.
Cheese is still a little difficult to keep on the hook, so that’s why I bumped it down below bread.
Worms are a good bluegill bait, especially if they haven’t been fished for much.
They stay on the hook better than bread or cheese.
Use a piece of worm just big enough to fit in the bluegills mouth. If your worm is too long, then the bluegill will just pick at the tail until they pull it off the hook.
I prefer bread over worms because bread is cheaper, less messy, and catches more fish.