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How to Catch Goldfish With a Fishing Pole

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Believe it or not, you can catch goldfish with a fishing pole! It’s actually pretty easy if you know a few tricks. I have caught hundreds of goldfish and found two baits that they can’t resist. If you have a pond nearby that you know has some released goldfish in it, then I’m going to tell you exactly what to do to catch them.

Here are the 5 steps to catch a goldfish:

  1. Find a pond with goldfish in it.
  2. Feed some ducks to attract the goldfish.
  3. Pinch small bread balls that will sink to the bottom.
  4. Put bread or mashed potatoes on your hook and adjust your bobber so that the bait is touching the bottom of the pond.
  5. Set the hook at the slightest indication of the bobber.

Where Can I Catch Goldfish?

fishing for goldfish

You can try fishing for them in bass ponds or other places where it might be popular to use them as bait.

This can be a little bit tricky. Goldfish do not exist naturally in the US, nor are they widespread like carp. Your best bet is to search your local fishing forums and see if anyone knows of a spot.

Goldfish get into ponds because pet owners don’t want to take care of them anymore, or because anglers use them as bait, and they escape. In many states it is illegal to use live bait such as goldfish. They can take over and be destructive, so never introduce them to a new pond. This could be extremely illegal.

The best goldfish pond I have found happened to be in Rexburg, Idaho in the small community fishing pond. It was a college town and my guess is students bought goldfish during the semester, then when it was time to move home, they let them go in the pond and they reproduced rapidly.

Not good for the environment, but I had a lot of fun catching them!

On another note, don’t fish private ponds without permission.

Attract The Goldfish

This step isn’t required, but it really helps.

If there are a lot of ducks in the pond, and it’s common for people to feed them bread, then you are in luck!

As people feed ducks bread, there will be pieces of bread that the ducks will miss and sink to the bottom. The goldfish have likely learned this, and will come swarming when they hear the splashing and feeding calls of the ducks. It’s just like a dinner bell!

After you get the ducks to make a bunch of noise, start tossing in pieces of bread that you pinch into a ball so that the sink right away. Then, let the ducks clear the area. You don’t want to try fishing in the middle of the ducks or else you might hook one.

This is probably considered chumming, so check your states regulations to make sure chumming is allowed in your state.

What Bait To Catch Goldfish?

how to catch goldfish

There are two baits that are work so incredibly well and are so cheap, that there is no need to consider anything else.

The First Bait is Bread

catch goldfish with bread as bait

Obviously, since you just chummed with bread, this is what the goldfish are desperately looking for when they heard the ducks.

Bread is fairly easy to use. I microwave it for 10 seconds in a plastic bag then smash it flat.

When I’m ready to bait my hook, I use a drinking straw to punch out a little circle of bread which I put on my hook. Sometimes I’ll use a few of these pieces of bread if the hook is a little bigger.

The reason I microwave the bread is to make it a little more rubbery so it stays on the hook better.

Use a very moist white bread. I recommend using Wonder Bread. If the bread is too dry or has grains in it, then it won’t stay on the hook.

The Second Bait is Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potato fishing bait to catch goldfish

Instant mashed potatoes are much more difficult to use than bread, and only work slightly better. But if chumming isn’t allowed, then this can be a great method!

The reason is that the mashed potatoes will easily fall off the bait. You can dip your baited hook in the water, and after a minute or so, if you don’t have a bite, just pull the hook out of the water quickly and the bait will fall off and stay on the bottom to continue attracting fish. Most states do not consider this as chumming.

Using mashed potatoes is something I learned from the Japanese.

In Japan, one of the most popular and traditional sport fish is the crucian carp or “herabuna” in Japanese.

These are very closely related to the common goldfish, except that they are white and silver in color rather than orange or gold.

Some of the most popular baits used for herabuna are made mainly out of instant potato flakes and gluten.

Japanese fishing bait
Japanese Potato Gluten Bait

It’s difficult to find these baits in the US, but I figured out how to make a simple mix on my own.


I usually start with one cup of instant potato flakes and mix in one tablespoon of wheat gluten. After those are mixed, add one cup of water and mix it in well. Lastly, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Wheat gluten can be found in most grocery stores near the flour and baking section.

You can adjust the texture of the bait by increasing or decreasing the amount of gluten you add. The more gluten, the more dough-like the bait will become. The less gluten, the faster it will dissolve. The mixture I gave above is pretty much the minimum amount of gluten to potato you can get away with. Any less and it won’t form a ball.

!!!You can’t cast with mashed potatoes!!!

This instant mashed potato and gluten mix will not stay on the hook well enough to be cast out with western techniques. Instead, the Japanese use long poles that allow them to gently dip the baited hook into the water.

I have used these long poles. My preferred length is 12 feet long. This allows me to reach quite a bit of water, without being too heavy. You can get these long poles in the US as well. Just look for crappy fishing poles. These are a little different than the Japanese style poles, but I have one that works great.

You may not need a long pole. I have caught many goldfish on 6 and 7 foot long poles. So you may be fine with what you already have. It really depends on the pond. If the water gets a couple feet deep within reach, then you are fine.

If you need to cast, then use bread instead of potatoes.

a goldfish I caught

Adjust Your Bobber

This is a major key if you want to catch goldfish. In my experience, goldfish in ponds will only eat bait that is on the bottom.

However, a bottom rig like a sliding sinker, doesn’t work very well. Goldfish have a very light bite, and you need to be able to detect that bite as soon as possible. Although a sliding sinker rig is fairly sensitive, it’s not quite good enough for goldfish.

But before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s talk about what bobber to use.

Bobber Selection

You will have much better luck with an ultra sensitive bobber. This is where the Japanese win again. Back in the days of the Samurai they developed the most sensitive floats possible. These are still used today by herabuna anglers.

micro fishing floats

That colorful antenna sticking out of the top of the body of the float is the only part that sticks out of the water. These are super cool, but I don’t want to get off topic..

The western equivalent is the Thill stick floats. The smaller the better.

If you want to stay cheap, go with a weighted cigar bobber. Again, the smaller the better.

The reason I say the smaller bobbers are better, is because they take less force for the fish to move them. This is important because if the goldfish feels the pull of the big bobber when it tries to eat the food, then it will likely spit it back out.

Also, the smaller more sensitive bobbers will show you even the lightest bite so you won’t miss your chance.

Set The Depth

Now that you know what bobber to use, let’s talk about depth.

In the western world, it seems very strange to use a bobber when trying to bottom fish. But for the Japanese, this is very normal.

To figure out the depth of the spot you are fishing, put your bobber and hook on the line, then pinch a large splitshot onto your hook. Set the distance between your bobber and the hook to your best guess that would allow your hook to rest on the pond bottom but still allow your bobber to be floating on the surface.

Now, dip your hook and line straight down into the water where you plan to fish. Watch your line carefully. You should be able to tell When the splitshot and your hook hit the bottom.

If they hit bottom before your bobber touches the surface of the water, then pull it back out and slide your bobber down the line.

If the bobber is too low, then you should be able to see the weight of the hook and splitshot pulling the bobber down. Just pull it out and slide your bobber up the line.

Keep making these adjustments until the bobber can float on the surface but the hook and splitshot are resting on the bottom like an anchor, and the line in between is fairly straight.

bobber bottom rig to catch goldfish

In most cases the bottom of the pond will not be flat with an even depth everywhere, so you will be stuck to fishing that exact spot unless you want to start over and re-adjust. Keep this in mind when you are choosing your spot to fish. It’s better to have your line a couple inches long than a couple inches short.

Now We’re Fishing!

fishing for goldfish

Remove the splitshot from the hook and add your bait.

We’ve gotten through hard part of setting everything up. Now the actual catching part should be easy.

place your baited hook in the same spot every time. If you are using mashed potatoes, then they will stay on your hook for about 30 seconds to a minute, so re-bait your hook often. As you do this, you’ll build up a nice little pile of mashed potatoes on the bottom of the pond. This will act like chum to bring fish in.

If you are using bread, it will stay on the hook longer. depending on the texture of the bread, and how hard you smash it, it will last anywhere from about 1 to 20 minutes. Toss a few small pieces of bread in around the spot to chum fish in.

If you fed the ducks, and chummed the area, then a good pond won’t take more than 5 minutes to produce a goldfish. However, if you aren’t catching anything in 30 minutes, consider trying a different spot. Try near vegetation, sun, shade, or shallow water.

Goldfish tend to school up. If you catch one, you just might catch 100 by the end of the day in that same spot.

Still No Goldfish?

With this method and bait, goldfish are pretty easy to catch if they are there. If you aren’t catching any, and you have tried all the tricks above, then there may not be any goldfish in the pond.

You can still use a lot of what you learned here to catch bluegill. And bluegill are much more widespread across the US. My technique for bluegill is slightly different though. Here is an article I wrote all about how to catch bluegill.

By John

Hi I'm John. I'm the author of I have been obsessed with fishing since my dad took me to catch bluegill in the creek as a little kid, over 20 years ago. I love learning and perfecting all kinds of fishing techniques. I have spent time living in different countries learning their unique traditional fishing methods, and then combining the best of all worlds to catch as many fish as possible. My hope is that this website can help you, or someone you are teaching, to have a better fishing experience early on so that you too can be hooked into this wonderful sport.