Best Baits for Striped Bass

Striper anglers typically rely on a handful of go-to live baits.

Striped Bass Release
Striper anglers rely on a handful of go-to live baits.John Frazier

There are a lot of bait options when fishing for striped bass, and each angler you come across will have their own list of favorites. The best baits for striped bass largely depend on location and the time of the year you're fishing, but usually all striper anglers have a few favorites they continue to rely on.

Bunker and Herring as Striped Bass Bait

Most anglers will list bunker, properly called menhaden, as their top choice of live bait for catching striped bass. A close second are herring. We're lumping these fish into the same category because they're very similar and they're both very effective at enticing stripers. Unfortunately finding these fish at the bait shop can be tough, and most anglers wind up having to catch their own for live bait.

Fishing for Stripers with Live Eels

Live eels act as great bait for striped bass, but they’re not the easiest to fish with. Their slime makes them difficult to handle and they’re often at fault for causing knots in your line. The cost of buying live eels is also a drawback as they often come with a hefty price tag.

With all that said, striped bass love live eels, and you can fish them in a variety of ways. Eels can be trolled or drifted, and fished deep with weights or shallow with a float. Perhaps the best part of fishing with live eels is that small striped bass rarely attack them. So if you’re looking for big stripers and you have the patience to handle them, live eels are a great way to go.

Fishing with Crabs

It's not surprising that crabs made our list of the best baits for striped bass because let's face it, what fish doesn't like a good crab. If you really want to make a stripers day, you'll fish with soft crabs that have shed their shell versus the hardshell variety, but both will work. Using crabs to catch striped bass works best when fishing in areas known for hatching them, and therefore this bait often works better in the South than in the North.

Showing Off a Striped Bass
Stripers are opportunistic feeders, and they tend to focus on bait that’s plentiful and readily available.John Frazier

Other Striped Bass Baits

Additional live bait options for catching stripers includes clams, bloodworms, sandworms, mullet, and croakers. Fishing with these baits is especially effective when you’re casting in areas where they’re naturally found. Some are more expensive than others, and price might be your primary determining factor when selecting baits for stripers, but all of them work well against striped bass.

The most important part to remember is that stripers are opportunistic feeders, and they tend to focus on bait that's plentiful and readily available. If you're having a hard time with live bait, perhaps it might be time to try your luck one of the best lures for striped bass.