Do Bass Eat Shrimp? Is It A Good Freshwater Bait?


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If you are planning to go on a fishing trip, one of the most important things for you to have is the right kind of bait. Of course, today we are talking about bass fishing, but this rule holds true no matter the kind of fish you are going for. The right bait will make catching any fish much easier, and that includes bass.

Yes, there are a lot of bait options for you to consider, with one very popular one being shrimp. So, do bass eat shrimp, and do shrimp make for good bass bait? Yes, both largemouth, and smallmouth bass absolutely love these little crustaceans and they make for an excellent bait choice. Shrimp are just as effective as other popular bass baits like minnows and crayfish.

Will Largemouth Bass Eat Shrimp?

largemouth bass

As mentioned above, yes, largemouth bass will eat shrimp, and so will smallmouth bass. However, there is an important distinction to note here, and it has to do with the type of shrimp that you are using as bait.

What you need to remember here is that bass are freshwater fish, and exclusively so. You won’t find any bass swimming in the ocean.

That said, most people, when they think of shrimp, think of those little pink things that swim around in the ocean. Well, this is of course true, at least partially.

Did you know that there are also plenty of freshwater shrimp out there? Yes, there are more of the saltwater variety than freshwater, but the freshwater kind do still exist.

Seeing as bass are freshwater fish, they are only used to seeing other freshwater animals. If you use saltwater shrimp to try and lure in a big bass, it probably won’t work.

A freshwater fish is not going to be inclined to chomp down on an animal that smells salty, one that they have never encountered before.

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Remember, fish are weary of everything and super skittish. Therefore, if you plan on catching a bass with shrimp, make sure that it is a freshwater shrimp.

All of that said, freshwater shrimp is known as being some of the best largemouth bass bait around.

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Cooked OR Raw Shrimp: Which is Better?

You may also be wondering whether to use raw or cooked shrimp for fishing. Well, both can be used, and both have their advantages and drawbacks.

On one hand, a cooked shrimp is going to be less slippery, and it makes it easier to get the thing on the hook.

Moreover, once you have it on the hook, because the cooking process caused the shrimp to become much firmer, it will stay on the hook much better too.

Yes, a cooked shrimp still has an odor, as well as that bright pink color, so it should work fine to lure in some bass.

With all of that said, a raw shrimp has way more of a scent to it, as well as that slimy residue that they have on them.

All of that slime and stink is essential for luring fish in from relatively far distances, much more effective than a cooked and dried out shrimp.

On that same note, a cooked shrimp, although that pink color may be eye-catching, it doesn’t look natural.

Remember, bass have never encountered cooked crustaceans, and depending on the temperament of the fish, it might be too weary to go for a cooked shrimp.

When it comes down to it, this is really a trial-and-error kind of thing. Some people find that they have more luck with cooked shrimp, and some do better with raw shrimp.

If you are going to use shrimp as bass bait, we recommend taking a few cooked and a few raw ones with you to see what works best for your situation.

How to Bait a Hook with a Frozen Shrimp

Ok, so baiting a hook with a raw or cooked shrimp is child’s play. However, how do you put a frozen shrimp on a hook?

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The issue with frozen shrimp is that they are slippery, and of course, frozen solid, so not only is it hard to get them on the hook, but due to the hard and slippery surface of a frozen shrimp, when you go to cast your hook, chances are that frozen crustacean will fly right off.

We do not recommend using frozen shrimp, as it is just too much trouble, yet not impossible or undoable.

Getting the hook through the shrimp in the first place will take some work, a bit of digging and scraping, so we do recommend letting the shrimp thaw partially before trying this.

To stop the frozen shrimp from flying off the hook, you need to pass the hook all the way through the body of the shrimp, so that the long section of the hook is all the way through, with the curved end of the hook being below the body of the shrimp.

Then, shove the shrimp back down onto the end of the hook, so this way, you have the long part of the hook as well as the end of the hook inserted into the shrimp.

This will stop the shrimp from falling off the hook, but it may also stop the hook from actually hooking into a fish. Once again, using raw or cooked shrimp is recommended, but using frozen shrimp, while it can be done, is in no way convenient.

Let’s also keep in mind that frozen shrimp don’t move, they are dull and discolored, and they don’t have much a of scent either, all factors that will make it harder to attract and catch bass, or any fish for that matter.


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What Other Fish Can I Catch with Shrimp?

Shrimp don’t only serve as good bait for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Many fish love shrimp.

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Below is a list of the fish you may be able to catch using shrimp as bait.

  • Catfish
  • Panfish
  • Trout
  • Bluegills
  • Carp
  • Pompano
  • Snook
  • Redfish
  • Sea trout
  • Tarpon
  • Bonefish
  • Grouper
  • Flounder
  • Black drum

3 Other Good Bass Baits to Try

In case you don’t want to use shrimp for bass bait, for whatever reason, there are also many other baits that bass will go for.

Remember that bass are carnivores, so they like their bait to resemble the food they would normally eat, and they do prefer their bait to be live.

  1. What is often considered the best bass bait out there by far is the crawfish, a little crustacean that looks like a mix between a crab and a shrimp.
  2. Live fish of all kinds also make for great bass bait. Bass, especially largemouth, are known for loving minnows, shad, and shiners.
  3. Another great type of bait for largemouth bass is frogs.

What is important to note here is that bass are carnivores, they’re hungry, and they’re none too picky either.

As long as it can fit in their mouths, bass will eat all sorts of fish, crustaceans, insects, frogs, and even small birds too.


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The bottom line here is that yes, you can definitely use shrimp as bass bait, and this is true for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. We recommend using raw shrimp, and they should be alive if possible.

A raw and alive shrimp that is still wriggling on the hook and excreting all of those smells is your best bet at attracting a hefty bass.

Yes, cooked shrimp work too, but what we would avoid are frozen shrimp. They’re just too difficult to deal with and the results are questionable at best.

Related: Finding Bass Without Using A Fish Finder

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>