What Is The Best Thing To Put In a Fish Trap?

Fish traps are an excellent method of catching fish in any environment. Traps have been used for thousands of years, are considered culturally universal and have been independently invented and adapted by different people groups. This fishing method is tried and true, but what should you bait fish traps with if you want to use one yourself?

The best things to put in fish traps are bait items that attract multiple fish species and types. Minnows and other baitfish, fish carcasses, shellfish, shrimp, dog kibble, rabbit feed, table scraps, oatmeal, cooked maize bran, fish food, and even broccoli are all good bait options for fish traps. 

The best thing to put in a fish trap depends on what types of fish you want to catch, where you place your fish trap, the water your fish trap is in, and what the season is. However, there are several excellent bait options that work very well in fish traps. 

What Is The Best Bait For Fish Traps?

There are several options for fish trap bait that have been proven over the years to work very well. The great thing about fish traps is that they work passively and can be baited with various bait types if you are not concerned about the types of fish you bring in. 

If you use your fish traps correctly and if you know the right methods, you can even use them to catch bait for catching progressively larger fish 

With that said, there are some highly effective fish trap bait items that fishermen all over the world use in fish traps, regardless of where they are. 

Here are some of the very best bait items for fish traps, including items that work well for fish traps in home aquariums. 


Minnows should be at the top of the bait list for any fish trap intended to catch larger or predatory fish. Minnows are excellent bait because they are easy to find and easy to use, they stay alive for a good while, and they are active, attracting fish to the trap quicker. 

You can buy minnows from bait stores or fish stores, or you can catch them yourself. If you provide food for the minnows in your trap, they will survive for days, ensuring there is enough time to trap as many larger fish as possible. 

Minnows work well for trapping saltwater and freshwater fish, so long as the minnows can survive in the water. Minnows are best used in larger traps that are intended for larger predatory fish. Minnows will not attract smaller fish, and they will not attract herbivorous fish.

minnow swimming in clear water


Minnows are certainly an excellent choice for fish traps, but the next best thing to minnows is any type of baitfish. 

Baitfish are usually unique to specific regions. If you are trying to catch some larger fish in your trap, find out what the baitfish in the area are, trap some, and put them in the fish trap. 

This is the very best and fastest way to catch impressive fish in a fish trap. Using baitfish from the area entices target fish very quickly, as they are actively looking for the baitfish and will do almost anything they can to get them. 

Baitfish are an excellent option for trap bait, but using this bait does require some good research and understanding of the areas you are trapping in and the type of fish you are targeting. 

Fish Carcasses 

Another excellent option for fish trap bait is fish carcasses. 

Almost all fish, big and small, are attracted to the fish carcass, particularly if they are raw. Fish carcasses attract small fish that will nibble on the carcass, in turn attracting larger fish to eat the smaller fish. 

The carcass will attract water insects which will attract more fish. Placing multiple fish carcasses in a larger trap for a few days will keep attracting fish, as the carcass will only smell stronger over time, and the fish in the trap will have something to eat to keep them alive over a longer period.

Fish carcasses work for fish traps in both freshwater and seawater and are highly regarded as a good trap bait option. 


Shellfish is another great way to attract small carnivorous or opportunistic fish. Cooked or raw, shellfish is a very good bait item for fish traps. 

Enjoy a meal of shellfish like crab or lobster, and instead of tossing the shells and scraps, save them for bait. Place the scraps in the fish trap to attract fish. 

You could even buy pre-cooked or frozen shellfish for bait and place them in the fish traps. Fish don’t discriminate and eat anything they can scavenge in your traps.

As with fish carcasses, shellfish will feed the smaller fish that enter the trap, keeping them alive for longer and are likely to attract larger fish into the trap.

crayfish on a rock


Shrimp works well as fish trap bait, as shrimp is already a staple food item for many fish species, especially marine fish. 

It is best to use dead shrimp for fish traps, or the shrimp are likely to move away. You can use frozen shrimp, shrimp tails, or even shrimp shells and scraps, depending on the type of fish you want to trap. 

The more shrimp you use in the trap, the better. Make sure to attach the shrimp firmly to the center of the trap, or the fish are likely to nibble on the shrimp through the sides of the trap if they can reach it. 


Crickets are another good bait item for trapping predatory fish, but they work especially well for freshwater fish. 

Freshwater fish are accustomed to eating insects on the surface of the water, near the water, or even insects that fly above the water, so crickets are a perfect bait item for these fish. 

The only trouble is that crickets are small and float, making them difficult to keep in one place inside the trap. 

If you can find a way to keep them securely placed in the trap, crickets will surely attract a wide variety of freshwater fish of varying sizes. 

Crickets are high in protein and are good for freshwater fish. This means that you can use the crickets to keep your fish healthy until you get to the trap to remove them. 

cricket insect on a green leaf

Dog Kibble

A decent fish trap bait item that most homes already have lying around is dog kibble. This works especially well due to the various sizes of dog kibble available and the fact that fish are attracted to kibble as a food source. 

Dog kibble is nutritious for most fish, and most brands remain whole in water for a long time until it eventually turns to mush, which ultimately attracts more fish. 

Place a few handfuls of dog kibble into a mesh bag in your fish trap, and it will slowly break down and dissolve into the water, attracting a variety of fish. 

You can even leave a few loose pieces in the trap to attract fish more quickly or scatter some small floating kibble near the entrance of the trap to pique the interest of fish and entice them into the trap. 

Canned Cat Food

Using canned cat food for bait is an old fisherman’s trick, but it works very well. This works especially well for carnivorous fish, and using the strongest-smelling cat food you can find is best. 

Canned cat food is especially good for trapping smaller fish, and many fishermen will use this method to catch baitfish that are then used to trap larger fish. 

This type of bait does not last long in the water, but it is a strong attractant and will quickly bring fish into the trap if you use it in the right place and at the right time. 

Rabbit Feed

Rabbit feed is an excellent bait item for fish traps in freshwater, especially when trapping fish species that primarily eat plant matter. 

Rabbit pellets are a form of plant matter food that is very condensed and lasts for a decent amount of time in the water, providing enough time for the fish to notice it and find it before it dissolves into the water. 

An added benefit of using rabbit feed is that these pellets usually include Alfalfa, which is known to attract certain fish species, especially in freshwater.

rabbit feed spilled from brown paper bag


Oatmeal is another good option for trapping herbivorous fish, and it seems to be very attractive for most fish species. The way oatmeal looks when it disperses into water tends to draw in a lot of fish, making this a highly effective method, especially in water that is slow-moving, such as lakes and dams. 

Oatmeal is a good source of food for herbivorous fish and works very well in fish traps. You can cook the oatmeal or leave it raw, but be sure to suspend the oatmeal in the center of the trap in a way that will keep it in one place as much as possible. 

Oatmeal also tends to work best in seasons where food is less abundant for wild fish. 

White Crackers

A classic fish trap bait item is white crackers, but these are mainly used for trapping fish in home aquariums, as white crackers do not last long in the water. 

However, with that said, if you want to trap your aquarium fish easily for the sake of moving them or cleaning the tank, using white crackers is an excellent method. 

Simply break up a few white crackers and place them into the fish trap. You will quickly find the fish entering the trap to retrieve the crackers, especially if you skip a feed before trapping the fish. 

You can use this method for wild fish if needed, but the crackers dissolve quickly in water and are not likely to attract many fish in a large body of water unless there is an extremely high fish population.

Cooked Maize Bran

Maize bran is a byproduct of grits and flour production and is extremely cheap. This product is very easy to find, and you can buy it in very large quantities for almost no money. 

Maize bran is an ideal bait option to trap a large number of fish, to bait many fish traps, or if you simply do not have funds for more expensive bait items. 

Cook the maize bran by boiling it in batches. This releases the fragrances and oils from the bran, making it more attractive to fish. Some fishermen are known to dye cooked maize bran to give it a color that is likely to bring in more fish. 

Place the cooked maize bran into a mesh bag or cloth, tie it closed, and suspend it in the center of the fish trap. 

The bran will slowly leach out of the bag or cloth, attracting fish quite quickly. This bait is likely to attract fish of various sizes and can be an excellent bait for trapping both baitfish and larger fish, depending on where the trap is used. 

Formulated Fish Food

A good bait to use for fish traps is formulated fish food. This bait is specifically designed for attracting and feeding fish and is ideally suited for most fish species, especially freshwater fish. 

You can use fish food for trapping fish in home aquariums and for trapping fish in the wild. 

The only trouble with this bait item is that it is expensive. This means baiting multiple traps, large traps, or large areas with fish food is very costly. 

The food is effective for several species of fish, and you are likely to catch a lot, but the cost of the food may outweigh the value of the fish that it brings in. Fish food also dissolves into the water quite quickly, so it must be tightly bundled to last long enough to be effective in traps. 

Table Scraps

A bait item that is very easy for everyone to get is table scraps. Save the scraps for your next meal, be it vegetable scraps, bones with meat scraps on them, bread, fruit, or any other items left over from a meal. 

Many fish are omnivorous, opportunistic, and curious. Most fish are attracted to a variety of food sources, and using table scraps is an easy and essentially free way to get bait for your traps. 

Bundle the scraps in a mesh bag or cloth and suspend them in the trap. These scraps are likely to attract a variety of fish species quickly and can be a very effective trap bait for all water and environments. 


The last two items on the list are somewhat unconventional, but they do work well for freshwater fish, and they can be very effective for trapping targeted herbivorous fish species. 

Zucchini is a surprisingly good trap bait item. Zucchini attracts most freshwater herbivorous fish species, especially when cooked and chopped finely. 

Zucchini is cheap and easy to find, and it is a very good trap item for baiting larger traps or multiple traps in fresh water. This bait will attract fish of various sizes and works very well for trapping baitfish. 


Broccoli is another surprisingly good bait item for fish traps, as it will likely attract more unusual species, such as smaller catfish. 

Broccoli is healthy for some fish species and can help prevent certain diseases, making it particularly attractive for freshwater fish. 

Bundle some cooked broccoli tightly, place it in your fish traps, and you may find yourself hauling out some very interesting fish. 

Broccoli does not dissolve quickly, lasts a long time in the water, and is likely to attract multiple fish of various sizes, especially in freshwater. This bait is also very cheap and very easy to find. You can even use old broccoli that has gone bad in the back of your fridge; the fish won’t mind at all!


Fish traps are easier to use than you may think and can be baited with almost anything. It is important to understand the fish you are trapping and the water conditions you are trapping in, but if you use the right bait, your traps can be very successful. 

Try various bait items until you find something that works for the water and fish you want to trap. It may require multiple attempts, but when you find the right bait, you will find your traps full of fish in no time!

Tommy Bull
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