Best Bait for Florida Bass Fishing

Explore the art of bass fishing and uncover the best baits that lure these elusive giants from the depths of Florida’s scenic waters. Get ready to enhance your fishing game and embark on an unforgettable journey into the world of bass fishing excellence! 

Bass fish jumping out of the river leaving splashes in the water.
A prized bass leaping out of the river during an evening sunset!

What is the best bait to catch bass in Florida?

When it comes to bass fishing in the Sunshine State, choosing the right bait is key to a successful angling experience. Florida’s diverse waterways offer a variety of habitats and understanding the preferences of bass in different environments is crucial. The St. Johns River is one such ecosystem; the “brackish” water of the St. Johns is a suitable environment for bass. Freshwater bass can tolerate brackish water, which is a mixture of freshwater and saltwater. The top go-to baits for bass enthusiasts in Florida consist of: 

Live Bait: using live bait for bass fishing can be highly effective, especially when targeting larger bass. Common live baits for bass include shiners, minnows and crawfish. 

Classic Plastic Worm: rigged Texas style for heavy cover or a finesse worm for clear waters, these versatile lures consistently attract bass. 

Topwater lures: such as frogs and poppers, shine in Florida’s shallow waters, enticing explosive strikes from hungry bass. 

Swimbait: mimicking the natural movements of prey fish, making it irresistible to bass lurking in deeper areas.

Mastering the art of selecting the best bait will undoubtedly lead to thrilling encounters with Florida’s prized bass population.

Bass fish being caught by bait and lifted out of the river.
A bass being successfully caught by bait during a day fishing on the river!

What is the best time for bass fishing in Florida?

In the bass fishing haven of Florida, pinpointing the best month for angling largely depends on the local climate and the behavior of the bass. Generally, many anglers find that spring is a prime season for bass fishing in the Sunshine State. As the water temperature begins to rise, bass become more active, moving into shallower areas to spawn. This period, typically from March to May, offers excellent opportunities to hook sizable bass. However, Florida’s mild climate means bass can be caught year-round. As for the best time of day, bass are known to be most active during low-light conditions. Early mornings and late evenings are particularly most active, as bass are more likely to venture out of their cover to feed. The cooler temperatures and reduced sunlight make these times ideal for enticing strikes.

What is the secret to bass fishing in Florida?

Flexibility and adaptability. Florida’s bass have a spontaneous presence, so be ready to switch up your game plan. Whether it’s the classic plastic worm or a flashy topwater lure, experimentation is key. Keep an eye on the weather, too—those overcast days might just be your ticket to bass paradise! Florida offers an abundance of excellent spots for bass fishing, catering to both novice and experienced anglers.

Lake Dexter: Lake Dexter in Florida is a popular fishing destination known for its diverse freshwater fish species. Anglers can expect to catch largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish in the lake. The scenic surroundings and abundant wildlife add to the overall fishing experience at Lake Dexter.

An evening sunset caught on Lake Dexter
An lovely evening sunset on Lake Dexter. The ideal fishing destination!

Lake Woodruff: Lake Woodruff in Florida is a popular fishing destination known for its diverse aquatic ecosystem and serene surroundings. Anglers visit the lake to catch a variety of freshwater species, including bass, crappie, and catfish. The lake offers both boat and shore fishing opportunities, providing anglers with different experiences to enjoy their favorite pastime. 

These spots showcase Florida’s diverse bass fishing environments, ensuring anglers can find the perfect setting for their preferred style of bass fishing.

Visit Castaways on the River to Explore further bass fishing opportunities!

Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Castaways on the River will ensure you locate the best fishing destinations along the St. Johns River. Rent one of our 20-foot pontoon boats and set sail! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our boat rentals page to get started. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off your prize in the heart of bass fishing paradise. 

The 7 Best Live Freshwater Fishing Bait

Live bait will typically grab the attention of more fish than artificial bait. If you’re seeking to up your fishing game on the beautiful St. Johns River in North Central Florida, bring some of the best live fishing bait available to take home more than your fair share of fish.

best fishing bait st johns river
The tried and true worm is always great bait for freshwater fishers.


It’s the circle of life. Big fish eat little fish. Minnows are essentially baby fish and are a popular freshwater fishing bait. Use large shiners to go along with your minnow bait when searching for bass.

Hook the minnow upside down using the same water they were captured in. Don’t puncture the minnow’s spinal cord so it can continue to move on its own while it is on your hook.

Clams and Mussels

Freshwater clams and mussels native to the St. Johns River make for great live bait. To keep them fresh, gather them from shallow water right before your fishing trip.

When you are ready to use them, crack the shell open and cut out the clam or mussel and allow the bait to harden in the sun before you put it on your hook. Try tying mussels on a hook with thread without pulling the thread too tight.

best fishing bait st johns river
Live freshwater bait tips can  help you target types of fish in the St. Johns River.


Crayfish are great for attracting smallmouth bass or panfish. Hook them through the tail to catch bass and use the pan mean from the crayfish’s pinchers to catch pan fish.


Beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars and crickets can be used as live fishing bait to catch panfish and trout. You can buy insects at a bait shop or try to catch them on your own. Have fun with the kids and send them searching for insects for your hooks.


The tried and true worm is always great bait for freshwater fishers. You can find them in the dirt of your garden or in local bait and tackle shops. Here are some worm tricks to help:

  • To attract trout, use smaller manure worms.
  • To prevent smaller fish from nibbling the worm without biting your hook, put just a piece of the worm on your hook. Thread the worm on the hook until it’s completely covered to avoid it from being stolen.
shrimp on a hook
Freshwater shrimp are great bait that work best in water below 70 degrees.


Freshwater shrimp are great bait that work best in water below 70 degrees. Looking to catch catfish? They enjoy snacking on a piece of frozen shrimp. Take off the shell and the tail before you place a shrimp on your hook.

Dough Balls

Okay, so are last recommendation isn’t exactly fresh bait. But if you’re looking to catch crappie in the St. Johns River, dough balls are your game. Dough balls are a homemade or commercially made bait treat that consists of flour, cornmeal and sugar mixed with a little bit of water. Here is a dough ball recipe the crappie will love.

Book Your Next Fishing Visit

You have the live freshwater bait tips you need to catch the most fish and target the types of fish you are looking for. Book a stay at Castaways on the River to do some fishing using your new bait tips. The marina can accommodate all of your boat rental needs. We also offer comfortable cottages and motel rooms so you can stay awhile along the St. Johns River. Call Castaways on the River today at (352) 759-3442 to book your boat rental winter fishing trip today.