Where to buy bait...bait shop versus the market...

Ken Jones

Staff member
Date: July 18, 2007
To: PFIC Message Board
From: Name: mars33
Subject: Bait shop vs. market

I was wondering if (frozen bait) at bait shops makes a difference. At the Sunset Super (Asian supermarket) in San Francisco you can get frozen shrimps (pretty big ones) while they have squid and anchovies on ice. Basically, for a buck or 2 you'll have enough bait to last a trip. Is there a reason to get anchovies and shrimp from bait shops instead? Thanks

Posted by sfdragon

Nope... whichever is cheaper is ok. I tend to find the market as having more fresh and a greater variety of possible bait. But, the bait shop will have ghost/grass/mud shrimps as well as a variety of worms... not to mention all your necessary fishing tackle supplies. Hope this helps?

Posted by Ken Jones

What I do. If I am buying frozen bait that is available at markets, market shrimp and squid being the main examples, I will buy them there. Both the price and quality are usually better. I do buy frozen anchovies, sardines, etc. at the bait shops and of course most live bait.
As for the shrimp, buy it in the smaller size (around 60-90 to the pound), shell on. You can usually get it in one pound packages although 5-pound boxes can be a little less expensive. I then repackage the shrimp into 4-ounce packages using Ziplock bags. On most pier trips 4 ounces is plenty.
Basically the same for squid. Although I typically recommend making friends with the guys at the local bait shops—and becoming a good customer ($$)—too many overcharge on these baits and/or do not do a good job of rotating their bait in the freezers which of course hurts the quality.
Lastly, if you do much fishing you should (depending on location) be able to get some fresh anchovies, sardines, herring or mackerel yourself and they're almost always better than frozen bait.

Posted by piemel

What Ken said, especially the part about building a good relationship with your local bait shop They take care of me and I take care of them type of thing

Posted by clarionwahoo

Stay away from prawns (look as similar). They are some times sold as shrimp; they are fresh water and do not work as well

Posted by Ken Jones

Not all prawns are from freshwater. "Prawns" is used as a generic name for large shrimp, both freshwater and saltwater varieties.

Posted by cyperyip

Also, check out their little octopus, great bait for RF. cy

Posted by: Ken Jones

If you want some live octopus for bait go to Santa Cruz. I was there yesterday and they're covering the bottom. I'm not sure which were more plentiful, the palm-sized octopi grabbing the baits, the small speckled sanddabs, or the bullheads (staghorn sculpin). Did manage one small lingcod but mostly it was a day to collect some fresh bait as the balls of anchovies around the pier are thick. Anyone seeking out bullheads to save for the stripers, octopus to save for rockfish/sharks/etc., or anchovies to save for many things, can get enough bait in half a day to last the rest of the year. They're that thick. Unfortunately they don't leave much time for the other fish to find your bait.
Same story at Capitola although I did manage fifteen decent-sized walleys together with the other baitfish (anchovies and bullheads—no octopi) in a couple of hours. The front of the pier was lined with anglers seeking out stripers (using live anchovies for bait that is sold at the bait shop). Only saw one striper but it was a nice, keeper-size fish probably around 25 inches or so. Large mackerel were there EARLY in the morning.

Posted by baymaster

Bait shop squid makes your hands smell like crap.

Posted by baymaster

I left a bag of squid in my trunk for 2 days in 90-degree heat. The smell took 2 months of leaving the windows down before it went away.

Posted by Ken Jones

Old squid, mussels and tube worms all have a malodorous stench that can be hard to remove from your hands, your bait cooler, or the trunk of your car where it has been sitting, unnoticed for several days. Unnoticed until the sweet perfume of Eau de Cephalopod overwhelms the senses. Good thing you like to fish instead of dating the opposite sex 'cause no babe's going to be going for a date in that car!

Posted by Ken Jones

Squid seems to be one of the worst. However, since I am not a scientist, I will not try to explain the deficiency of one species' carcass over another. I will leave the explanation to someone with a little better understanding of the biological and/or chemical reactions taking place with the twin determinants of stinky fish—putrefaction and autolysis.

Posted by SturgeonSlayer23

Any coroners on the board? I don't know about anybody else, but I kinda like the smell of shrimp in heat. Other bait nah, but shrimps not bad in my opinion. -SS23.
One never needs their humor as much as when they argue with a fool.

Posted by Ken Jones

Or baitontologists?

Posted by Raidersfan1

You came late yesterday otherwise I highly doubt you'd have loved the smell of the prawns I had in my van that had been sitting in the sun for 2 days. They were raw when I bought them, but being baked in an open baggie in the back turned them pink.
Michael C.
UPSAC Area Coordinator - San Mateo County

Posted by illcatchanything

Sun Baked Shrimp? Maybe fatzmalone could chime in with some sort of dish (recipe).

Posted by piemel

My girlfriend calls me squidboy and my car is affectionately called the squid mobile .... she smokes a cigarette when driving in my car even though she doesn’t smoke.

Posted by Ken Jones

So you've turned her into a smoker? Man, that's...tough love.

Posted by Northern Boy

I raised this before but it is worth mentioning again. I always do better with squid from grocery stores vs. that sold for bait (although some brands, like Seawave, are sold for both). To me, squid that is sold for bait looks like squid that has been sold for human consumption and then left in an ice-free cooler for a week (and I know exactly what that looks like!).
Folks: Putting some charcoal pieces (best is activated carbon) into old socks/stockings in the trunk of your cars - usually used for fishing trips - will help to control bad odors ... Hope this will help a bit !

Ken Jones

Staff member
Interesting idea, thanks. I always carry bait in my cooler so do not have a problem. But, I can't seem to convince others to do the same.