There are plenty of decisions to make when it comes to live bait so we’ll try to make your choice easier by giving you all of the basic information on minnows, night crawlers (worms), and leeches.
Pros – Most effective live bait, can entice bite on a slow day, keeps boat clean
Cons – Most expensive and most difficult to keep alive
Local cost – Regular or medium size $4.75 – $5.00 per dozen including tax. Large minnows run about $6.75 – $7.00 per dozen including tax.
Storage – Minnow bucket with aerator. We have a couple minnow buckets at camp you can sink off the dock to get to colder water, but no aerators.
Extra info – Our experience is you don’t catch quite as many fish with large minnows compared to mediums, but the average catch size increases. We haven’t used frozen or salted minnows enough to vouch for them, but some guests have reported success using them. Just a reminder, you cannot bring live minnows across the border.
Pros – Most popular live bait, consistent fish catcher, easy to keep alive, can bring from U.S. in bedding, cheapest live bait per unit
Cons – Easier for fish to pull off hook, patient hook sets required, dealing with worm bedding in boat
Local Cost – A flat (500 crawlers) runs about $79 – $85 including tax.
Storage – A small cooler or container will hold a flat of crawlers. You can bring them across the border as long as they are in bedding and not dirt or soil. We have smaller containers at camp for storage in the boat.
Extra info – A flat will usually last all week for a group of eight fishermen. If it’s easier to figure, use about a dozen per angler per day as a starting point. Usually you can catch more than one fish on a crawler and cut long crawlers in half to make the bait last.
Pros – Most durable bait, clean to use in boat, hang tough on hook allowing you to sometimes catch several fish on a single leech.
Cons – More expensive per unit than crawlers, not for squeamish anglers due to leeches latching onto you while trying to put them on the hook.
Local cost – $51 – $57 per pound (16 dozen on average in a pound)
Storage – Leech tote or cooler. Keep water cold and change water mid-week.
Extra info – We figure about a dozen leeches per angler per day. Also, they don’t sort leeches by size here so if you buy a pound you get a mixed bag with most of them being on the smaller side. Leeches cannot be transported across the border.
Not every angler brings live bait and it’s certainly not required to catch fish here. It is effective though and that’s why the majority of fishermen purchase one of the three kinds. Remember, we don’t sell any live bait at camp so you will want to purchase it before we leave the landing. Small quantities are usually available in town. For at least a pound of leeches or flat of crawlers, we recommend calling ahead to reserve bait at Red Lake Marine (807) 727-2747. We have two refrigerators just for bait storage and some smaller containers for storing leeches and crawlers in your boat. If you misjudge your quantity or encounter some excellent fishing, we are happy to pick up more live bait for you during our Tuesday town trip. Let us know your favorite live bait!