How to Make Homemade Fish Bait from Leftover Food Scraps

How to Make Homemade Fish Bait from Leftover Food Scraps

Fishing is one of my favorite hobbies. As an avid angler, I’m always looking for ways to save money on bait. Store-bought bait can get expensive, especially when going through several containers per fishing trip. I discovered that many common kitchen leftovers make excellent homemade fish bait. Not only are food scrap baits budget-friendly, but in many cases, they can out-fish traditional baits.

Why Make Your Own Fish Bait?

Creating your own fish attractants from leftover food has some great advantages:

  • Saves money – Making bait from scraps is practically free compared to buying bait.
  • Uses up food waste – Put those leftovers to good use instead of throwing them away.
  • Customizable – Cater baits to target specific fish species.
  • Long shelf life – Most homemade baits last for months in the fridge or freezer.
  • Highly effective – Food-based baits trigger excellent fish-catching action.

With a little creativity, I can turn kitchen leftovers and pantry items into a tackle box full of money-saving bait.

Best Food Scraps for Homemade Fish Bait

Nearly any food waste can be recycled into fish bait. Here are some of my favorite scrap baits:


Bread is one of the simplest and most effective homemade baits. The starches cloud the water and attract fish from long distances.

White bread – Best for catfish, carp, tilapia. Moldy bread works even better.
Whole wheat bread – Ideal for trout. More nutritious than white.
Bread crumbs – Excellent addition to make dough baits.


Like bread, pasta contains starches that attract hungry fish. Both cooked and uncooked pasta work well.

Noodles – Try broken spaghetti, fettuccine, or egg noodles.
Macaroni elbows – Withstand bait hooks nicely.
Rice – Cooked white or brown rice is irresistible to carp.

Fruits and Vegetables

Don’t let overripe produce go to waste. Their sweet, strong smells grab the attention of game fish.

Corn – A favorite for catfish. Use canned, boiled, or raw kernels.
Apples – Chop up apples or ball up pulp from juicing.
Bananas – Mash ripe bananas into a paste bait.
Potatoes – Cook, mash, and mix potatoes into dough balls.

Meats and Fish

Minced and chopped meat scraps produce smelly, oil-laden baits that catfish can’t refuse.

Hot dogs – Chop up leftover franks into chunks or puree.
Chicken – Dice and freeze unused chicken parts. Thaw before baiting.
Fish – Bits of fish fillets or canned tuna work for catfish.
Bacon – Mix crumbled bacon into other bait recipes.


Sour milk products like cheese and yogurt create excellent attractant scents.

Cheese – Grate hard cheeses or cube softer kinds.
Yogurt – Plain yogurt with active cultures.
Milk – Sour or curdled milk is fantastic catfish bait.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain fish-stimulating oils. Chop them up or use as additions.

Peanuts – Crush or puree roasted peanuts.
Walnuts – Smash up any extra walnuts into paste.
Bird seed – Mix bird seed with flour into a dough ball.

Making and Preserving Homemade Fish Bait

With a wide range of food scraps to choose from, you can get creative with different bait recipes. Here are some tips for making and storing homemade bait:

Bait Preparation

  • Chop, mash, puree, or blend foods into tiny pieces, particles, or paste.
  • Mix in attractant enhancers like anise, vanilla, or strawberry extracts.
  • For dough baits, add bread crumbs, flour, or cornmeal into a sticky dough.
  • For longevity, coat baits in borax, salt, or sugar.
  • Refrigerate most raw food baits for 1-2 days before use.

Bait Preservation

  • Store baits in sealed containers in fridge for 1-2 weeks.
  • For longer shelf life, freeze baits for 6-12 months.
  • Dry breads, pastas, or doughs into hardened bait chips.
  • Pickle baits in vinegar or salt brines. Refrigerate pickling juice too.
  • Dry baits completely into long-lasting powders or granules.

Bait Presentation

  • Place baits directly on treble hooks, or use bait threaders, bags, or tubes.
  • For castable baits, mold dough around treble hooks or jig heads.
  • Use fine mesh bags, pantyhose, or cheesecloth to contain loose baits.
  • Add bait spikes, wire, or treble hooks to bread baits for easy casting.

Top 5 Homemade Fish Bait Recipes

Here are a few of my favorite homemade bait recipes to try:

Catfish Dough Bait


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • Strawberry or anise extract


  1. Mix all ingredients into sticky dough ball.
  2. Refrigerate overnight for scents to blend.
  3. Mold quarter-sized balls of dough directly onto treble hooks.

Smelly Carp Dip


  • 1 can tuna fish
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in bowl.
  2. Transfer to bait bags or small jars.
  3. Refrigerate and chum in fishing spot before fishing.

Overripe Banana Bait


  • 2 brown spotted bananas
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • Cinnamon or anise extract


  1. Mash bananas into a puree in bowl.
  2. Mix in cornmeal and wheat germ.
  3. Form paste into balls around bait hooks.

Old Bread Carp Snack


  • Heel ends of loaf bread
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika


  1. Allow bread heels to dry for 2-3 days.
  2. Season with garlic, onion, and paprika.
  3. Thread chunks onto bait rigs.

Pizza Dough Catfish Bites


  • 1 ball fresh pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan


  1. Roll pizza dough into marble-sized pieces.
  2. Coat balls in olive oil and extracts.
  3. Coat with parmesan cheese.
  4. Thread balls onto catfish rigs.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless when making your own fish lures from kitchen scraps. Get creative with ingredients and flavors. Making homemade bait saves money while reducing food waste – all while catching you buckets of fish!