Is Live Bait Fishing Cruel?

Using live bait is a technique that fishing enthusiasts use to catch fish. Live bait fishing is a popular method of fishing because you can pick the species of bait that are most favored by the kind of fish you are planning to catch. For example, one of the best ways to catch a wild salmon is to use roe (eggs). It is salmon’s favorite food to eat and gives the fisherman a higher chance of fooling salmon into taking the bait.

Is live bait fishing cruel?

Fishing with live bait may or may not be considered cruel depending on one’s intent and the availability of acceptable substitutes. Using live bait could be considered cruel especially if you are only catch and release fishing for sport. However, it is generally considered not cruel if you are keeping the fish to eat.

Live bait fishing is a reliable way of catching specific kinds of fish. There are alternatives to live bait fishing. But the alternatives to living bait fishing are not appealing to some specific types of fish. That doesn’t mean they are not popular. Many of the local fishing stores carry artificial baits that perform very well at catching the local fish. 

So, why isn’t everyone using the alternatives? Well, the answer to that is not due to the availability of the types of baits available to a fisherman. The reason is no one sees the point in it. If anything, the salmon that is biting on roe is cruel. The fisherman is really like a food delivery type of a person; bringing a favorite dish to the party. What is so cruel about that?

But as is with every other subject on this planet, the issue does not end there. Some unusual live baits have caused outrages by animal rights activists across the world. For example, many activists condone using frogs as live bait for fishing.

Do Live Baits Feel Pain?

Beings in general feel pain. Some scientists have been able to detect nerve signals on every type of animal once they endured physical harm. The same applies to even some plants. Live fish that are impaled on hooks as baits aren’t an exception to this rule. They will also suffer pain and distress from tissue damage. They are also likely to suffer fear from being immobilized and unable to escape the predator.

At the same time, the same applies to the fish that is about to be hooked, caught, and cooked for dinner. 

What we can conclude from our findings so far, is that most of the developed nations have easy access to artificial baits. And most of the developed countries use very different methods to fish commercially. Therefore, live bait fishing should be minimal. But it is not. 

The reason is that it is very hard to understand why using live bait is so cruel. Is it crueler than fishing? That fish is also a live animal. And given the fact that the fish like the baits and that is usually the reason why they bite on the bait, is it really that cruel to offer a decent meal before we take fish and make it a decent meal for ourselves?

Our reliance on fishing is not something that could be replaced. And using live baits is like using nature to our advantage. That minnow or worm could have been eaten alive by those fish even without our meddling.

What Choices Do Fishing Enthusiasts Have for Bait?

Considering that these fishing techniques are being used to have people fed across the world, the cruelty of the action could vary. The main options modernly practiced are as follows:

  • Live baits
  • Artificial baits 
  • Breadcrumbs or similar products.

Live Baits

Live baits are used to catch different types of fish. One of the fish’s all-time favorite is worms. Worms are also widely used as baits to catch fish. Leeches, insects, or even cut baits, which are cuts of fishes are used to catch fish. However, the cruelty of live bait fishing using worms, or leeches isn’t as societally controversial. Below we have listed some of the live baits that are considered as problematic by some:

  • Minnows, which is not a type of fish but a category of small-bodied fish, are widely used to catch Bass. There are more than 250 different species that are considered as minnows. Minnows are some of the best baits to catch bigger fish that feed off smaller ones.
  • Frogs are the most controversial live baits used for fishing. Smaller frogs are attached to the hook and thrown in the water. Frogs also do make good baits, but their use is not necessary where an alternative is readily available. 

Artificial Baits

Artificial baits are available at any local fishing store. However, local fishing stores aren’t available at every fishing location. Third world countries that we mentioned are one of these fishing spots that lack the artificial baits to use. These people have no choice but to use other options. 

As to the effectiveness of the artificial baits produced, the ratings of some of these products are actually really great. Feel free to do due diligence on Amazon and check out some of the reviews. Some of these products are easy to store, long-lasting, and very effective for certain types of fish. 

A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait that is used by many to attract fish. The shape and its design have been created to be attractive to fish and it is one of the most reliable ways of fishing without using live bait.


Breadcrumbs are also used to catch fish. It is not the most reliable way to catch fish. But it has proven to be effective in the past. And it is better than throwing an empty hook into an ocean and praying a fish would bite. Breadcrumbs and cereals are used to catch fish, just make sure you got more time to spend as it can take longer to entice a bite.

Do Commercial Fishing Companies Use Live Bait Fishing Techniques?

Most of the fish caught in the world are caught by professional fishermen off fishing boats. These commercial vessels do not use ordinary methods to catch fish. They are not in it for recreational purposes. Their objective is to catch a massive number of fish in the shortest amount of time. To achieve such an objective, commercial fishermen use the following methods:

  • Surrounding nets: Nets are widely used to catch fish commercially. Two of the many ways nets are used are seine nets and trawls.  
  • Seine nets: Seine nets are like volleyball nets. Except they are made specifically to catch fish. Seine nets are used in lakes, artificial lakes, or near the beach. It is not the most preferred method of fishing; however, it is widely used to catch certain types of fish.
  • Trawls: Trawls are a type of net that is attached to the back of a vessel and it sweeps the ocean with the specific type of the fish it is meant to catch. Each species has a different type of net. Shrimps and lobsters are more likely to be commercially caught using this method.
  • Dredges: Dredges are like bulldozers for the sea. They are attached to commercial vessels and can sweep large portions of the ocean.

Is Live-Bait Fishing Cruel?

 Yes and no. Live bait fishing is a method of survival. A necessary technique that millions in this world rely on to feed their stomachs. If the purpose of fishing is to feed people and resolve hunger issues, then the ends justify the means. We do far crueler acts to satisfy that one need – hunger. However, if it is fishing for sport, or catch and release to have fun, then it is a cruel act. There is no debating that.

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