Choosing the Best Bait for Spring Fishing in Florida

By Debbie Hanson

Apr 10, 2023

List of best bait for spring fishing in Florida when fishing for common freshwater species, saltwater fish species.

Whether you live in the “Sunshine State” or have plans to visit on vacation, you might be wondering about the best bait for spring fishing in Florida. When targeting freshwater species like bass and bluegill or saltwater fish species like snook and redfish, check out these suggestions for the best baits to use for spring success in Florida.

The fishing in Florida’s freshwater lakes and ponds starts to pick up once stable warm weather arrives in March or April. Whether you prefer casting out live baits or artificial lures, the best baits for spring bass fishing or bluegill fishing are easy to find and rig up for a day on the water.

Best Baits for Spring Bass Fishing

Soft plastic stickbaits or soft plastic lizards are two of the best spring baits for bass fishing. Both types of baits can be rigged weedless to fish around isolated cover like lily pads, reeds, and hydrilla (types of areas where bass like to spawn). If you would rather fish with natural bait, buy wild-caught live shiners from a local bait shop.

Best Baits for Spring Bluegill Fishing

What’s the best bait for early spring fishing when you’re targeting bluegill in Florida’s lakes and ponds? Get live crickets or red wiggler worms and rig them on size 6 to 8 long shank live bait hooks. Bluegill will also take artificial lures like small poppers or spinnerbaits.

Saltwater Baits to Use This Spring

The best baits for spring fishing in Florida’s inshore waters are live baits like scaled sardines, threadfin herring, and finger mullet become more plentiful in Florida’s inshore waters during the spring months. Your best opportunities for successfully catching your target species will come when you use a bait that matches the forage in the area where you are fishing. Survey the water in the bay, estuary, or off the beach where you plan to fish. Note the size and type of bait that are most prevalent.

Best Baits for Spring Snook Fishing

Two of the best baits for spring fishing when targeting snook off Florida’s beaches are scaled sardines (sometimes referred to as pilchards or whitebait) and threadfin herring. Both types of baits can be freelined (with no weight or popping cork) in the current. If you prefer fishing with artificial baits or lures, white paddletail swimbaits in the 3 to 4-inch range also work well.

Best Baits for Spring Redfish Fishing

When warming spring waters bring active schools of baitfish back into Florida’s saltwater estuary systems, a ¼ ounce gold spoon is one of the best artificial lures you can use around turtle grass or oyster bars. If you’d rather go the live bait route when targeting redfish, scaled sardines or a finger mullet rigged underneath a weighted popping cork are among the best fishing baits for spring.
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.