When it comes to fishing, you know there are many choices for bait. Many anglers swear by live bait, including your standard worms, leeches, minnows, frogs, and more. Knowing many fish are carnivorous or omnivorous, and it’s proven they enjoy meat, have you ever found yourself wondering if you could fish with chicken as bait?
You can fish with chicken as bait with a bit of advanced planning and preparation. What you can catch are several kinds of fish that will go after chicken, with the most common being catfish. You may also hook a trout, carp, bass, bluegill, or others.
While it may not be your most popular or a standard choice for bait, whether in a pinch or planned, a little chicken nugget on your line will undoubtedly attract some fish. Read on to understand the ins and outs of using chicken as bait and what you can catch.
What Do Fish Like to Eat?
Fish may be carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous creatures. While many like plant matter and seaweed, most can also certainly go for some flesh. Yes, we see them often eating worms and aquatic animals found naturally in their habitat, but they can also enjoy some chicken like us.
Like any animal, fish require a balanced diet with a healthy combination of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. They are usually on their own to work hard to find their own meals in their particular body of water. When a delectable chunk of chicken floats across their path, or when the scent drifts over to them, it may be just what they need in their diet that day.
Is Chicken Good for Fishing?
Of the multitude of options that exist for fishing bait, they each come with pros and cons. Common earthworms, for example, are known as the world’s most universal bait. They appeal to a multitude of fish.
Minnows, on the other hand, are known for their versatility. Smaller sized minnows in the range of a few inches can bring in nice panfish, and larger minnows closer to a foot in length can catch a muskie.
And chicken? Chicken has its benefits also. Most people choose to fish with either chicken livers or chicken breast.
One of the obvious benefits of using either type of chicken product as bait is that they’re easily available in any grocery store for a great price. There’s no need to locate a bait shop or even a gas station that carries bait. A supermarket is all you need. For many people, they may even have this bait in their refrigerator or freezer already.
Chicken breast boasts excellent flesh density and a soft texture. The experts at How to Fish Australia say it’s palatable to all kinds of fish and yet is neutral-tasting enough to represent many types of food in the water.
Chicken livers and sometimes gizzards and parts are potent smelling and tasting, putting off an intensely meaty aura. Many say catfish will come from far and wide in search of the chicken liver they smell, and when they find it, they absolutely cannot resist a chicken liver. It’s one popular option of “stink bait.” You may also chum the water with chicken livers or other parts.
Besides some fishermen and women fishing with pure chicken breast or liver as bait, some commercial bait products on the market have chicken as the main ingredient, telling us it’s tasty to fish. Additionally, some hobbyists who keep fish as pets in their home feed them chicken as part of their regular domesticated diet, meaning it’s also good for them.
It’s no secret fish will eat and even seek out chicken. Just make sure that you know what you’re looking to catch and prepare your chicken bait accordingly.
What Can Chicken Catch?
Anglers report catching a variety of different types of fish using chicken. For the most part, chicken is a neutral flavor, representing any number of the favorite food that fish naturally encounter in their environment. Far and away, the most common catch using chicken bait is catfish.
In freshwater, you can catch the following types of fish:
- Hybrid or freshwater striped bass
- Others who are hungry
In saltwater and for deep-sea fishing, there are abundant possible takers as well. Chicken flesh, liver, or gizzards work well to chum the water, and you may reel in any number of fish like weakfish, bluefish, pufferfish, sea robins, spadefish, or flounder. What’s more, the Ultimate Fishing Site says you can use a fresh chunk of chicken as bait for fishing for crabs. So, chicken can catch your bait to catch even bigger fish.
Evaluate Available Bait Options
Before you commit to using chicken as bait, it’s important to note that some experienced anglers will tell you there are other bait options out there that should be your first choice. They might tell you chicken can be a back-up or something to use if the fish are just not biting what you’re using.
Others swear by chicken as bait. Chicken breast is typically more popular than livers, but you just might have success with either, depending on what you’re going after.
Before you select the bait for your upcoming fishing trip, pay careful attention to what you’re fishing for, what your other fishing equipment is, and what your ideal bait is. You may decide on a more traditional live bait or some tried-and-true lures.
Or maybe you’re looking to catch a lunker catfish, and this is definitely the right time to try chicken as bait.
Prepare Your Chicken As Bait
Once you’ve decided to use chicken as bait, you’ll need to plan ahead and do some prep work.
In just a few steps, you’ll have your chicken bait ready to roll and hopefully bring in that trophy fish.
Purchase a Good Cut of Chicken
If you’re going to use chicken for bait, you need to know what cut to use. Fresh and of decent quality are highly recommended.
- Chicken breast or thigh: Many fishermen suggest you spring for the best cut of chicken breast or thigh. For a diverse crowd of potential catches, experts suggest that these cuts offer consistent flesh that’s easy to dice up and thread onto your hook. Overall, these cuts are fairly easy to work with. Check your local grocery store for a sale. You can buy this bait fairly inexpensively.
- Chicken livers: Catfish and carp cannot resist the pungent smell of chicken liver, and some report the same for bass. The folks at Catfish Edge swear by using fresh chicken livers, something that’s never been frozen or has been frozen a maximum of one time. The theory is that fresh livers hold their shape and form better, and therefore, stay on the hook more reliably.
For fun, we have to share that there are reports on some “Top 10 Weird Fishing Bait” lists that divulge even fried chicken nuggets or tenders will catch fish. In fact, in April of 2020, a Florida man reportedly caught a 33-inch snook off the Tampa coast using only a piece of Publix fried chicken. Despite these reports, we still suggest using fresh, raw meat as your best bet.
Prepare Chicken Bait in the Right Size
Once you have purchased your chicken, you’ll need to dice it up. Your pieces should fit easily on a hook, which should fit into the fish’s mouth. Think about the size of the fish you’re after, the size of your hook, and for comparison, the standard size of other bait you use. Don’t forget that even some large fish have relatively small mouths.
Using an extremely sharp knife like this Imarku 6″ Boning Knife for under $30.00 from Amazon will make your life easier as you prepare your chicken in an appropriately sized cut.
Here’s where it can get interesting. You can play chef for those hungry fish. Adding a scent is common for any type of bait, and similarly, you can also scent or season your chicken bait.
While it’s true that some strong odors drive fish away, there are many proven attractants that you can easily add as a scent to your chicken bait. Many anglers opt for garlic, anise, fish sauce, or various oils to enhance the chicken bait and make it more irresistible to fish.
Others suggest that heating up the chicken ever so slightly will release the natural oils and build a scent trail in the water.
Have you heard that liquor can be some anglers’ top-secret bait marinade? It’s true. Some secret chicken bait recipes include anise liquor, grape wine, beer, brandy, or others.
Play around with various flavors or combinations to see what works best.
Here’s a quick video that shows just how to prepare your chicken and bait a hook with it:
Baiting Your Hook
Some note that fishing with chicken can be tricky due to the slippery nature of raw chicken or livers. Not many things are as frustrating as bait that slips right off with one nibble or seeing it slip off into the distance with one strong cast.
Tips for Baiting Your Hook With Chicken Breast
When sliding the cube or strip of chicken onto your hook, you should add a tie on the top to give that chicken a bit more security.
Many fishermen and women say using a small piece of thread or specialty elastic bait thread such as Atlas Miracle Thread to tie the chicken on is just the ticket. About 8″ (20cm) in length will give you what you need.
Thread tends to cling naturally to the chicken, and the right length allows you to wrap the thread around the liver a few times. Then you’ll bring the thread over the inside belly of your fishing hook. This way, the thread is holding your chicken in place on the hook.
Tips for Baiting Your Hook With Chicken Livers
Chicken livers can be particularly tricky to get securely onto a hook and stay there. You will likely be successful tying it on.
As other options, here are a few pro tips from experienced chicken liver anglers for your consideration:
- Handle minimally: One of the most important tips to improve your success using the chicken liver as bait is handling it as little as possible. With each handling, the membranes break down, making the chicken liver mushier.
- Colder is better: Work with very cold livers for maximum firmness. As they warm up, they become mushy.
- Try curing: If you just cannot get chicken livers to stay on the hook and prefer no external apparatuses to secure them, Rambling Angler suggests you may try curing yours with salt and borax to firm it up enough to bait easily and stay on. Alternatively, there are premade products on the market that’ll do the same job, such as ProCure, available on Amazon. As an added bonus, color and scent additives drive fish crazy.
- Specialty hooks: Try a specialty kind of hook with a slide locking system, such as these North Bay hooks on Amazon.com. This hook and others like it securely hug that chicken liver so it stays put cast after cast.
- Egg loop knot: Tying this type of retractable loop onto your hook using your existing fishing line can do the same task that some specialty hooks do. It creates a loose loop of fishing line that can wrap around the chicken liver and pulls tight with a simple tug and slide to keep it all tucked in. Watch a live animation of how to tie an egg loop knot on Animated Knots’ website here.
- Pantyhose: Using the “legging” portion of women’ pantyhose, about a 5″ (13cm) section will work best. Cut it down the side to make a rectangle, dump your chicken liver inside, and pull the corners up to make a small pouch. Your hook can go through those corners, and with remaining edges, wrap and hook, wrap and hook, wrap and hook again. Trim any excess pantyhose.
- Surgical surgitube gauze: Western Medical ⅞” Surgitube Tubular Gauze is cheap from online vendors like Amazon or any drugstore. Tie the end in a knot and cut a tube about five to six inches long. Flip it inside out to bring the knot onto the inside. This makes a small tube to act as a pouch to hold the chicken liver, even if they’re tiny little pieces. This works well twisted tightly on a stinger hook rig.
- Stinger hook rig: Attach two hooks together into a stinger hook. To do this, tie 24″ (61cm) of leader onto the bottom hook using a knotless knot. Position your second hook slightly on top of the first, and tie it on with another knotless knot. This way, the top hook and bottom act in tandem to disperse the pressure across both hooks and help the bait hold up to little nibbles and bites that may otherwise tug it off a single hook.
Luke from Catfish and Carps shows you six of these ways to get the livers to stay on your hook in this YouTube demonstration video:
Health Safety With Raw Chicken Meat
It’s important to consider the health safety risks of handling raw chicken meat. Just as you would if you were preparing raw meat in your kitchen to eat, you will need to be careful about where you place it and limit contact after handling it. The risk of Salmonella is always real with chicken meat, and you can become violently ill if you contract the disease.
The CDC suggests washing your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw chicken. It’s also a good idea to designate a separate cutting board for slicing up your raw meat.
When you’re done preparing your chicken for bait, you should be sure you wash all utensils, dishes, cutting boards, and countertops with hot soapy water to kill any pesky germs or bacteria that try to lurk behind.
What If You Don’t Get Any Bites With Chicken As Bait?
As with many things in life, trial and error is a great teacher. If you are unsuccessful with chicken as bait, next time, try switching up one factor. You might try going without seasoning or using something different. Try combining scents or simplifying.
You can also mix up the size of your cuts or the way you bait your hook. Maybe bigger is better for where you’re fishing. Maybe it wasn’t staying on your hook, so you need to switch up your hook size.
If something isn’t working, try another part of the lake or revert to more tried and true bait options or lures.
Using chicken as bait is something all fisherpeople should try. With the right amount of time and thought put into deciding, planning, and preparing chicken as fishing bait, your chances of success are high.
You can catch fish using chicken as bait, and what you catch can vary greatly. You might reel in a huge catfish, but it might just be the time a trout or giant freshwater bass bites on your line. Who knows, you might just land the biggest catch of your career!