Best Baits for Shrimp and Prawn Fishing: Here’s what I use

Shrimp and prawn fishing is a rather well sought-after past time for recreational fishermen that pays off with exceptional catches and excellent table fare. Shrimp food and attractants are the primary way of filling your traps with this delicious bounty and I’ll throw in a few extra pointers along the way to help you fill your limit.

Wild ocean dwelling shrimp and prawns are scavengers that eat dead fish, clams, crabs, and other decaying organic matter. They are most commonly fished with bait that consists of flesh of other sea creatures that have high oil content in their meat.

Shrimp and prawn bait is the corner stone of filling limits. You can drop a pot on the best ground and habitat for shrimp but it will always come up empty or with low yields if your bait is poor. Location and gear setups will be covered further down in the article to aid in finding your own spots and quality of life gear that I wouldn’t go without.

The Attractant

Bait is what separates one pot from the next and not only increase your yield but can fluctuate the cost of fishing pots over time. Though some of the expensive options on the market today will give you good yields the cost will set you back considerably over time.

Breaking down the most cost effective and quality bait options is key in this process to give you the best catch without breaking the bank.


Shrimp and prawn pellets are a common bait source that is fast and effective. Pellets usually consist of ground up organic matter that has a high oil content to better produce scent.

Manufactured pellets are praised for being clean and easy to work with in comparison to other bait options. Pellets however are the most expensive option when looking to fish a large number of pots over time.

In my setup a 2.4 kg container of pellets will last 2 sets of 4 pots. So individually 8 pots dropped once will consume a 2.4 kg container of pellets. This will costs $28.99 every day of fishing in my setup just in pellets. Keep in mind the size of bait jars will change the cost of bait.


Oils are extremely effective in producing a scent plume that will attract shrimp and prawns to your pots. Oils however on their own will not work due to the fact that they will wash away extremely fast.

I will always add fresh oils to my sets for every drop.

Oils will have to be mixed with another bait that absorb the oils and leaches out over time. This is where mixing a dry bait with oils solves the problem of the oils washing away near immediately. Allowing the dry bait to absorb the oils before dropping your sets will give you the best results.

Oils are a modest price due to the fact that they last a long time. The Pro Cure Crab & Shrimp Attractant can be bought in a 1/2 gallon jug for just under $30.00 and last for 60+ sets.

Remember when you pull your sets to look at the bait containers just before removing them from the water. You should be able to see a small sheen from residual oils leaving the bait jars.

Cat Food

Now for the best kept secret for the most economical bait solution. Cat food works exceptionally well as a shrimp and prawn bait though some small requirements have to be kept in mind in order to get the best results.

Wet cat food is a perfect bait that works extremely well! What you have to make sure of is that the cat food has some kind of fish in it. Tuna, Salmon, and ocean whitefish are the 3 most commonly found wet cat foods that I personally use with good success.

Dry or kibble cat food will work extremely well also! Once again make sure that the food has a fish base mixed into it. The dry cat food works perfectly as well for mixing your prawn oils and leaching out scent over time.

Cheap wet cat food can be bought for $.99 cents per can! These are also the large cans that fit perfectly into a 1/2 litre bait jar. Dry cat food can be bought as cheap as $20 for a large bag and will last a long time.

Since I run 2 bait jars per pot (1/2 litre in size) one of the jars takes a complete can of wet food and the other a mixture of dry food and oils. This is by far the most economical way to fish for shrimp and prawns!

Fish Scraps

I do all of my shrimp and prawn fishing in the north west corner of British Columbia and while we are fishing for prawns and shrimp we are also catching salmon and other ground fish. This is the little extra bait that I put into the traps when we have it.

With fish guts and heads on hand and fresh everyday this is the little extra bait that when we have it can allow a set to fish a little longer. The only negative to using fish scraps is the fact that it doesn’t take long before the guts turn and begin to stink something awful!

When fishing fish scraps I use a third container to help contain the bait and hold it in the middle of the pot. This is an extra precaution just to make sure that any shrimp have to enter the pot in order to get a meal.

My Personal Setup

Fishing in the north west corner of British Columbia I personally target King Shrimp (Humpback) and Spot Prawns with the Spot Prawns being a personal favourite.

I fish 2 sets with 2 pots on each set separated by about 20 feet of line. Each pot has a minimum of two 1/2 litre bait jars inside with a third being added if I am baiting with fish scraps. These sets are fished at a dept of 240 – 330 feet of water.

For bait I personally use wet and dry cat food with prawn oils added to the dry food. 1 bait jar will hold the wet food while the second will hold the dry food mixed with the oils. The third jar will hold fish scraps and is only used when we want to fish a set for a longer period of time.

I check the sets twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) and rebait every time the sets are pulled.

I look for areas that have a depression or bench that is in general protected from the main current of the tides.

With out a doubt using a pot puller when pulling sets twice a day is irreplaceable! It not only saves time but also your back. I use the scotty pot puller that mounts directly to our down rigger pedestals.