Powerbait is one of the most popular fishing baits, and for good reason. It catches lots of fish, especially stocked trout. Chances are you have used some yourself. It is still my choice of bait when fishing on opening day in the spring.
As more and more people join the sport of fishing and grab their own jars of Powerbait, new regulations are being created that limit when and where we can fish with it. In many streams and natural lakes, we are starting to see live bait restrictions that are intended to conserve and protect the natural environment and fisheries.
So I began to wonder, is Powerbait considered live bait? After searching the internet and studying definitions from several fish and wildlife regulations, I think I have found an answer.
No, Powerbait is not live bait by strict definition. Living organisms, like worms, insects and minnows are live bait. However, some fish and wildlife agencies may group both living and non-living bait into a broad category of “bait” which includes anything used to attract fish by scent or taste.
Always check your state’s fishing rules and definitions before heading out. There is not an answer that fits all locations and circumstances and it is up to you to be aware of the laws.
Now let’s take a deeper look at what Powerbait is and why it is difficult to always know when it is legal to fish with.
What is Powerbait made of
Powerbait is a moldable dough bait made of PVC plastic and an oil-based resin. The PVC starts out as a fine white powder that is heated and mixed with the resin until a dough-like consistency is achieved. Then scent, coloring and sometimes glitter flecks are all added to the bait to make it appetizing to fish. The color and flavor choices are nearly limitless.
There is really nothing natural about this bait. It contains all artificial man-made ingredients and looks nothing like what fish naturally eat. Then what is it about this bait that makes it so affective and popular? Here is a quick list to sum up why it works so well.
Most fish are not bottom feeders. If your bait sinks into the weeds or lies on the bottom, fish simply won’t find it. When rigged with a slip sinker, swivel and a three foot leader, you can easily fish it from shore and put it where the fish find it. If you want to learn more about the easiest way to catch fish from shore, checkout my recent article to learn more.
Stocked trout love it
Powerbait is some of the best bait for stocked trout. Native trout populations don’t exist in many urban lakes and require annual stocking. These fish grow up in hatcheries and are fed pellet food so they grow fast. Powerbait closely mimics the food they grew up on and they go crazy for it.
Easy to use and store
It is hard to beat the convenience of bait that comes in a pocket sized jar. All you have to do is scoop out a small portion and mold it over your hook. No fussing with writhing worms or slippery minnows. It is not uncommon to use a single jar for several trips on the water..
At only a few bucks a jar, it is one of the most affordable baits available. A little bit goes a long ways. Every fish you catch will only cost a few pennies a piece.
Can you make your own Powerbait
Powerbait took nearly two decades to develop and perfect and is easily the best dough bait on the market. Replicating the Powerbait formula in your kitchen is probably not going to yield the same results.
That doesn’t mean however, that whipping up your own special dough bait is impossible. A quick Google search of dough bait recipes will yield several good options. They all have disadvantages when compared to Powerbait, but the homemade varieties can be remarkably effective.
Most homemade dough baits are not going to float well or last as long, but adding custom scents is a fun way to develop your own secret fish-catching weapon.
Personally, I find it does not save much money to make my own and I like the no-mess cleanup of Powerbait. Also, not everyone in the house cares for stinky scents in the kitchen.
Is Powerbait toxic
From my research, I have not found any information that suggests Powerbait is toxic or harmful to fish. Overtime, the bait will dissolve in water and it can easily pass through a fish’s digestive system. However, it does not provide any nutritional benefits and cannot be used as a food source for fish.
Even though it is not bad for fish, it is still not intended for human or pet consumption. Small quantities are not likely to be immediately dangerous but always call a doctor or vet if you think a child or pet may have ingested Powerbait.
What is the difference between bait and live bait
Simply put, live bait is anything living that is placed on a hook to attract fish by scent or taste. The most common live bait used by anglers are worms. Small minnows are also very effective baits. The wiggling action of live bait is especially attractive to curious and hungry fish.
Bait, on the other hand, includes non-living attractants. Things like Powerbait, corn, homemade dough bait, chicken liver and even marshmallows are classified as baits. Keep in mind that live bait is sometimes placed under the general definition of “bait”.
What is an artificial lure
Where things get a little confusing is the difference between artificial lures and bait. As lures and baits get more sophisticated and better at hooking monster fish, the lines blur and we enter a grey area.
An artificial lure can be made with natural or man-made material, which includes hair, feathers, metal, wood, glass, plastic, foam, cork rubber and other natural and artificial fibers. As long as it is not enhanced with scent or flavoring, it is considered a lure.
Artificial rubber worms for bass fishing that are impregnated with salt, like Yamamoto Senkos, are considered bait since it attracts through taste. Even a metal trout spoon is considered bait if you put any form of scent or flavoring on it.
Are artificial lures better than bait
If you want to start a heated debate, this is the question to ask. Every angler will have their chosen bait or lure that they swear catches the most and biggest fish. Yet if you were to give any two anglers the same bait, they will likely have differing levels of success. That is because fishing is also a skill that is developed through practice and experience.
There are many types of fish and even more variations of the food they eat. One day a fish may prefer to chase and eat minnows and the next day, the same fish, chooses to eat insects. The day after that, it may not eat at all. The best lure or bait is the one that matches what the fish are eating that day.
The most effective lure or bait will also be the one you use the most because overtime you develop confidence in how to use it. Learning how to adapt your techniques and lure presentations to the conditions is often more important than the specific bait you choose to use.
Other common questions
Are Salmon eggs live bait
As far as I could find, cured salmon eggs that are purchased or homemade are not live bait. Although, uncured living eggs may be considered live bait in some locations. Always check your local fishing regulations before using uncured eggs.
How do I know if it is legal to use bait
The only way to know for certain if any bait, including Powerbait, is legal to use in the exact spot where you fish is to check your local regulations. Take the time to find the definitions for bait and live bait that are set by your state’s fish and wild life department. Each state may have rules that are different.
To quickly access the information you need, go to our Fish and Wildlife page to find your state’s fish and wildlife website.
Can I use bait in National Parks
Most national parks do not permit the use of any bait. Only artificial lures and flies are permitted. Although, some parks do not have these restrictions for certain bodies of water.
One of the goals of the National Park Service is to preserve the natural ecosystem of the land and water within the park. In order to do this, there are often separate fishing regulations that best reflect the requirements of each unique environment.
The best way to find out the regulations for the park you plan on fishing is to visit the National Park Fishing home page.
Sometimes it seems like fishing regulations and rules get more confusing every year. It is important to make sure you stay up to date on changes to keep out of trouble.
Most lakes where fish stocking occurs are going to allow the use of Powerbait. Many thousands of anglers use it every year to put fresh trout on the dinner table. Until there is a complete ban on fishing, this stinky, doughy goodness is here to stay.