Multiple different bait types are commonly used for rockfish, including these great options.

The best way to catch Rockfish is by using a live lining.  Live-lining is a simple method of using live small fish to catch a big fish.  We are going to talk about it further below.

When it comes to choosing rockfish baits, it all comes down to location, as there is no one size that fits all. If you are fishing from a pier, the best rockfish bait would be peeler crab, and if you are on a boat then the perfect bait would be alewife.

Some people even prefer chicken skin and consider it to be highly effective Rockfish bait.

There is a lot of confusion about choosing the right bait for Rockfish thus we decided to put an end to this discussion once and for all.

Rockfish Baits to Consider

1. Alewife

Alewife made it to the number one spot for the best Rockfish bait as it was just outstanding. Make sure that they are alive when using them baits as they turn into mush right after a day.

We tried both live alewife and frozen ones as baits, we got nothing with frozen ones and the live ones never disappointed. I would definitely have to say that the live alewife baits are just amazing.

It is really tough to freeze the rockfish however I finally figured it out. All you have to do is to add table salt, ice cubes, and seawater into a bucket and then add the Alewife into it. I was proud of this technique to freeze alewife but unfortunately, the Rockfish did not bite and I had to switch to the live ones.

Key advice: Make sure they are fresh and alive.


2. Spot

Rockfish love Spot. We caught a few Spot fishes and used them as live bait and they worked like a charm.

The process is to use a worm or bug to catch spot fish and then use the live spot fish as bait to catch the bigger Rockfish. This process of using live small fish to catch bigger fish is called live lining. In this method, you hook the spot and cast it into the water and let the live spot swim around to attract the Rockfish.

You need to be a little patient here as you have to make sure that the Rockfish swallows the spot and once you are sure it has just reel it in.

Live spot fish bait is 100 times better than any artificial lure to catch Rockfish.

3. Peeler crab

Peeler crab is a little expensive if you are planning to buy them but I like to collect them at the shores at save a few bucks. These crabs like to hide near the shore which has rocks and weed.

Just head out to the shores with a bucket and flip some rocks over remember Peeler Crabs think rocks and weed are a safe place to hide so they hide under them. Get your hands dirty and flip those rocks over to find peeler crabs.

I spent 1 hour looking for peeler crabs near the shores and found over a dozen of them.

Once, you have collected peeler crabs, I remove the shell and extract the soft portion of the crabs and then hook it in and use it as bait.

Peeler Crab

4. Eel

I prefer using Eel as bait as it is very durable and you can catch some really big sized rockfish with it. Make sure you keep them alive by placing them in water during the fishing trip.

I pop them into iced water just a few minutes before hooking them as this numbs them and makes it easier for me to handle them. Once, they are numbed insert hook point from the upper jaw to the lower jaw. Use the circle hook.

Now, remember not to put them into iced water for long but only for a few minutes before fishing by doing so when you put them on the hook and cast it into the water the Eel becomes ultra active and tends to attract the Rockfish towards it.

Eel may not be available throughout the year however when they are in season I always prefer using them and I recommend the same to you.


5. Perch

Perch is probably the easiest to find and catch bait fish on this list as they are not so picky when it comes to food, you can use minnows, insects, and bugs to catch Perch and keep them alive by keeping them in the water or a bucket of water.

When catching Perch remember to use lightweight lures. One of my friends used to use green fishing light to attract Perch and this way he could gather a handful of Perch fish and then use them as bait to catch Rockfish.

In order to catch Rockfish with Perch remember to keep the Perch alive.

Perch fish bait


Some anglers have also used chicken liver and bloodworms as bait to catch the Rockfish however personally I found these to have fewer conversions. You can still use them as alternates if nothing from the list above is available.

Also, one rule of live lining is to ensure that you do not release the fish back into the water if it has swallowed the hook or if the bait is still in its mouth. As this would eventually kill them and they would sink to the bottom of the waterbody.

Lastly, do check fishing rules and regulations for the area you plan to fish as in few areas live lining may be banned or live lining using a particular kind of bait can also be banned. So, knowing them up ahead would be the right thing to do.