When you visit Hells Canyon, make sure to take advantage of the river! The Snake River offers a variety of fish to catch this summer, and River Adventures can guide you to the best fishing spots. As you pack your tackle box for the day, include the best bait to use while fishing in Hells Canyon.


Many types of artificial lures are meant to imitate the movement of the minnow. Some fish are smart enough to avoid those brightly colored lures. But species you’ll find in Hells Canyon fishing—such as smallmouth bass, crappies, and rainbow trout—can be fooled in the presence of live minnows. When fishing with live bait, always keep a supply of minnows on hand, as they attract a wide variety of fish.


Steelhead, sturgeon, and salmon often go for roe. Steelhead fish in particular don’t like seeing free-roaming fish eggs. They will gravitate towards them to protect them by popping the eggs in their mouths and freeing the baby fish inside. Roe is especially effective in catching predator fish, but you’ve got to be quick in reeling them in! They won’t keep those eggs in their mouths forever, as they don’t intend to eat them. Try making a small sack of roe to attach to your hook so chinook salmon and steelhead hold on a little longer and you don’t risk losing your bait before you hook your fish.


Live crayfish are a luxurious treat for any game fish, including bass, trout, and catfish. Hard-shell crayfish are easier to secure on the hook than the soft-shell variety. Crayfish are often sold at a premium at bait and tackle shops, but you can also catch your own. Peek under logs and rocks in shallow waters, or bait a minnow trap with bread or meat to lure crayfish in. Game fish can’t resist the scurrying, scuttling movement of the crayfish—it tastes like a lobster dinner to them.


Shad are a classic baitfish. They’re larger than minnows and found in schools. Catch some shad yourself by finding them in warm, well-oxygenated water. Use a cast net to catch a whole bunch of them and use them as bait for catfish—or sturgeon, the largest freshwater fish species in America. Sturgeon swim in darker waters up to 100 feet deep, and they are accustomed to hunting by smell. It’s not unusual to spray down a shad or other live bait with WD-40 to catch a sturgeon’s attention.

When you head to Hells Canyon to do some fishing, be prepared to use a variety of live bait. You have a multitude of options at your disposal, but these critters are the best bait to use while fishing in Hells Canyon.