How Long Does Bait Last in the Freezer?

How Long Does Bait Last in the Freezer?

A well prepared fisherman relies on their freezer to maintain their bait for their next fishing trip. For an active fisherman, bait in the freezer may not last long. However, some anglers decide to leave bait in their freezers for months or years at a time. Does bait last in the freezer that long? Will that bait still work effectively?

As long as the bait is preserved in salty water and vacuum sealed, the bait should essentially last forever when stored in the freezer. However, many people choose to store their bait incorrectly which can cause the bait to dry out and/or smell. If the bait is not vacuum sealed, it should still last for the entire fishing season as long it is stored in freezer-friendly packaging.

Can You Re-Freeze Bait?

In some instances, not all the bait that was brought on a fishing trip is used for fishing. For those situations, us anglers like to preserve our bait for the next fishing trip. However, there are a few things to be aware of when trying to re-freeze previously frozen bait.

Odds are that the bait was completely defrosted and exposed to sunlight and/or heat. If you decide to re-freeze the bait, the bait will lose its structure and become mushy next time it defrosts. Having mushy bait makes it extremely challenging to put on a fishing hook and can lead to a frustrating day trying to constantly re-applying bait.

Since the bait has defrosted, you will smell the rancid fish scents. Without proper re-packaging, that bait could stink up the rest of your freezer, especially if you store your bait with normal eating food.

Does Old Fishing Bait in the Freezer Work?

We have seen mixed results when fishing with super old bait. However, if the bait was vacuum sealed, it should still be effective for fishing. We have seen success catching fish with 5+ year old bait that was properly stored but have also used 3 month old bait that was incorrectly stored which was ignored by fish all day.

What Freezer Should You Store Fishing Bait In?

We actually have seen a slight difference in bait effectiveness depending on the freezer type. If the bait is not vacuum sealed, the bait in prone to freezer burn from the normal defrost cycles in a typical freezer. With that said, we recommend the use of a chest freezer to avoid these cycles.

If you can’t vacuum seal your bait when storing in a chest freezer, try to fill the bag with saltwater to eliminate air. This trick will make your bait last longer since their is zero contact from the air to try out your bait.

Any freezer that automatically experiences defrosts cycles are not ideal storages units for maintaining your fishing bait.

How Salt Can Preserve Frozen Bait

When storing chunks of fish or fillets (for bait), we have seen great success in salting the bait with non-idolized salt. For example, you can use pickling or kosher salt. Salt the bait heavily prior to storing in the freezer.

Be sure to make an executive decision on whether that bait is strong enough to remain on a hook. Mackerel bait tends to fall apart easily and it may be a better decision to just use fresher bait.

Salted clam bellies tend to work extremely well with this method. Fish absolutely love the flavor.


This topic is extremely relevant to me as I find that I always like to bring excess bait on my fishing trips. If its a good day fishing, I do not want to run out of bait! However, those slower days fishing force me to re-package bait to freeze for the next time that I decide to go fishing. Understanding the basics of how to appropriately handle frozen bait can make all the difference for your next fishing trip. Not only can re-freezing bait correctly save you money, but it can lead to a more effective results while fishing.

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