If you've ever wondered which fishing bait is the best in the world, then you and I are on the same wavelength. Naturally, one would suspect that the winning bait would depend on what type of fish you’re trying to catch, and what it likes to eat. I beg to differ. In fact, which bait is best depends more upon your own palette. Use this factor to judge, and you’ll never be disappointed—because if you strike out on the fish, you can always eat the bait. Here are my favorites:

soft crab bait

Soft crab is a serious contender, for the title of World's Best Bait.

1. Soft Crab – As a born-and-bred Marylander, I take my crabs seriously. So do the striped bass, croaker, flounder, and sea trout swimming around in the Chesapeake Bay. Soft crab is a can’t-miss bait for all of these fish, and when they fail to chomp on your hook, the crabs can be sautéed in butter and Old Bay. Give ‘em five minutes on each side, until they turn deep red and the legs have some crunch. If you think crabbing might be as fun as fishing in the first place (and you’re not far off target), check out Crabbing 101: Trot Line, Pull Traps, and Chicken-Necking.

2. Eels – Live eels are an absolute killer on cobia, stripers, and even white marlin. I know what you’re thinking: Eeeeeew. But trust me, eels taste great. You can marinade them in a brine with Soy sauce, lime juice, and Worcestershire for 12 to 18 hours then put them in a smoker. But a much easier way of enjoying eels is to make a sea-going Slim Jim: sprinkle some lemon juice and Old Bay over the eel, pop it into the microwave, and press start. When it pops, sizzles, and shrivels, it’s time to munch. Yummy.

3. Shrimp – What trout, redfish, or snook in its right mind would turn down a live shrimp? Why ask why—just be thankful that those pesky fish didn’t eat your expensive appetizer. Steam, fry, or grill them, as you please.

4. Squid – Virtually every predator outside the inlet likes eating squid, and that includes me. Cut the body into rings, dust ‘em with flour or breading, and deep fry them for no more than two minutes. Note to self: cut out the ink sack, before cooking.

5. Bloodworms – Eeeeew x 2. Okay, I’m crying foul, on this one. I've yet to meet anyone brave enough to try eating these things and that includes myself. If anyone out there has given it a shot, please let me know by leaving a comment in the box below. On second, thought, don’t!