bait·​fish ˈbāt-ˌfish How to pronounce baitfish (audio)
: a small fish (such as a golden shiner or menhaden) that attracts and is a food source for a larger game fish
also : a fish used for bait

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Once the sun goes down the walleye head for the rocky shallows to feed on gizzard shad and other baitfish. D'arcy Egan, cleveland, 12 May 2022 The fish uses it in the wild by swinging it back and forth through a school of small baitfish. Ed Killer, USA TODAY, 11 Apr. 2022 Other baitfish can also be clues, but the mullet are the most consistent indicator. Frank Sargeant, al, 31 Oct. 2021 When vertical fishing started in fresh water, most anglers used jigging spoons like the Hopkins Shorty, a heavy little slab of chromed steel, to get deep in a hurry and imitate a dying baitfish. Frank Sargeant, al, 17 Oct. 2021 Large redfish are also running along this bar, and can be caught on live croaker or other baitfish. Frank Sargeant, al, 27 Aug. 2021 The humpbacks often work as a team, swimming in circles and blowing bubbles to create an underwater curtain to corral the baitfish. Tom Stienstra, San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Aug. 2021 Oversize redfish are active on the bars and riprap at the passes—large Tsunami swimbaits get them, as do live porgies or other baitfish in the 4 to 6 inch range. Frank Sargeant, al, 16 Apr. 2021 Don’t be afraid to try oversized swimbaits and umbrella rigs for fish that are focused on eating baitfish. Jeff Gustafson, Outdoor Life, 6 Jan. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'baitfish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1755, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of baitfish was in 1755

Dictionary Entries Near baitfish

Cite this Entry

“Baitfish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

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