Do Largemouth Bass Eat Shrimp? Freshwater and Saltwater Feasts

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Close-up of freshwater shrimp's head in aquarium.

Yes, largemouth bass eat shrimp. There are freshwater and saltwater shrimp and largemouth bass eat both. Largemouth living in brackish water eat saltwater shrimp. Largemouth living in cool freshwater lakes and rivers have many freshwater shrimp to eat. Shrimp are easy targets for aggressive bass.

Largemouth bass can’t pass up easy, delicious meals. They’re aggressive and have elite hunting skills, but they’re also smart enough to take advantage of easy meals of minnows, crayfish, sunfish, and shrimp.

Largemouth Bass Eating Shrimp 

Bass are eager carnivores. They won’t say no to a good meat meal, and shrimp can provide that. Shrimp can grow to a few inches long and live in large groups.

If a bass stumbles into a group of shrimp, they can feast until full. Largemouths will use their large mouths to scoop up several shrimp at a time.

Freshwater Shrimp vs. Saltwater Shrimp 

The first time I used shrimp to fish for bass was in the middle of the summer in Florida. Some friends mentioned that we would use shrimp as bait. I went to the store and purchased a bag of extra small saltwater shrimp. 

I provided everyone with a good laugh when I pulled out that bag. I didn’t know there was a difference between the two. 

Close-up of bright yellow shrimp in a fish tank – Neocaridina genus.

Freshwater Shrimp

Many anglers think of trout fishing when using freshwater shrimp. Most freshwater shrimp live in tailwaters and cold areas where trout thrive. But shrimp will float downriver towards warmer waters into the waiting mouths of largemouth bass. 

Freshwater shrimp are smaller than saltwater shrimp and are often confused with scuds. Scuds look like shrimp, but they don’t have a carapace. 

Ghost shrimp and Ohio shrimp are some of the more common freshwater shrimp. 

They live in grasses and need access to moving water. If found in lakes, they usually drift downriver into a lake or reservoir. 

Freshwater shrimp are endangered in certain areas, but many parts of the United States have large freshwater shrimp populations. 

Whenever you’re using shrimp as bait, do your best to use the same type of shrimp the bass are eating. If you use a different species, bass won’t be as eager to eat it. Freshwater shrimp will work well suspended in the water column and sitting at the bottom. 

Saltwater Shrimp 

Largemouth bass can live in brackish water. Brackish water is a mix of fresh and saltwater with small saline levels. The saline levels are low enough that largemouth bass don’t become dehydrated due to the high salt levels in their cells. 

Saltwater shrimp are found in estuaries. When I was fishing for largemouth bass in the Mobile Delta, we’d throw a Gulp! Shrimp on a small jighead. Saltwater shrimp would move up the river towards freshwater as the temperatures warmed. 

Also, as the tide moved out, shrimp were the perfect bait. Largemouth would move closer to the ocean since the saline levels were lower as the tide left. Shrimp would still be in the estuary and more accessible for largemouth. 

The largemouth bass would feast on the shrimp sitting in the grassy areas. Largemouth bass living in brackish water still use their ambush tactics. They sit in grasses waiting for shrimp to drift toward them.

Shrimp are known to use the current to their advantage. They’ll make their way down current, letting it do all the work. Shrimp are some of the easiest meals for largemouth bass.

We’d cast our shrimp upriver of where the bass were sitting. We’d slowly retrieve them along the weed lines. We’d land three- or four-pound largemouth bass with these shrimp all day. We also caught drum, speckled trout, and redfish. The shrimp always led to multi-species days.

If the jighead wasn’t working, we’d toss a popping cork and tie a shrimp behind it. The popping cork created action with the shrimp trailing behind it. One of the methods would always work. 

Holding a big bass after catching it.

How Largemouth Bass Eat Shrimp

As mentioned, largemouth bass have ambush skills. Unlike smallmouth bass, they’re far less willing to swim in open water for food. Largemouths hide in the comfort of their cover or structure and wait for the opportunity to dart out, grab their food and return to safety. 

Shrimp live near vegetation on the bottom of rivers or lakes. If bass are searching the bottom, they’ll find shrimp. It won’t take long for them to eat their fill. 

Fishing with Raw vs. Cooked Shrimp

Live-bait anglers know there’s a major difference when fishing with raw and cooked shrimp. A cooked shrimp is firmer and easier to handle but can lose its scent and pink color. 

While bass aren’t picky about what they eat, they want their meals to look natural. An overcooked shrimp will be too firm and have little to no odor. 

Raw shrimp is more challenging to handle but has a far more natural appearance and odor. Bucketmouths have excellent eyesight, but shrimp’s potent odor is hard to ignore. That residue and smell are what you want when fishing for largemouth bass. 

I’ve used both when fishing for redfish and speckled trout and caught more largemouth bass when the shrimp is raw. That natural scent and presentation are hard to beat. 


Shrimp are an underrated bait to use when fishing for largemouth bass. Again, you must be sure that shrimp are in the water you’re fishing.

You’ll have a wonderful day on the water if you find them and the bass want to eat them. Bass know they’re an easy meal. They don’t hesitate to eat as many as possible.

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