There aren't many fish out there as fun and easy to catch as a ladyfish, especially for the kids, or when you just want to have some good fun, hooking into a big ladyfish will always make the day, and natural baits will always catch these hungry fish.
The Best Baits for Ladyfish
In the wild, ladyfish mostly consume small baitfish species like sardines, mullet, anchovies, or menhaden, so these are obviously great choices for bait. Overall, these baits can be either live, dead, or even cut into chunks and used quite effectively.
Menhaden are possibly the favored meal of a Ladyfish. One study of stomach contents found that almost 75% of the food eaten by ladyfish were menhaden alone! So, if you can castnet a good few dozen or so back in the estuaries, menhaden make the perfect bait for them. They can also be found frozen and be very effective under a bobber that way, too.
Mullet are extremely abundant within estuaries and lagoons, and are great baits for just about anything, including of course a ladyfish. Look for smaller mullet in the three-to-four inch range along the shorelines of flat shallow areas for cast netting, or buy them frozen just about anywhere that sells bait.
Sardines are also very abundant in most of the estuaries, and are great ladyfish baits. Sardines are about as shiny as they come, and the small ones can usually be cast-netted near the shorelines first thing in the morning, or near structures like channel markers, docks, and pilings in shallow water.
Anchovies are the small one-to-two inch fish that most fishermen call "glass minnows" because of their see-through appearance. Although anchovies make up a large portion of a juvenile ladyfish's diet, they can be a great bait for "live chumming," the process of taking a handful of anchovies at a time to get the fish spruced up.
Other Baits that will Catch Ladyfish
Like most fish, ladyfish are opportunistic, and primarily eat fish like menhaden and mullet because that is what is around to eat. It's generally best to "match the hatch" and use the most common bait in the area, but any fish you can get your hands on with a bit of shine will work. Small mojaras, pinfish, or even smaller ladyfish!