Do Fish Eat Turtles?

Turtles share a lot of the same water as fish, especially predatory fish like bass and northern pike. Sharing these waters with predatory fish but turtles at risk of getting eating.

Many fish like bass and catfish will eat a turtle if the turtle is small enough to eat. 

What Kind of Fish Eat Turtles?

Not every fish will eat turtles, and in some cases, it’s the turtle that may eat the fish. However, for certain types of fish, particularly predatory fish, a turtle makes for an appealing meal.


Perhaps one of the most known predatory fish in North America is the bass. Bass are ambush predators and are known for feeding on many strange things they can fit in their mouths.

Amongst the strange things they feed on are turtles. Bass frequently feed on small turtles that swim through their territory.

However, bass don’t seem too interested in a still turtle but get aggressive and more predatory if the turtle is swimming.


Catfish can grow quite large and have no problem swallowing small turtles. While turtles don’t usually make up much of a catfish’s diet, they are still known to eat the odd turtle.

Catfish are omnivores and mostly bottom feeders; they use their great sense of taste and smell to find food. Catfish don’t like to put too much effort into finding their food and are not predatory.

However, if a dead turtle is lying at the bottom of the water, a catfish would make a quick meal out of it.

In many instances, catfish have been known to underestimate the size of a turtle and have the turtle get lodged in its throat. Sometimes the catfish survived the ordeal, but most of the time, the turtles die.

Pike & Muskie

Do Fish Eat Turtles?

Pike and muskie are famously known as apex predators across North America. These fearsome fish strike fear into any swimming creature smaller than them, and even some that are bigger.

Quite often, pike and muskie share the same water with turtles, making hunting them an easy task.

Can Fish Digest Turtles?

Fish can digest the turtles that they eat because they only eat small turtles. A bass or a pike will not eat a large turtle. For the most part, the turtle would be too large to fit in its mouth. 

Even if they could fit the turtle in their mouth, the shell would be too hard to break or digest.

However, small turtles or baby turtles have a much softer shell than large turtles. Fish can make a small job of eating and digesting a small turtle.

Most of these fish have a set of teeth further back down their throat that grinds the food. This makes digesting a turtle easy.

Some catfish have tried to eat larger turtles, which often results in the catfish’s injury or death. The hard shell on the turtle is too difficult for the fish to digest. 

It also makes it difficult for the fish to swallow as it is not flexible, and this causes the shell to get lodged in the fish’s throat.

Can You Use Turtles as Bait?

Probably one of the best-kept secret baits is turtles. As mentioned above, bass will readily feed on moving turtles.

A few companies are making turtle lures, but they are not as mainstream as other types of lures.

You fish the lures just like any other type of lure. You want plenty of action to get the bass interested.

When fishing with a turtle lure, I like to jerk it as winding it rather than just a straight retrieve. I’ve seen a much bigger success rate by retrieving this way.


Some fish like bass and catfish eat almost anything they can fit in their mouths, including turtles and even birds.

Turtles share a lot of the same water with these types of fish. However, more often than not, fish will seek out an easier meal.

Turtles do not make up the main part of a fish’s diet, but a fish will eat a turtle if the opportunity presents itself. 

Many anglers have come to notice this and have found success using turtle lures to catch fish successfully.

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