Catching Live Bait Like A Pro
If you prefer live baiting rather than using man-made lures, that choice may be expensive even in the summer months. Purchasing live bait can be expensive and at times you take the risk of getting to the tackle shop and they’re out. Or bad weather from the prior days kept the commercial bait catchers off the water. Your next choice is to buy it or catch it yourself.
First, let’s start with Cast nets. They come in shapes and sizes as well as lengths, nets with small mesh sizes, like ¼-inch and 4-foot diameter, are used for small baits like shrimp, mud minnows, and other small species of bait in shallow water. Bigger nets like a 12-foot net with 5/8-inch mesh and more lead per foot sink faster to catch faster baits such as ballyhoo, menhaden, and mullet. As I mentioned earlier, Cast nets come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the task. The same is also true for the price. You invest a small amount of money at Walmart and get a net and you go be back in a couple of weeks buying another. The quality, ease of use, and casting success will vary with the price.
Once you buy your new net, especially if you’re new to casting for bait, there are 3 words to remember….practice…practice…practice! Watch out for bottoms that may snag your net and make sure there’s nothing behind when starting your cast. The numerous weights you’re throwing will not feel good to you’re fishing partner, or help you’re boat’s windshield.
Sabiki rigs are probably the least used of the bait catching options. They’re mainly used in deeper water to catch larger baits. These pre-tied light monofilament leaders are rigged with multiple small hooks with a thin coating of attractant and a weight to hold then in the water column. This is important since you want the rigs to get down to potential structure of something that’s holding the bait. Just drop them over, let them sink and give them a little bit of jigging and wait for the bait to hit.
Once catching your bait, it’s very important to take steps to keep that bait fresh. Fish will respond much better to fresh live bait than dead or near dead bait. A good and clean live bait well will do the trick. Make sure it has an aireator and it’s in good working condition. Fill it with sea water rather than water from an onshore source that may have chemicals in it.
Gathering you own bait will save you money while providing you with fresh bait. As the weather turns cooler the bait will become less easy to locate if not impossible. Be prepared for an alternative such as artificial baits or purchased baits when that time comes.