A WHILE BACK I went out with surf fishing expert Marcus Heflin. One of his friends was talking about putting on some stingray for bait.
Savvy surf fishermen know that stingray is primo shark bait. In fact, certain species such as hammerheads specialize in preying on these potentially dangerous creatures.
The rays about the size of a dinner plate rigged on a large circle hook in the surf or set out behind a chum bag at a rig or wreck is an excellent way to lure in a big shark.
Some Texas bait camps carry rays, which are caught in shrimp nets as bycatch. I thought it would be fun to look at different types of strange bait found at Texas camps as well some you will have to catch for yourself.
Tadpoles—Throw a live tadpole under a cork around a farm pond and you are liable to be slammed by a big largemouth bass or a catfish. Both love tadpoles as well as frogs and the bigger the tadpole the better.
They are rarely used in Texas. However, in some states they’re common among live bait specialists who are more about catching fish than the art of luring them in.
Bullheads—Also known as “mud cats,” are arguably the best bait for large flathead catfish. A good portion of the big flathead photos submitted to this magazine over the years have noted the fish was caught on these small catfish.
Popular, especially with jug and limb line fishermen, the big flatheads cannot seem to resist them.
Sea Lice—These strange looking creatures are marine parasites that feed on the mucus, skin and blood of host fish. They look like a crab crossed with something from the Alien films. They make great bait for black drum, especially the big ones.
A number of bait camps along the coast carry these disgusting looking creatures. Besides drum, they are effective for sheepshead and redfish
Goldfish—Goldfish are another bait popular with catfish enthusiasts although introducing them into certain ecosystems is probably not a good idea. They are not as popular as they used to be, but they still show up in bait camps in East and Central Texas.
Once again, these are typically used by trotline and jugline fishermen but occasionally someone will hook one up below a bobber in search of “Old Whiskerface.” If you do use goldfish though, do not be surprised if a largemouth bass hits it first.
Marshmallows—No one knows why, but it seems rainbow trout have a sweet tooth. Some anglers who catch the ones stocked by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department do best with marshmallows—for real.
Seems a couple of marshmallows threaded on a hook is a great way to catch rainbows.
I caught my biggest rainbow trout ever—a five-pounder— on a marshmallow/earthworm combo on Eagle Mountain Lake in California in 2006. A few minutes later my wife outdid me and caught a seven-pounder on the same baits.
Weird or not sign me up if it catches fish.
Pier fishing along the Texas coast is easy and convenient. Whether you’re fishing for shark, red fish, spotted sea trout, or flounder, there’s a pier close by with plenty of room for everyone.
—story by CHESTER MOORE