You want to catch big fish, and save a few bucks at the same time? Catching your own bait is one way to make it happen. On the other hand, when bait-catching gets difficult it can also be quite frustrating to burn up your fishing time trying to catch small fry. These tips, however, should help make it happen in short order.
- Carry a regular top-and-bottom rig and some Fishbites. Most small fish will grab Fishbites without hesitation, and since it comes pre-packaged it’s easy to shove a pouch into your tackle-bag and leave it there indefinitely. Using this tactic, you’ll often have no trouble catching croaker, pinfish, and similar species that make great live or cut baits. Be sure to use small hooks (#6 for six-inch baitfish and #8 for smaller fish).
- Carry a cast net – and learn how to throw it. There’s an art to throwing a cast net, and mastering it takes a lot of practice. It’s best to start off with a smaller net (eight or 10 feet, for beginners) until you can make it open up regularly. Once you’ve got the technique down-pat, however, nothing beats a cast net for gathering just about any kind of bait that swims – shrimp, minnow, finger mullet – you name it.
- When catching finger mullet, be sure your bucket has a top that closes up. Finger mullet have an amazing ability to jump right out of any bucket you put them in. As soon as you shake them out of the net, close that top up. If you’re dropping them in a livewell, same goes, the moment the fish are in there close up the hatch.
- Look for bait near bridges. Bridges are commonly built at choke-points on waterways, and they create a ton of structure. Accordingly, anywhere there’s a bridge there’s a good chance of finding bait.
- When cast-netting from a boat, consider starting out in the pre-dawn hours and look for lighted docks (or bridges). Lights attract hordes of bait, and if you go to a lighted area before the sun comes up you have an excellent chance of filling the livewell with one or two throws of the net.