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live bait

If that little guy is energetic and kicking, he's far more likely to invite an attack.

Live Baits

Whether you love fishing for reds, flounder are your main target, or king mackerel get you the most excited, on thing is for sure: the effectiveness of live baits can’t be overlooked. But all livies are not created equal. Well, maybe they’re created equal, but they won’t necessarily be equal when you pull them out of the livewell.  The fact of the matter is that the livlier that bait is, the more likely it is to attract the attention of a predator. Half-dead baits that lay on their side gasping aren’t nearly as good as those that dart around in a frenzy. So the next time you go live baiting, use these tricks to ensure the most action possible.

live bait

If that little guy is energetic and kicking, he’s far more likely to invite an attack.

  • Don’t overload the livewell. This is probably the number-one way people inadvertently harm their baits and it’s entirely avoidable. Different livewells are capable of supporting different numbers of baits and you’ll have to get a feel for just how many you can load into yours before it takes a toll. So pay attention to how your baits act on each and every trip, until you get a feel for how big a load your well is capable of keeping healthy.
  • On hot sunny days if you’re using a well that recirculates the same water as opposed to drawing in raw water, toss in a couple handfuls of ice every few hours to keep the water from getting overheated.
  • If you’re keeping baits alive for days at a time between fishing trips, feed them. Note: this will have a huge impact on how those baits act three or four days after they’re first caught, yet few people ever feed captive baitfish.
  • Use hooking techniques that don’t pin the fish’s mouths shut. Most fish take in water via their mouth to breath, and if you put a hook through both jaws it can seriously smother them. Instead consider going sideways through the nose, into the mouth and out the top jaw, or through the back.
  • Never let a baitfish drag backwards through the water. Again, this can smother them. While tail-hooking methods are effective at times, don’t use them when a fast drift or a slow troll won’t allow them to swim forwards.



  1. Randy Blanton says:

    Rather than throw ice in a live well or aerated bait bucket to keep the water cool we keep water bottles in the freezer and throw them in. It doesn’t dilute the water (especially with salt water live shrimp and croaker) and they are reusable. We rinse them off after each use and refreeze them. We keep them in the drink cooler until ready to use. We mark them with a sharpie to keep from confusing them with the drinking water bottles.

  2. A B Hedges says:

    I patent livewell cooling systems (patent pending)

    Attach our chillers to livewells – boats, bait tanks with or without tubes, land livewells

    Fresh water & ocean water chillers
    Very innovative design & compact – expect the Best Quality
    Website under construction

    Fin-Tastic llc

    A B Hedges
    [email protected]


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