Tips for Better Bailing

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Mahi like this are attracted to anything floating on the surface of the ocean.

You’ve been on the ocean for hours without a single bite, when you spot it: a board, cargo net, or a refrigerator floating on the surface. Heck, it doesn’t mater what it is. If you see an item larger than a five-gallon bucket bobbing around in the waves, you’ve located a potential mahi-mahi gold mine. The question is, how will you capitalize on it?

angler with a mahi-mahi

Mahi like this are attracted to anything floating on the surface of the ocean.

Bailing is the natural answer. While trolling around flotsam will hook you up with plenty of fish, tossing over handfuls of chunks followed by a baited hook almost always puts this species into a full-blown frenzy. It’s not always as easy as it sounds, however. The next time you try bailing, keep these three tips in mind and you’ll catch more fish.

  1. Rig a rod with a heavy jigging spoon, drop it down 100 or so feet, then crank it back to the boat as fast as you can. It’s rare that a fish will hit this jig. However, the largest fish in the area will often stay down deep well below the main school. They’ll commonly follow the jigging spoon back up to the surface out of curiosity – and then start slamming baits.
  2. If the mahi turn up their noses at your offerings and you have a livewell full of baits, try some live bait chumming. Grab the baits by the handful, and bounce them off the side of your boat or a motor cowl. The stunned fish will skitter along the surface in circles, which drives mahi-mahi utterly insane. Next thing you know every fish in the school will be fired up and attacking every potential meal they see.
  3. If you need to reposition your boat as you drift away from the flotsam, stop throwing chunks and force yourself to wait until you drift at least 70 or 80 yards away from the object holding the fish. Shifting into gear causes a metal-on-metal “thunk” that can scare the fish and shut them down cold. So, you want to make sure there’s plenty of distance between you and the fish before shifting into gear.

BONUS TIP: When mahi ignore fish chunks, try tossing a whole squid into the water. The tentacles flutter as it drops, and the fish usually just can’t resist the temptation.


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