Tips for Catching Bait

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This little guy went right into the livewell, and would soon be offered up to a finning cobia.

Few things in the world of fishing are more frustrating than heading out at first light with the plan to catch live baits on hook and line and then go for big game… but being unable to catch the darn bait. We’ve all been there, and truth be told there’s no cure-all solution short of going out and catching your bait the day before a trip and keeping it in the livewell or bait pen overnight. Even then, you risk getting skunked. There are, however, a few precautions you can take to stack the deck in your favor.

fish for bait

This little guy went right into the livewell, and would soon be offered up to a finning cobia.

  • Get real. As in, real bait for the live bait. Sometimes Sabikis and/or artificial bait like Fishbites will work great. But other times they don’t, while those little nibblers will be all over a tidbit of shrimp.
  • When using Sabikis, tip them with a tiny tidbit of bait or Fishbites. Depending on the species you’re after, this can make a huge difference (or in other cases, none at all!)
  • If you’re getting nibbles and missing the hookups, check your hooks closely. The tiny hooks we use for bait-sized fish are more easily damaged than thicker, stouter hooks. The points can bend, get flattened or dulled, and you might never notice. Missed bites is a sign you need to pick up on.
  • Always carry a cast net and be prepared to revert to netting if hooks aren’t getting the job done. These can’t be used in all scenarios, of course, but there’s a fair chance you can recall a time or two when you saw baits with your eyes or fishfinder, yet couldn’t get them to bite to save your life. In some cases, one throw of the cast net is all it will take to turn things around in a heartbeat.

And remember, no matter what you should always have a backup plan that doesn’t involve catching bait at all. Because sometimes no matter how hard you work at it, you just won’t be able to catch those silly little fish… and if you don’t have an ace up your sleeve that will mean you can’t go catch those big fish, either.

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