Coastal Chaos: Tips for Being a Better Bait Fisherman

By Capt. Ted Lund

Live bait is a critical key to success for saltwater fisherman targeting trophy gamefish like wahoo, billfish, king mackerel, tuna, and others. But there’s more to bait fishing than meets the eye — from tackle selection to dehooking and handling (or not) baits.

One of the most effective methods of procuring large amounts of live bait is through the use of sabiki rigs and spinning tackle. This hook-and-line method allows anglers access to hardier baits than those caught using cast nets or hoop nets. They’ll not only last longer but will be livelier and more attractive to predators.

One of the saltwater fishing’s leading experts, Yamaha Outboards Pro Staffer Capt. George Mitchell says the first thing anglers need to consider is their tackle.

“There is a little bit of an art to catching bait with sabikis and a little bit of tackle involved,” says Mitchell.

For smaller baits like herring, sardines, and pilchards, Mitchell prefers a 12-pound spinning rod that is six feet or longer. A 4500-size spinning reel loaded with 20-pound braid gives the smaller, size 4 or 6 quill rigs more action.

When targeting larger baits like blue runners or google eyes, Mitchell up-gauges his tackle with a 15-pound action spinning rod and a larger reel.

“I prefer a 5500-size reel loaded with 30-pound braid,” says Mitchell. “They work really well with the larger sabiki. These bigger baits pull harder especially when you have multiple baits on the same rig.”

Regardless of the species, Mitchell is a big believer in handling baits carefully upon capture.

“The better you take care of your baitfish, the better care they’ll take of you,” says Mitchell. “I always have several types and sizes of wire de-hookers and match them to the size of the bait. Larger baits like blue runners or google eyes require a stouter de-hooker than small baits like herring or pilchards.”

When prospecting for bait, Mitchell likes to use a couple of different types of sabikis.

“By starting out and mixing up the styles and sizes of the sabiki rigs, you can determine which type the baits prefer,” says Mitchell. “Start with what you think they’ll like, but don’t be afraid to experiment.”

If the bait bite is on, Mitchell prefers to grab the lead on the bottom of the sabiki, starting dehooking at the bottom quill. Hold the baits directly over your well so they’ll fall directly in with no fear of removing scales or their protective slime coating. Any baits injured or bleeding during capture should be separated. They can be iced and used as dead baits for bottom species like snapper and grouper.

Because larger baits fight harder, Mitchell suggests giving them a rest in the live well prior to deploying them.

“You want a good, free-flowing live well to keep the baits healthy and happy,” says Mitchell. “Remember, lively fresh baits are the way to go and details matter.”

For more serious tips for serious saltwater fishermen from Capt. George Mitchell and Coastal Chaos or to learn more about the entire range of Yamaha’s reliable four-stroke power, visit

Original Source: Sportsmans



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