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How to Catch Your Own Bait

A typical Pilchard used as a bait fish.

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A typical Pilchard used as a bait fish.

KC Spaulding, Staff Writer

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Catching your own bait is a time consuming pain, but if you want to spend the time and effort to do it, here are some of the best ways to do it.

There are all types of bait in the ocean, and some are more fragile than others. If executed correctly, you can keep certain types of baits alive for several months at a time.

The quickest way to catch most types of bait is by using cast nets. This is a method that involves throwing a net into water no deeper than the radius of the net. Bait in cast nets typically don’t live as long as other bait due to the constant throwing and harsh movement of the net itself.

The types of baits that live the longest in a bait pen are pilchards, threadfin, sardines, and goggle eyes.

A bait pen is a large circular cage or pen used to keep bait alive. The reason some people put the bait in a bait pen is to feed them and fatten them up before using them in tournaments.

The only baits you can’t cast net and put in a bait pen are thread fins, sardines, and goggle eyes.  The weights from the cast net beat the fragile baits up too much, and they die within the first day.  These baits all have to be hair hooked or quilled to prevent this from happening.

The most important thing about keeping your bait alive is once you get the bait, it must be fed at least once or twice a day. The second is that you can’t put two different types of bait in the same bait pen because this could cause fighting or fish eating each other and you certainly don’t want that.

The best thing to feed penned bait is wet cat food or frozen brine shrimp. However, goggle eyes tend to like red meat chunks like skipjack or black fin tuna and mostly any blood line of a fish.

K.C. Spaulding is a fourth-generation fisherman on the fishing boat Caribsea, a local family-run and family-owned business.

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How to Catch Your Own Bait