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Finding Live Bait

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Finding Live Bait

Postby shakenbake » April 20th, 2017, 2:55 am

I moved to Tallahassee in 2012 and have lived here ever since. I have been fishing the big bend coastal area pretty frequently for several years now and have become somewhat familiar with it from St. Marks to the west end of Dog Island. With that being said, I am from Pensacola where live bait almost always took priority over artificial baits. I have primarily fished with artificial baits (i.e. gulp, mirrolure etc) since moving to the area. With that being said, I would like to get into fishing with live bait again (Pilchards etc) but do not know where to find them.

Like I already mentioned, I am relatively familiar with the areas mentioned above but my preference is to fish from Alligator Point to the west end of Dog Island. Not asking for specific fishing spots, but would be greatly appreciative for some suggestions of places to try to throw the cast net for some live bait around the Lanark/Dog Island area. Not really sure when the bait really starts showing up here so I may be a little early with this post, but any tips/suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby ragandad » April 20th, 2017, 7:31 am

When the weather and water get warmer, I usually find live bait 1/2 south of the lighthouse. Look for grass and their is usually bait.
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby Steve Stinson » April 20th, 2017, 8:06 am

Umbrella Cove at the East tip of Dog Isl. You will see the boats stacked up in there tossing cast nets early each morning before all the beer drinkers show up. :thumbup:

I grew up fishing Tampa Bay where you HAD to have live greenbacks to catch any decent sized snook or reds. The heavy fishing pressure educated the fish to the point they would not take artificials during the daylight hours. We guarded our bait holes more than our fishing holes, and it was a pain in the butt to cast net bait and keep them alive all day.

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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby fearthespear » April 20th, 2017, 8:32 am

Steve Stinson wrote:Umbrella Cove at the East tip of Dog Isl. You will see the boats stacked up in there tossing cast nets early each morning before all the beer drinkers show up. :thumbup:

I grew up fishing Tampa Bay where you HAD to have live greenbacks to catch any decent sized snook or reds. The heavy fishing pressure educated the fish to the point they would not take artificials during the daylight hours. We guarded our bait holes more than our fishing holes, and it was a pain in the butt to cast net bait and keep them alive all day.

Steve Stinson


I also grew up in the Tampa Bay area (Bradenton) and pretty much only fished with shiners--used jack mack and bread to catch them at the skyway and on the flats when they moved into shallow water...

Do they have the same type of bait here?
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby big bend gyrene » April 20th, 2017, 8:38 am

I primarily target cobia in our area and one of the first tasks I tackle each trip out is getting bait.

As long as the grass is healthy (years that the water gets too stained can kill grass in areas) you can fill up a bait well fairly quickly with pinfish by tipping one of the smaller "winged" sabiki rigs with tiny pieces of gulp and drifting it along areas of grass cover. If you're wanting smaller pins for trout and slot reds you often can find them closer to shore in the depths between 3' to 6'. If you're wanting bigger pins for cobes, sharks, kings, or grouper I tend to find slightly bigger pins with just a tad bit more water and would aim to catch the pins in 5' to 8' waters.

Tipping the sabiki hooks with gulp is key if you want to catch them quickly, and don't be lazy about retipping as soon as the pieces get pulled off. You'll can catch pins on an untipped sabiki but it will be at a FAR slower pace. As long as grass and pins are in the area, if you tip you'll get tapped by 1, 2, or 3 pins on nearly every drop. :thumbup: :beer:
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby big bend gyrene » April 20th, 2017, 8:47 am

As for other bait, we do sometimes catch pigfish, sand perch, spot tail pins, tomtates, sardines, threadfins and blue runners but at certain precise spots versus just about anywhere on the flats as with the pins.

Hard to go wrong with pins in our area though, as you're almost always "matching the hatch" when using them. If looking for a bit more sleek profile when using big pins we'll sometimes clip the dorsal fins down closer to the body so they can't flare them up when they're getting eyeballed by predator fish.
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby Steve Stinson » April 20th, 2017, 9:47 am

Yes, they have the same bait, but not for as long of period. The colder weather up here sends the bait schools back to the South in the fall.

You and I probably fished some common areas. Bishop's Harbor down toward your end of Tampa Bay was one of my favorite places to snook fish. :thumbup:
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby DixieReb » April 20th, 2017, 10:07 am

Spend some time using the sabiki rig like BBG said and you'll get bait. Sometimes, finding pinfish small enough is not easy. We usually get a few and keep them in livewell.
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby randymullaly » April 20th, 2017, 1:48 pm

If you are looking for Grouper, Kings and Cobia, don't overlook grunts for bait. They work great! Same idea with a little gulp on the hook. Do suggest you make or buy a heavier Sabiki than what you use for pins. Grunts get big enough to filet and even though that's not what you want, they are plentiful. Great videos on Youtube to make your own Subiki. Easy to do and only takes about 5 minutes. I keep a half dozen in my bag (individually packed in sandwich bags) with different size hooks.
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby RCS » April 20th, 2017, 3:05 pm

Alligator Harbor gets loaded with LY's (the later in the summer, the bigger they'll be), any grass in the area will hold pinfish this time of year, and pilchards will be on most of the flats in 2-4'...just watch for birds and bait flashing, then throw on them or drop anchor and chum.
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby woopty » April 20th, 2017, 5:58 pm

I'm with BBG...

Slap a big ole honking pinfish on there and hold on.

woop
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Re: Finding Live Bait

Postby Salty Gator » April 20th, 2017, 6:14 pm

woopty wrote:I'm with BBG...

Slap a big ole honking pinfish on there and hold on.

woop


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