Sunday, September 26, 2010

" Cut Bait " explained

 As a fisherman , I'm guilty of telling people who ask me about baits  for saltwater fishing to " Just use some cut bait on a bottom rig , you'll catch something ". The question " What in the world is cut bait?" is often asked right after , so I'll go over it in detail today.

Let me start by saying that most saltwater species are not picky eaters and many are often cannibals. Some may be a little more choosy , but most will eat anything that drifts by and doesn't try to eat them. Using cut bait is a cheap and effective way to catch more fish and to catch fish that don't regularly feed on worms and shrimp.

The first order of business if you want to use cut bait , is to catch a fish or , as a last resort , buy one from a tackle store. I advise against buying frozen fish for use as cut bait. Freshness is critically important. Personally , I like to start with bloodworms or shrimp and catch a small Spot or Sea Mullet to use for bait. Even better options would be to use lures to catch a small Bluefish or a snag rig to catch Menhaden.

Once you have a fish to use , it's time to get busy. Scale the fish and fillet it , then cut the fillets into one inch chunks. Alternatively , you can cut the fillets lengthwise into strips to add movement to your presentation. I like to run the hook through the piece of fish twice because it holds better. Push the hook through the skin side first then turn the hook and push it back through. Keep the pieces you are not using in a cooler. Time to fish!

Just about any kind of fish will work as cut bait , but there are some that are better than others. Always make sure the fish you are using is a legal catch where you are fishing. My favorites have always been Spot , Menhaden , small Bluefish and Sea Mullets. Oily fish , such as the Menhaden and Bluefish , seem to attract more strikes , but the others will work just fine too.

It is very important to keep the bait you have in the water as fresh as possible. If I haven't had a strike in 20 minutes , I change my bait. After that amount of time the scent starts to wash out and the bait becomes less effective.

Save the heads of the fish you use for cut bait for use on fish finder rigs for larger species like the Red Drum , one of my favorite fish to catch and also one that will be discussed here on the blog in the next few weeks.

Have a great day!

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