A very popular live bait, minnows or shiners probably rank second only to live worms. Minnows can be used to catch almost any type of fish and can be used with numerous rigs. Though game and pan fish love minnows, fishing a minnow in its natural position will give the best results. Dead minnows will catch fish, but live minnows will always work better.
How a minnow is hooked depends on the fish your after and the rig used. As illustrated, minnows can be hooked in one of two ways. If using a float, hook the minnow in the back just below the dorsal fin. If fishing on the bottom, hook the minnow through the lips. Both methods will put the minnow in a more natural position.
A very active minnow can move a float around and make it bob up and down. This is fine as long as the minnow can't pull the float under. Watch the float when using a minnow, erratic movements will many times indicate a fish nearby. Also, if the float goes under, set the hook right away. Don't let the fish play with the minnow, since the it's live bait, the fish will try to swallow the minnow. This often results in a deep hook set that will kill the fish, even if you don't plan to keep it.
Because you may be fishing all day long, it's important to take special care of your minnows. A few simple steps will help to keep the minnows alive for a longer period of time. First, keep the minnow bucket out of the sun, the warming water will just kill the minnows. A battery powered aerator can be placed in the bucket to replenish the oxygen, or replace the water with fresh lake water every couple of hours.
If you don't normally use live bait, give minnows a try, especially when teaching kids to fish. The action can be non stop.
Worms or night crawlers are probably the number one live bait used. For most fishermen, their first memories of fishing included worms. Even though fish probably never see worms in their everyday lives, they do love to eat them. Worms are available almost everywhere, anytime of the year. This includes bait shops and your own backyard.
If you want to find worms, look under large flat rocks, in the garden, or in the driveway after a good rain. If you want to attract worms, lay a piece of flat concrete over some bare soil that stays cool and moist most of the time. When you're ready to go fishing, lift up the concrete and take the worms you need. Worms can be fished suspended from a bobber or on the bottom, it depends on the fish your after. As shown, worms should be threaded on the hook, not in just one spot leaving the rest to dangle for the fish to nibble on. If fishing for small fish such as bluegill, try using just pieces of the worm on the hook.
It's important to keep your worms alive as the day goes on. To do this, keep them in the container they came in and keep them cool and moist. Don't leave the container in the hot sun, this will only kill the worms. To save the left over worms for another trip, place the container in the refrigerator, they'll can stay alive for weeks that way.
Though grasshoppers and crickets are good baits, of the two, crickets are used more often. Crickets are easier to raise and care for, and are available at most bait shops anytime of the year. If you can't get any crickets, grasshoppers can usually be caught in nearby fields.
Grasshoppers and crickets work well when fishing for panfish. Hook them just under the surface of the thorax. Grasshoppers and crickets can be fished using a bobber or on the surface if using a floating line.
To keep the grasshoppers and crickets alive, place them in a screened container. One can be purchased at almost any tackle store. Place a piece of apple or potato in the container to provide a source of moisture for the grasshoppers or crickets. Also, try to keep the bait out of the sun and in a cool place.
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