Best way to hook up live bait

You can learn how to rig live bait on a simple fish hook, as well as the best practices for don't waste time trying to catch up a bunch of minnows to go fishing.
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Try trolling a minnow around until you find the school, then throw plastics at them. The top half of the tide is the best time to get them.

South Florida/Keys

Pike can be caught around bridges and lighted jetties at night using small minnows or plastics but its not something you can rely on unless you find a decent sized school that stays in the same area. If all else fails, trolling through the canal estates around runaway bay or around Marina Mirage with a shallow running minnow such as an Rapala XR6 can pick up a couple of large ones.


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Pike can also be caught offshore on the shallow bait reefs, sometimes during the day but more often at night. You can also catch them on any flesh baits or white pilchards. They are a different species but the fish still like them just as much, getting small ones can be a challenge though, the average size can be around 45cm. Usually caught on the 6 hook bait jigs, they can also be caught on baits of peeled prawn and any fish flesh.

They are much easier to catch at dawn than during the day or at night. Weather permitting Yellowtail are probably the easiest of the livebaits to catch, slimies are alot harder to catch and not something you can rely on. Look for the other boats east of the sand pumping jetty in m of water to find the shallow bait reefs. GPS Coordinates for the best bait reef section I know is as follows: Do a drift around that area and you will find the bait.

Livebaiting the Seaway – The Ultimate Edition

Mulloway and cod will still happily take a live mullet of any size, but will hold them in the mouth for a while to descale them before swallowing, the fish spitting the bait is common. For this reason, Mullet are usually a last option for me. The best chance of getting live mullet is in a cast net, try in any of the canal estates close to the seaway.

You can catch sand mullet on a hook baited with bread, just berley them up in places like Loder's Creek and Biggera Creek and use a size 12 hook with a small bit of bread under a float. Herring can be caught around jetties and bridges, cast nets are preferred but they can also be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs. Herring are probably the most used livebait in the seaway but they do attract bream all the time which is annoying. These small baitfish have limited uses in the seaway but can be useful for catching tarpon, trevally or tailor.

Numbers of these fish are seasonal and tend to hang around different places every year so its pretty much as case of catch them when you find them. Most of these fish can only be caught with a cast net, but hardyheads can be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs. Squid are an ideal livie and you can catch them around lighted areas at night particularly if there is a bit of weed and rubbly bottom, such as the Broadwater Parklands Jetty, the Grand Hotel Jetty and the lighted area's near Ephraim Island.

The only problem is they wont last in a livewell and die quickly so use them quick if you get them. Even as a dead bait they are pretty good though. Kingfish will rarely refuse a live squid. Tailor are useful as a livie for big Mulloway, Kingfish and Sharks but make sure you use its over the legal size of 35cm, check the Tailor fishing article for more hints on those. Occasionally they will show up just at the end of the north wall at night on a runout tide and you can use a net to scoop them up. Using a red light will help you see the eyes of the prawn without spooking them.

Most fish will hit a prawn but Jewies seem to particularly like them.

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Silverbiddies also have a good reputation, cast netting around sandbanks are the main way of catching them, but the bigger models can be caught on peeled prawns and small hooks. Garfish are also a very good bait, and Kingfish love them almost as much as they do pike. They will also sit in large schools on the North Wall Flats on run out tides at night if the swell isn't too big.

You can cast net them if they are thick. With a long livebait like pike two hooks are essential, the top hook goes through the top and bottom of the mouth and the bottom hook goes above the backbone along the back ensuring the line between the two hooks is loose enough for the pike to swim naturally. Mullet have a very hard top of the mouth and a very soft bottom of the mouth so you can hook them through the top of the mouth if you can work your hook through the bone.

Livebait Rigs

You can also hook them just behind the head and down near the tail above the backbone. Herring are best hooked with a single hook through the nose. With very large herring you can go to a double hook rig, once through the nose and the other just in front of the tail. Yellowtail and slimies can be used with a single or double hook rig, with a single hook it should be placed in the nose if you are fishing in high tidal flow or just below the dorsal fin if fishing in an eddy. With a double hook rig, the top hook goes in the nose, the bottom hook goes just before the tail above the backbone.

As a long bait and prone to attacks by tailor, the two hook north wall trace is recommended. Break the beak off and place the top hook through the start of the beak and the second hook through the back above the backbone. Tailor are best fished with a two hook rig, the bottom hook goes just before the tail, make sure it is above the lateral line, the top hook goes just behind the head. I recommend trimming the tail to slow the fish down a bit. Squid are best hooked using a 2 hook rig similar to pike.

The bottom hook goes through the skin between the eyes and the top hook goes into the top of the cape near the point. This allows the prawn to flick around unhindered.

Fishing with Live Finger Mullet

Big deadbaits are rarely used in the seaway, apart from the odd person using a fillet of something or pilchards. Pilchards however are too small and are more likely to hook Shovelnose Rays and the like. Using a fillet can be maddening with the amount of bream around, they will soon strip the bait of all flesh.

The best deadbaits to use are Tailor and Pike and the best method of presenting them is to half butterfly the whole fish. Basically this means to cut off the tail and cut a fillet down one side but leave it attached to waft around. Mulloway and big Tailor in particular love this type of bait presentation but most decent fish will have a go. You can fish them on both the standard running sinker rig and the north wall rig. A slow lift and drop that keeps the sinker just off the bottom works best, just drop your bait to the bottom, then lift and drop it.

You may have to release line if the current flow is fast to make sure your bait stays near the bottom. I use a modular rigging system when livebaiting. This ensures that I can change sinker weights and fishing styles without having to retie knots every time you fish a different area. You can go from the north wall rig to the standard rig to an unweighted rig in seconds. There are a number of things you need to be able to do this. One is pre-tied traces, those with wire between the hooks and those without in a number of hook sizes. Secondly you need a number of Klik Sinkers in different sizes, these enable you to add and subtract weight depending on the area you are fishing when using the standard rig.

The modular rig also ensures I can change a trace in seconds if it gets damaged by fish or rocks. The important end of a modular rig is 5 metres of lb mono then a 5mm bead any craft supply shop will have these , then a heavy duty clip. The bead is necessary to stop the clip from the north wall sinker rig tangling with the snap clip, so don't forget it if you intend on using that rig. You will need a number of different traces for livebaiting the seaway with a mix of line strengths, hook sizes and number of hooks. Traces will need to be changed frequently due to banging around in the rocks and damage from fish so make sure you carry enough for a session.

Ideally you should match hook size to bait size, you don't want to be using too large or too small a hook on a bait. Here are the hook sizes I use for certain baits:.

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In my opinion hook styles don't really matter, use whatever you want. Circle hooks work but depend on how you like to fish, I would only recommend them for those who like to anchor as the sit and forget style works alot better with these hooks. What matters most is that the hook be appropriate in size for the bait you are using which I have covered above. All of the hooks shown in the picture below are Gamakatsu Octopus style.

The unweighted rig is rarely used but definitely has a place in a good setup. Its use is situation specific, in other words if you see fish swimming around an unweighted livebait thrown to intercept is often eaten. Kingfish are a classic target for this technique, but it will also work on Giant Trevally and Tailor. Another good use for it is to cast a livebait around the end of the north wall and let it swim around in the eddy on a run in tide.

Big tailor who have been ignoring lures will often grab a unweighted live pike thrown in close to the rocks. In the modular system all you do is clip on a premade trace, hook the bait on and you are ready to go. This Metre long Kingfish took an unweighted pike cast to intercept a travelling school. The Standard Running Sinker Rig. The standard running sinker rig is the most used rig in the seaway for livebaiting. It is effective for all types of fish but care must be taken not to let it roll around on the bottom otherwise you will get snagged alot.

Drop it to the bottom, then lift it up a metre. This will let the bait swim around half a metre off the bottom. Care must be taken in strong tidal flows not to let the bait get too far off the bottom so you should drop it to the bottom and wind up once every couple of minutes or so. The North Wall Livebaiting Setup. I use a different livebaiting setup for the north wall and deep hole area during a run in tide, the reason for that is the high tidal flow and rocky bottom make using the standard running sinker rig very prone to snagging.

I sometimes need to go up to a 6oz sinker to hit the bottom on days with very large tides when using large livebaits. The rig consists of a 5 m long shock leader of lb mono tied on to the main braided line of lb. On to the shock leader goes a bead around 5mm in diameter then it is tied to a high quality clip rated 80lb or more.

Next part is a sinker oz depending on tidal flow on a 1. This clip is then attached above the bead. Concentration is essential with this rig, as the main idea is to keep the sinker on the bottom and the bait swimming that half metre above the bottom. You manage the rig by holding the sinker once the livie is attached, then swing it over the side and drop it to the bottom.

With braided lines you can feel the sinker hit the bottom each time, so very 30 seconds or so lift the sinker off the bottom and set it back down. The sinker is sacrificial and will sometimes get stuck in the rocks but the 12lb leader on the sinker trace will break long before any of the other parts. The swimming attitude is like a deep-diving swimming plug.


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Throat hooking forces a bait into the depths, perfect for midlevel fish. To manipulate the bait, free-line it, and then pause the line for several seconds and continue to free-spool. Repeat until the bait is in place. Every pause prompts it to swim harder, and a low, forward hook placement forces the bait to swim deeper.

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When anchored for bottomfish, fishing a sinker behind a leader ranging from 5 to 40 feet long, the sinker rests on the bottom while the bait scurries just off the ocean floor with the freedom of the long leader. A bait hooked near its anal fin is also a great way to make baits swim away from a stationary platform, like a pier, jetty, bridge, beach or shoreline.

A bait hooked near its anal fin can be manipulated into a specific area. This is a good bottom and even middepth bait with a long leader, such as 30 to 40 feet common when rigging for mutton snapper, because the extra-long leader provides enough latitude for the bait to swim. A constantly working live-bait rod is an excellent addition for pelagics, particularly when live-chumming. The midbait hook placement virtually guarantees a solid hookup. View the discussion thread. Skip to main content. Follow us email facebook twitter Google Plus instagram youTube rss.

Nostril hooking is ideal for surface live-baiting. Become a Better Angler. Throat Throat hooking forces a bait into the depths, perfect for midlevel fish.