Paddle Power in June 2021

There are several things that fishing guides like myself utilize to ensure a productive time on the water and one of those things can trip up the kayak crowd, but you should take the time to get right with your bait. Of course, you can catch all kinds of fish with artificial lures! In fact, situations where you are on the move or hunting for fish, using a lure is the best way to go. The ability to cover water and dial in a bite is achieved considerably better with any number of artificial. However, when the search is over, and you’ve found your fish or when that perfect spot is in sight with early morning light kissing the water and you know they are there just waiting for a snack, break out some frisky live bait – it’s a sure-fire way to get every bite possible.

Correct bait fishing tends to be a slower pace and that’s why search mode is reserved for lure chucking. Before you can clear the hurdle of “correct” bait fishing all kayak anglers need to master keeping bait alive and happy on the limited space available on our kayaks. There are a multitude of ways to keep bait alive and the type of bait your using will determine what extent you must go through to guarantee that your bait arrives at the fishing spot looking good and ready to fish. When pogies (Atlantic Menhaden) are on the beach they can be the best bait ever, but they have a requirement of continuous fresh ocean water or they won’t be long for this world. Whereas a load of nice shrimp can be magic on a fishy mangrove shoreline and can be kept happy with a simple bubbler in a bucket. A popular solution for bait holding that works for just about everything is the Flow-Troll bucket. Unfortunately, when they are being pulled behind the kayak it feels like you are dragging a pair of 5gal buckets back there. Bait tubes can fulfill this holding method and their PVC tube style tends to have a bit less drag in the water. Bubblers are a great solution if you are looking to hold the bait on your boat and not drag it behind. The range from small battery operated to slightly larger battery operated, and even a 12v one like I use that is powered by a small lawn mower battery housed in plastic “ammo box” style with the bubbler. The battery setup I use also runs a live well pump that I will utilize when I need constant flow for fragile baits like pogies. The shape of your bucket or live well is also very important and will help extend the life of your bait and keep it healthy. Round is considerably better that rectangle or square. Eliminating the corners keeps them from bumping the sides and stressing out. The easiest bait to keep alive are mud minnows, mullet, pinfish, croakers, and shrimp. White baits like pilchards, threadfins, greenies, and pogies are much harder and take some work to keep happy. Live baits are not the only way to fish in every situation, but when the bites are not happening, and you know fish are present they will increase your odds turning a slow day into great fishing.