Bait Magnets

 

Bait Magnets

By Capt. Gus Cane

Live bait enthusiasts know you can never have too much bait on board and one of the fastest ways to “black out” a live well is by chumming. Several methods are effective, but soaking frozen blocks of chum is the most popular.

Available at tackle shops and marinas, frozen chum typically consists of ground-up menhaden or shrimp trawl by-catch. It usually comes in 6-pound blocks in wax-paper boxes. The block slips easily into nylon bags with mesh openings from 1/4 to 3/8 inch and a drawstring closure. To activate, simply lower the bag into the water, give it several good shakes to start the flow and tie the bag off on a boat cleat. The current and occasional shake will do the rest. Before stashing the container box in a bucket or hatch, dip it in the water to remove any residue and add to the slick.

As the chum starts to thaw, oil and tiny particles (scales, bits of flesh, skin) will slowly drift behind the boat in the current, forming a noticeable slick on the water’s surface. The combination will soon attract different kinds of bait depending on the water depth and location. Pinfish, blue runners, ballyhoo, pilchards, herring, and sardines are the prime baits attracted by the chum. Once the bait arrives, small jigs, Sabiki® rigs or a cast net can be used to gather the bounty.

Dry commercial chum, typically menhaden pellets in burlap bags, is another alternative. Dry Chum is vacuum-bagged and can be stored indefinitely, so there’s less mess and waste.

Some anglers prefer to make their own chum using ground-up fish carcasses and frozen menhaden or mackerel. A grinder mounted to plate and placed in a stern rod holder can pulverize this raw or frozen concoction directly overboard. Although more labor-intensive than soaking the frozen blocks, this method does work well. There are also products like the chum churn.  that hangs over the side. The long slender tube is filled with fish parts, and the internal blades chop and dice as the handle is pumped.

Do-it-yourself frozen blocks aren’t difficult to make either if a large chest freezer is available. Dry cat food or oatmeal soaked with water and generous splashes of menhaden oil can be poured into quart-size plastic zip bags and frozen. On the water, put them in a mesh bag and soak over the side just like the store-bought blocks.

Mesh chum bags can be bought in bulk and then thrown away after the trip. If you prefer to recycle, however, tie the empty bag off the transom cleat, so it dangles in the water on the run back in. The waves and splashes will scour it clean for the next time you want to chum for bait.

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Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com 

Terminally Well

 

Terminally Well  

By Capt. Gus Cane

Even the most expensive rods and reels are worthless without critical hardware. Catching coastal fish requires a wide variety of terminal tackle—the hooks, swivels, line, leader, crimps and other components that complete the rigs. You might be targeting a certain species. But in the briny, you never know what might show up so it pays to be fully prepared to capitalize on whatever opportunities might arise.

Obviously, line is needed on the reels. The choice between braid and monofilament is a personal one. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Having multiple combos on board offers more flexibility and allows a quick switch from light to heavy if the situation calls for it. If space is limited, carry spare spools loaded with different line classes in case of a break-off, bird’s next or the need to scale up or down.

A similar situation exists with leader material. Multiple spools of different line strengths allow for fast changes. Monofilament leader works well for many applications. For super spooky fish or in clear water conditions, fluorocarbon leader is another option. Again, there are pros and cons to each leader type. Having a mix in the tackle bag will cover all bases. Toothy game fish like king, Spanish and cero mackerel, along with wahoo, barracuda, and sharks, often require the use of wire leader. Single-strand, coated and multi-strand cable are all handy depending on the circumstances. A mix will handle any variables.

The same holds true for an assortment of terminal tackle. Hooks come in multiple styles, sizes, and strengths. A thin-wire 1/0 circle hook nose-hooked to a small pinfish is a good match for a trophy seatrout. But that same hook would be way too light for feeding a palm-size pilchard to an 80-pound tarpon. Similarly, the treble hook on a six-inch surface popper just won’t work as a stinger hook on a kingfish rig. That’s why quantity, quality, and application are so important with terminal tackle. You could go through multiple rigs during a hot bite, and you certainly don’t want to run out or have the wrong stuff. Be prepared, and you’ll be ready for whatever you might encounter.

A good way to organize terminal tackle is by type and sometime species. Clear plastic tackle boxes with multiple (or adjustable) compartments allow loading by size or style. For example, keeping multiple sizes of swivels and crimps in one box allows a quick visual reference. Hooks and sinkers can be organized the same way. The boxes can be color coordinated or labeled with tape or magic marker. Loading several boxes in an open duffel bag makes them easier to tote.

Don’t forget the specialized terminal tackle items either. Plastic beads, copper wire, rubber tubing, dusters, dental floss, floats and balloons all have their place in special rigs. Don’t overlook the rigging tools as well. Pliers, crimpers, needles, deboners, bait knives, scissors and other accessories should be kept with the terminal tackle for quick access.

When you’re 30 miles offshore on a weed line loaded with gaffer dolphin, you don’t want to run out of the right hooks or rigs. Stock up and organize your terminal tackle and you won’t be disappointed.

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Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com