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Live baitfish are often the most productive baits for certain fish and fishing conditions. There are very productive in many of the coastal waters. Here are some hints on finding and keeping baitfish.
 

Live baitfish and shrimp are proven for Very good for on using throw netcatching Drum, Sea Trout, Flounder, Bluefish, and other fish all along the coast. They are also proven for sweet water fish. Inland, nearly any baitfish can be productive. On the coast it is better to match the local conditions and appetites. Mullet, Minnows, Glass Minnow, Pinfish, Sardines, etc. are relatively easy to catch during the recreational season, very productive, and hardy to fish with. Shrimp are also productive but harder to catch and more delicate to fish.

There are at least three ways to get baitfish. One way is to buy them. This is often expensive and hard to do; especially if you run out during the trip or determine you need them away from town or dock. Another way to get baitfish is to use a trap. There are several good articles on traps at CatchNBait and CastNetWorld so I will not try to duplicate any of that here.

Cast nets are often the quickest and most effective way to get baitfish. Cast nets can be used anywhere including off the front of your boat. Just corral fish in a slough and cast the net and you have none to twenty baitfish. Sizing is important in that you don't want to lose fish but you also don't want to catch every little thing in the ocean. I have found 3/8 inch mesh size to be the most effective in North Carolina where I fish. Diameter is also important. I have found, with my limited skill, that nets larger than 6 diameter are more difficult to throw and will actually catch less baitfish than small nets. Again, there are tutorials at CatchNBait and JustCastNets. Here are some cast nets to help you boat baitfish.

Betts Cast Net
This series has been designed over the years to become the work horse in the industry. These nets are asked for by name more than any net made. All the things looked for in a net are in this series. Packed in a durable tackle utility box with full how to instructions. Because of their weigh, we do not ship cast nets outside the lower 48 US States.
Betts Cast Net
Old Salt Cast Net 3-1/2 Foot
The 3-1/2 foot size is a smaller size and good for very targeted situations or when very close to the baitfish. This may be a tough size in deeper water.
$43.95 plus $6.95 shipping
Betts Cast Net
Old Salt Cast Net 4 Foot
The 4, 5, and 6 foot sizes are probably the most popular overall sizes of cast nets. Any of these will do nicely with the idea the larger the more difficult to get them to fully open.
$45.95 plus $6.95 shipping
Betts Cast Net
Old Salt Cast Net 5 Foot
The 4, 5, and 6 foot sizes are probably the most popular overall sizes of cast nets. Any of these will do nicely with the idea the larger the more difficult to get them to fully open.
$55.95 plus $7.95 shipping
Betts Cast Net
Old Salt Cast Net 6 Foot
The 4, 5, and 6 foot sizes are probably the most popular overall sizes of cast nets. Any of these will do nicely with the idea the larger the more difficult to get them to fully open.
$69.95 plus $7.95 shipping

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Once you have baitfish you must keep them cool and oxygenated to make them most productive. For instance, for ambush fish such as flounder productively may rise by a factor of 2 or 5 with a lively minnow. Many will suggest an aerator or an aerated live well. Others will only keep fish in a bait bucket over board (keep the bucket in a 5 gallon bucket when moving). Neither method is foolproof and some baitfish are tougher than others.

 

Good Baitfish and Fishing Links
LinksFisheries and Wildlife by State
LinksMore good freshwater, saltwater, and trout fly fishing links
Travel site to your fly fishing destinationFlounder Recipes -- Recipes used often
Travel site to your fly fishing destination Expedia.com - Excellent travel site, the one we use
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