Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keeping Minows Alive Longer

Whenever we’re enjoying some Florida fishing, we almost always use live bait, usually minnows. And by “minnows,” I mean mud minnows and finger mullet. We catch the mullet with a cast net, and we either catch our own mud minnows with a trap or buy them from a local bait shop. In this post, I’m going to provide you with a few saltwater fishing tips for keeping your minnows alive longer.

A lot of fishermen use the flow-through bait buckets for their minnows. We’ve used them, too, but from our experience, the bait doesn’t stay alive as long as it does with an aerator. We use an insulated 5-gallon bait bucket with an aerator clipped to the side. Our bait bucket has a perforated lid that locks shut. We’ve been able to keep mud minnows alive for close to a week. Check out the following saltwater fishing tips to extend the life of your bait:

1. Use an insulated bucket to prevent your minnows’ overheating.
2. Don’t overcrowd the minnows.
3. Use an aerator, and have several extra batteries on hand. Keep an extra aerator handy, too, in case the first one “dies.”
4. Use as much water as possible in the bucket, and use clear water. Add some “new” salt water periodically.
5. Feed the minnows every day. We use dried bread crumbs for this. Just sprinkle a little food in the bucket at the time.
6. Check the bucket several times a day for any dead minnows and remove them.
7. Check your aerator frequently to make sure it’s working and that the bubbler weight remains on the bottom of the bucket.
8. Keep the bait bucket in the shade as much as possible.
9. When you’re removing minnows from the cast net or trap, handle them as little as possible and get them back in water as quickly as you can.
10. Use a small aquarium dip net to retrieve a minnow from the bucket.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Saltwater Fishing Tips

Whether you’re a newbie to fishing or an experienced angler, you can always benefit from saltwater fishing tips. This is especially true if you’re new to saltwater fishing. In other words, you might have thousands of notches on your freshwater fishing belt, but saltwater fishing is a different ballgame, so to speak. Of course, you’ll use many of the same skills and techniques, but you’ll need some different ones, too.

Why you need saltwater fishing tips

I’ve been fishing for close to fifty years, but I’m always looking for new saltwater fishing tips. This is especially true when I’m fishing a new area. For example, I fished northern Florida for decades, but when I first began fishing in Southwest Florida, I had to learn some new saltwater fishing tips. For one thing, I had to learn about snook, and for another, I had to learn about fishing around mangroves.

The same held true when I first began fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the water there is much clearer than it was in my previous fishing spots, I needed to acquire a few new saltwater fishing tips. It’s a lot tougher to “sneak up” on fish in really clear water! I had always heard this, and it makes perfect sense, but it really hit home the first time I tried to catch bait in the Gulf with a cast net. I’m a fair hand at netting fish, but I became very frustrated. I’d toss the net right over a big school of finger mullet and come up empty. I had to re-learn cast netting for the Gulf.

Where to get saltwater fishing tips

Some older, experienced fishermen are often too “proud” to ask for help. If that’s the case with you, you can always read about saltwater fishing tips online or in print magazines. I’ve learned a lot that way, but I usually prefer getting advice from locals. Strategies can vary even within the same areas, and the locals usually offer the best saltwater fishing tips for the exact location you’re fishing.
I really enjoy pier fishing, and I’ve landed some huge fish from piers. When I fish a new pier for the first time, I quickly make friends with the local fishermen on the pier, and I don’t hesitate to ask them for a couple of saltwater fishing tips. When you’re friendly and honest, most anglers are more than willing to share some advice with you. Be upfront with them. Tell them you’ve done a lot of freshwater fishing, but saltwater fishing is new to you. Or tell them that you’ve done a lot of saltwater fishing in other areas, but that this spot is completely new for you.
Another good place to get a few fishing tips is at local bait shops and at stores that sell fishing equipment. These folks are usually in touch constantly with local anglers, so they know what’s biting, where they’re biting, and which baits the fish are hitting.

My husband is older than I am, and he had been successfully fishing the Outer Banks of North Carolina for many years. When he moved south, however, he had to employ some different saltwater fishing tips. You wouldn’t think that fishing Florida and Georgia are any different than saltwater fishing in North Carolina, but they are. Even the baits used are often different.

Fishing is rarely a one-size-fits-all activity. Strategies, baits, fishing gear, and other saltwater fishing tips vary from place to place and from season to season. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice. This doesn’t diminish you as a fisherman! If you fish a lot of different locations, your catalog of what works best where might get a little confusing and difficult to remember correctly. To avoid this, I like to keep a saltwater fishing tips journal.