Catching Live Bait 101
First let me be specific in this discussion. We are talking about Venice Louisiana, there is muddy river water on our run down river and back up. There are only LIMITED ways to keep bait alive in our marina AND there are no LIVE BAIT BOATS....What i'm saying is you MUST catch your bait daily, use it or loose it:)
Now with that understanding let's keep this discussion to Summer fishing, Venice is very seasonal and the "Live*Bait" discusssion could go on forever. There are several kinds of summer bait we use, Thread-fin Herring, Small Hardtails, Large Hardtails, Bar-Jacks, and ButterFish (that's what I was told they are)....As well sometimes we can catch Scads or Disco Minnows ? ? (don't know what they really are)....
First we start in the mornings by scanning the shallow water near the passes, if you choose Tiger pass, Southwest, South or other similar passes such as Flat-Boat or Baptise make sure you scan the area as you are heading to deeper water. Look for diving birds and busting King Mackerel. Spend some extra time "Tooling" around this area, if you pass the bait you have already limited your chance of success on YellowFin Tuna by one bait species. It is possible to find Threadfin Herring deeper and they do move up and down the coast line.
Second, stop at the close in rigs to pick up some hardtails, I will use two different sabiki's in order to catch different size biat. I use a really small sabiki, like a #4 and on my other bait rod I use a larger sabiki with a much stronger hook, maybe a #8.....Get as close to the rig as you feel comfortable and work as tight to the structure as possilbe. Don't pass up the single rigs, pipes or bouys, often these hold tons of bait and are void of the predators that steal your biat like sharks and barracuda.
Finally, hit the destination structure once you are on the Tuna ground, it is possible the exact bait the Tuna are feeding on can be caught right there where you are fishing. Don't bank on this and pass the bait early, it is likely you could regret this move.
Other areas to look for bait along your way out are grass lines or floating objects. If bait is spotted put a small sabiki on and catch a few more, at this time it is possible you will need to use a smaller weight.
Let's talk about the actual rig for catching bait: I use a spinning reel spooled with power pro of 20lb diameter and start with a 1oz pyramid sinker. If there is no current or if the bait is real shallow I change to a 5/8oz tear drop sinker. Remember to always use two different sabiki's and two different size weights, unless of course you are really catching them on one (1) specific set up.
I feel this worth mentoning, if the Threadfin herring are on top, similar to the way Mullett swim, don't throw a sabiki with a big weight, you will go through the school and fish beneath them. And as far as tips or hints here you go.
Hint: Always use a de-hooker and never touch the biat THE WILL DIE.
Hint: Do NOT allow your anglers to put their hands in the bait well or wash off in the bait well
Hint: If the ThreadFin are on the top use a weighted popping cork where the weight would go. :)
Hint: Try up-current and down current side of the rigs and try different depths
Good Bait Catching to 'ya,
Captain Mike Gray