Shiners for Trophy Bass
This section covers everything you need to know about bass fishing in Florida with shiners.This is about preparing you in advance for your trip to eliminate any unforeseen bumps in the road but mostly what we are about is teaching you how to catch bass…big bass and lots of them with all the same techniques the professional guides use. We’ll cover bait accessories, bait tanks or livewell and even hook setting techniques to increase your odds of hooking up.
The ultimate thrill, as a guide, is helping people catch the biggest fish of their life. Just watching the shiners trying to get away from a bass that’s stalking them is exciting in itself. They will actually clear the surface while trying to escape. Then you see the big swirl behind the bait and you know he is about to get ate. This is when your heart starts racing and you know you have to be patience and wait until you’re sure the fish has taken it. The bigger fish almost always take longer, sometimes four or five attempts, to take the bait than the smaller fish. I don’t know for sure if their just not as agile or as fast as the smaller fish or they just like to tease their prey. Either way it’s exciting to watch!
Live bait for trophy bass
Fishing with live bait seems to be frowned on by the bass purest. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard people say that if they didn’t catch it on artificial they would not claim it as a trophy…me for one. I’m not writing this to defend live bait fishing. Between guide trips, I would fish tournaments which of course are strictly artificial. But if I wanted to just go out and have some fun I’d get a couple dozen shiners and go to my favorite lake. I’d also use these fun trips as scouting trips to locate areas for future tournaments and guide trips. 100% of my trips have been with live bait and that’s the customers choice.
I booked a trip with a guy coming to Florida to vacation at Disney World with his wife and 12 year old daughter. While making the arrangements, he kept vacillating between live bait or not. Finally he agreed on taking just a couple dozen for his daughter but he would primarily fish with artificial. The morning we met he said he decided on just one dozen. I told him it was too late to change now because I already had them in the boat, since this is something that has to be done ahead of time if you want to have bait. I was not
about to go out on the lake and expect a 12 year old to enjoy herself while throwing artificial all day. Well, after she had 2 bass in the boat in the first ten minutes and he had a brim, he was in the bait tank. The two dozen shiners didn’t last very long. It turned out to be a very successful trip with several fish including his 8 pounder. After that trip he became a long distance friend and would call me for advice on future trips and equipment purchases he made after I taught him how to cast a level wind reel.
Often I will have customers wanting to fish artificial and live bait at same time. You can combine the two but it will cost you in missed fish especially with the shiner bite. Too often you’re concentrating on the artificial trying to detect the tic when fishing a worm or tube. Or you’re trying to keep a close eye on the floating worm or slugo type bait. Next thing you know you’re float is missing and the clicker on your reel has not sounded because the fish is moving off to the side or towards the boat and not moving away which would sound the clicker. By the time you discover what has happened the fish is gone, tangled in another line or the fish has swallowed the bait which can be lethal. On my trips I usually do not fish so I can keep an eye on the live bait rods while my customers fish. But when it’s just you and your buddy, no one is baby sitting the shiner rods. Worse case scenario, someone has accidentally bumped a rod and engaged a spool, and the next thing that happens is the rod goes over the side when a fish takes off with it. Now your spending a couple of hours trying to fish out a rod you may never find.
Here are a few tips to help eliminate the latter from happening:
- Always lay your rod down so the reel handles are pointing up. If you should happen to kick the rod, there is less chance of the reel engaging.
- Occasionally reach down and tug on the line to insure the reel is still in free-spool.
- Install rod holders that lock the rod in but also allows for easy removal when you get a bite.
- Most important, keep an eye on what’s going on with the shiner rods and don’t neglect them.
Not trying to discourage, only preparing you for the consequences you may experience by trying to combine both artificial and shiner fishing at the same time. If you feel like you must experience it all and you have limited time to cram it all in then go for it. Shiners can produce when nothing else works. Follow the tips above to eliminate any disaster from happening but most important Have Fun!
Maintian Your Livewll/Bait Tank System
For healthy shiners check out Bait Tank Water
Myth vs. Fact-How to Set the Hook
Gut Hook - What Should I Do?
How to Hook Your Bait to Avoid Injury
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