How do I attract and catch baitfish?
Response by Dwayne Cooper - Dated 05/08/04

    My background: Before I started guiding down on Okeechobee back in the 80's, I researched the shiner industry hot n' heavy and got to know most of the commercial shiner fishermen and marinas down there. Basically, I had a list of guys I could count on in case the supply got low. I also spent a lot of time "every day - mornings are best" baiting holes and catching we had a backup source of shiners in case the supply was really low that year. (If you are a guide and don't have are pretty much out of business down there). I'm proud to say that we never ran out of shiners. We had 2 huge tanks set up at our cabin to hold our reserve shiners. I had another huge tank in the back of my pickup truck that I used when I needed to transport shiners (pretty much all the time). Every morning, I'd usually pick up 10 to 12 dozen fresh shiners daily and take em' to our boats that were always on a slip in the rim canal. This was always done before we did the last minute marina stop (for coffee, snacks and whatever) and last minute update of the weather report.     Want to catch your own supply of shiners? From a guy who's caught thousands of shiners (by rod and net)'s how:

  1. Pick 5 likely spots to target shiners. (ie. opening of small trails/ditches, outside edge of eelgrass/pads) and bait these spots with a healthy scoop or two of hog feed (higher protein than dogfood and won't float away - trust me, don't use dog food!). If you can't find hog feed (try your local Co-Op)...any other feed with high percentage of protein will work (as long as it doesn't float).
  2. Wait at least 1 day (2 days preferred) and come back and throw out a small handful of oats in the area. Wait 5 minutes and watch the water for signs of activity.
  3. Use a 10' cast net and toss out. It takes a long time to get this down right... Practice like crazy before hand because you have to make your 1st cast count!


    To catch by pole: Boil up some spaghetti and roll it in the smallest of balls (no bigger than 3/16th of an inch in diameter). Put it on the smallest of long shank hooks...I'm thinking at least a #14 or #16...smaller if you can find em'... Use a long crappie rod (longer the better so you don't scare em'...14' foot is fine) with the smallest bobber available (no bigger than a 1/2 inch in diameter). When the bobber just barely starts to move downward...gently lift upward and toward your boat. (Do not set the hook! Just lift the rod slightly and swing into the bank/boat. The swing should land on the bank or boat). 2 guys can get 4 to 6 dozen in an hour or two if they know what they are doing.

Don't worry about the bluegill, catfish and bass that will frequent your shiner holes. There's nothing you can do about that except catch em!

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