Live bait hard to beat

April 12, 2014

Here in Texas, the best live bait available is what the fish are used to feeding on.

They will feed on several different bait fish available here, but the dominant bait species is the shad species.

Live bait anglers at the coast and striper anglers across the state know that on many days live bait is hard to beat. Catching and keeping the shad species alive is a difficult task as these bait fish are sensitive to handling, temperature and a variety of other conditions.

If they were easy to catch and keep, you would see them for sale at the bait shops.

Catching your own live bait is not impossible. Learning first to be proficient at using a cast net can be difficult and frustrating.

Keeping them alive is another task where you need to have a special tank and conditioned aerated water.

Water temperatures have risen into the low 60s, which is a turning point from winter artificial patterns to carrying live bait on board, especially for many striper anglers. This includes my boat.

Catching bait can be chore. It can also be rewarding, especially when you know you are as prepared as you can be to go after the predator species of your choice.

Generally, once you pattern the bait fish out, you can load your bait well for a good day of fishing fairly easily. There will be tough days catching bait and there will be days that it will be easy to fill your live well with the right sized bait.

Lake Granbury has an abundance of bait fish, and catching them is fairly easy once you know where they will be and when.

For those interested in being able to catch bait with a cast net, it is a good idea to practice in your yard until you get the hang of it. Take your time.

There is some online help for learning to toss a net. Do a search for “how to throw a cast net” and you can watch several videos on “You Tube.”

Some people start with a smaller net and work up, a good idea. The smaller net is easier to throw. However, smaller nets reduce your chances of catching bait.

Generally, though, you will spend less time filling your bait well with a larger net. The largest legal cast net you can use in Texas waters is one with a 7-foot radius. Learning with a 5-foot or 6-foot net and then working up does work for many folks.

Before you catch these shad or other bait fish, you will need an aerated live well of some sort to keep your bait alive. One of the most popular in this area is Grayline Bait Tanks. An inexpensive homemade tank can be made out of an old drum or trash can cut down with a lid and a floating aerator.

The more water volume the easier it is to keep them alive. Typical shad tanks run from 20 to 50 gallons.

Conservatively, many assume one large 6-to-8-inch gizzard shad for each gallon of water.


Water temperatures have been slow to rise but are around the 60-degree mark.

Sand bass and small stripers are being caught near the Shores, near Western Hills and on the lower ends near deCordova on slabs and jigs.

Black bass anglers continue to catch good fish starting to move on the beds. Crappie reports are still coming in from the area near the 377 bridge.

Squaw Creek black bass continue to be good to 8 pounds on soft plastics near main lake points and near laydowns. Channel catfish continue to be fair to good on prepared baits.

Bridgeport and Lewisville action is picking up for sand bass and hybrid stripers on slabs and rattle traps. Benbrook action continues to get better as well for sand bass and hybrids.

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Category: Sports