How To Catch Live Bait for Saltwater Fishing: The Best Techniques

Fishing is one of the most popular recreational sports, and it's continually growing in popularity. Whether you fish for sport or for food, there are a few things you should know about catching live bait.

This article will teach you how to catch live bait for saltwater fishing; the best techniques that will work every time, and what equipment you need to get started. You’ll also learn how to set up your fishing line and basic knots to make sure your line doesn’t break when you’re out on the water.

How Do You Catch Bait Fish?

There are two popular approaches to catching live bait for saltwater fishing.

The first is the most common: you throw your line out into the water and wait for a fish to swallow it whole. The second method involves setting up a trap so the fish swims in and gets caught in a net.

Using a Cast Net

If you decide to use a cast net, there are several things you need to know.

First, make sure the water is at least two feet deep. If it’s any less, your catch might swim too far away for you to reach or be caught by another fisherman.

Second, throw the net with enough force so that it lands in the water and sinks to the bottom. If your net floats, it won’t catch anything.

Third, use a swinging motion when you throw so that you get a big enough radius to cover where you think there might be fish.

Fourth, never leave your net unattended; someone else might steal it or cast their own net in your area and ruin your chances of catching something.

Setting up Live Bait Traps

There are lots of different types of live bait traps you can choose from if you’re going for this approach. The best one is made out of metal because it’s durable and will last for several uses before breaking down. You also want to make sure that there’s no animal that can get out of the trap.

Choosing the location for your live bait trap is important because that will determine what you catch. If you’re fishing in a brackish or saltwater body of water, then use an open-top trap with no lid, but if it’s fresh water, put on a lid to make sure nothing gets out when you aren’t around to watch it. Make sure there are holes near the top for oxygen to enter the cage.

Equipment Needed to Catch Live Bait

If you’re just getting started with your bait fishing adventure, don’t worry; you won’t need much in the way of gear. Here’s a list of what you should have when you go out:

  • A container for carrying your fish (if you can’t get rid of them right away)
  • A couple of cast nets
  • Live bait traps with lids
  • A cooler for keeping the live bait  fresh until you have a chance to eat it or throw it back into the water

Setting up Fishing Line?

When you’re using your new equipment, don’t forget about setting up your line. Here’s an easy way to tie a knot so that your bait doesn’t end up on the bottom of the ocean.

First, take some monofilament line and make a loose overhand knot near the end. Then feed one end through the eye on the hook and pull it tight against the knot before cutting off any excess string.

Second, hold on to the eye and tie another overhand knot near the end of your line. Feed it through the loop in your cast net, then loop it around a couple of times before tying an over-under knot.

Lastly, tie a third overhand knot at least half an inch from where your last knot ends and feed it through the hole near the top of your live bait trap. Loop your string around a few times before finishing with a square knot.

How Do I Handle My Own Live Bait Without Hurting It?

Once you catch your live bait, don’t forget to treat it with care so that it stays healthy. Before you put them in either your container or live trap, make sure they are wet because if their scales dry out they can die of heatstroke.

Don’t allow the temperature of the water to change too quickly because this might also kill them. If you’re keeping your catch alive for any significant amount of time, feed them something like shrimp pellets or worms once every few hours to keep up their strength and energy levels.

Types of Best Bait Fish to Use

Small Blue Crabs

Small crabs can be used as live bait for many types of fish, and it’s important that they remain alive when you catch them. One approach is to go to a creek or shoreline and set up a cast net so that the boot doesn’t get away from you when you throw it into the water. When you get your net in place, pull it tight, then slowly drag your net along the bottom of the body of water until you find some crabs.

Mud Minnows

These are an excellent choice for catching saltwater fish of all types. They are easy to find, especially in the morning when they tend to come out of the mud and onto the shoreline to feed on crustaceans. Once you’ve found your prey, just drop a small container right next to them so that they can’t escape their fate as live bait for your big catch.

Small Hermit Crabs

Different species of crabs will work for live bait including blue crabs, fiddler crabs, and even hermit crabs. Hermit crabs may not sound like interesting prey until you see how fish react when they see one; they’ll often go nuts trying to eat it so it’s perfect if you want some action on the line.

Fiddler Crabs

Fiddler crabs are excellent choices for baitfish because they’re common, easy to catch, and small enough that you can put more than one on your line at the same time. Look for fiddler crabs near ditches or shorelines where there is vegetation growing in the water since this is their typical habitat.

Small Crawfish

Any type of crayfish makes great live bait so don’t be afraid to experiment with different types until you find out what works best for your fishing trip. Whether you want to use red swamp crayfish or another species, just remember that it’s always better to have too many than not enough when it comes down to catching some big game fish.

Cigar Minnows

Cigar minnows are a type of herring that is perfect for catching larger saltwater fish. Larger minnows make great bait, but you should avoid using baby ones because they aren’t likely to attract as much attention from the local marine life.

Soft Shell Crabs

Large saltwater fish love to eat soft shell crabs so if you can find a few of these tasty crustaceans, they’ll likely do the trick. Just like with minnows and fiddler crabs, you should try putting as many as possible on your line at once since they’re such an attractive target for large game fish.

Sand Crabs

Although they’re small, sand crabs are an excellent live bait choice because their bright red color makes them very visible to fish. Use the same rig that you would for catching minnows, but keep in mind that these little crustaceans are much harder to catch than other types of baitfish.

What Size of Bait Do I Need?

If you want to use crabs as live bait, the general rule of thumb is that larger ones work best for catching large fish while smaller crabs are better for attracting small game. If your goal is to catch every type of fish in the area, then it’s best to vary the size of your baitfish since certain species prefer prey that’s either too big or too small.

Keeping Live Bait Alive

A good trick for keeping your live bait alive is to attach them with a rubber band or thread that’s strong enough to keep them on the hook yet flexible enough not to cut into their flesh. To increase your chances of catching anything, it’s best to set out as many lines as possible since you can never be sure what will come along and strike at your bait.

Some people recommend adding ice or coolers filled with water so that the crabs stay cool and fresh, but this isn’t really necessary if you use the right size rubber band so it’s probably better just to put out more bait than less. Avoid keeping live bait in direct sunlight, especially during hot summer days when mercury levels can rise dangerously high; an iced-down cooler is the best place to store your bait as long as it’s located in a shady area so that they don’t die from the heat before you can use them.

What is Sabiki Rigs?

Sabiki rigs are a type of live bait rig that is commonly used in saltwater fishing because it allows you to catch multiple species at once. These rigs consist of a few small hooks attached to a piece of line, and they work best when you add frozen shrimp or small fish bits as bait because this is what the majority of local prey will be attracted to.

How to Use Sabiki Rigs?

The easy way to use sabiki is simply to attach them to your main line and drop them into the water while you’re waiting for something to bite. If your goal is to catch a lot of different kinds of small fish very quickly, then using sabikis makes much more sense than trying out lots of different baits because they’re so versatile.

Where Do I Look for Saltwater Live Bait?

The best places to find saltwater live bait are where they’re most likely to be found during the time of day when you’ll be doing your fishing. For example, crabs and sand fleas tend to come out of their hiding places around dusk while minnows and other small fish prefer the cover of darkness since their predators won’t see them coming.

When To Use Saltwater Live Bait?

The best time to use live bait is during the day since this is when most saltwater fish are active. Although night fishing can be productive, it’s much easier to locate and catch your prey if you do it during daylight hours so that you don’t have to rely on a flashlight or other artificial light source.

If you have a great rig and the right bait for saltwater fishing, then there’s nothing left to do but lower your line into the water and wait for a fish to strike. Be patient, however, because it may take a while for something to swallow your live bait so don’t get discouraged if you don’t catch anything at first.

Live bait fishing can be hard work since you’re basically putting out as much food as possible in hopes that one of the local fish will bite, but by using sabiki rigs or trying other types of rigs that allow multiple uses, then this type of angling is both more productive and easier than many people think.

Who Likes Saltwater Live Bait?

Saltwater live bait works well for catching just about every type of predator in the sea including sharks, tuna, mackerel, barracuda, and others. Some people prefer using dead bait instead because it tastes better and won’t wriggle away as easily as living creatures; however, you should remember that much larger fish only attack moving prey and will ignore dead bait that hasn’t been attacked by other predators first.

Final Thoughts on How To Catch Live Bait for Saltwater Fishing

Now that you’ve read the best techniques, guides, and tips about how to catch live bait for saltwater fishing, then you should have a better idea as to what it takes to do this type of angling successfully.

Although livebait fishing can be expensive, it will save you money in the long term if you purchase one or two sabiki and simply switch out the baits every so often instead of buying new lures each time you want to go fishing.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch anything on your first day since saltwater fish always seem to disappear when they’re not in season; just try again later when the conditions are right and hopefully the fish will cooperate this time. Good luck!