When it comes to bait, you have as many choices as there are species of fish – if not more. Live bait is a great option, but if you don’t have access to live options, you can always use cut bait. As effective as it is inexpensive, cut bait is a great option for catching many different types of fish – both fresh and saltwater species. The key is knowing how and when to use it.
When to Use Cut Bait
Whether or not you should use cut bait depends on the type of fish you’re after. Alligator gar and catfish love cut bait. It’s also a good choice for more elusive fish, like bowfin, though they generally take longer to catch. Even saltwater fish, like black drum, redfin, tarpon and snook love the smell of fresh chunks of mullet or ladyfish.
How to Cut Up Bait Fish
Cutting bait is more difficult than you might think. If you don’t cut it correctly, you may waste a lot of your fish. You can cut your baitfish in several different ways, depending on the size of the fish you’re trying to catch. The following are some general guidelines to help you determine the best way to cut your bait.
If you’re using smaller fish, such as pinfish, you can either use them whole, or cut them in two. If you use the whole fish, use your knife to slit the belly. This will give the fish a stronger smell, which will entice more fish to bite. If you cut the fish in half, cut the tail off to help it to move more smoothly and stop it from spinning when it’s in the water.
If you’re working with larger baitfish, like ladyfish or mullet, cut them into thirds. Put the hook into the head through the lips, then pull it back through the part where the tail has been cut off. If you want to make it more appealing, leave some stomach contents in the chunk – just make sure you put the hook through the side with the stomach.
Storing Bait Fish
It’s important that your cut bait smells fresh and feels firm. Check the fish over to make sure it has red gills and clear eyes. If you plan to freeze your bait, store it in a vacuum-packed bag to keep it from getting freezer burnt. Then, when you’re ready to use it, keep it on ice in a dry cooler.