Pensacola Fishing Forum banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I wish to expand the variety of bait I catch for offshore fishing and live bait chumming while also reducing the time spent using sabiki rigs near the pass.

So, I like to expand my bait gathering prowess by using a cast net, but I am not sure about the specifics of catching bait fish in the Choctawhatchee (other than pinfish and sand perch/squirrel fish).

With that said, here is the information I am trying to ascertain:

  1. What baits are available? (pilchards, bull minnows, mullet, etc.)
  2. What time of year are they present (eg., pilchards in the spring - early fall)
  3. Where and when to find them? (eg., in the summer at dawn on the grass flats in Joe's Bayou)
  4. What are the best techniques for catching them? (Sight fish them then run up on them, do a hard turn and cast into the inside? Chum them in with frozen glass minnows/shrimp based chum blocks? Use the fish finder cruising around the 10' depth mark, when you mark them, cast the net and let it sink to the bottom?)

The most convenient areas for me to target bait would be anywhere from Brooks Bridge to the Pass on the southern side of the bay.

While not directly on my way out, I am also interested in the areas around Joe's Bayou or towards Shalimar Bridge.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Hmm, no responses.

I am also interested in hearing about what species, time of year, methods or any other general info about cast netting bait fish in Pensacola Bay, Perdido Bay, etc. to give me ideas for a starting point in the Choctawhatchee.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
First, you need to learn to throw a net if you don't know how you are just wasting your time. As for mullet, (depending on the size) a bait net will work, but a mullet net would be more efficient and a mullet net will catch the bigger pins, croakers, menhaden, etc. Or just get a 10-12 bait net. It sinks slower than a mullet net but it will do the job!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am working on my proficiency with the net. Like anything it is just going to take more time and practice.

I do keep my eyes open for bait when running around the bay, but I don't spend a lot of time inshore fishing. As such, I mostly see cigar minnows (near the Destin Bridge) or mullet on some of the grass flats.

I am the most interested in catching pilchards and menhaden with a cast net. I have been keeping an eye out for them, but have not yet happened on them. Any info, hints on these two baits would be appreciated.

Thank you for the feed back on the mullet net. While I don't currently have one, I will likely acquire in the near future. I have a couple spots that I have seen them and want to give it a shot sometime soon. I am curious to see how effective they are as AJ bait or for bottom fishing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Inshore is where I catch all my bait. Once I hit the pass I'm gone! If I see cigar minnows on the way out I might stop but 9 times out of 10 my throttle is down. I usually pre catch my menhaden. Sometimes menhaden are a pain in the ass to keep alive. If you have a round livewell on your boat it might be a little easier to keep them alive. Most of the time I do better when they are dead. Keep all baits you catch. Sometime you will have an ass load of pilchards and 4 pin fish and all they want is pin fish. Don't limit yourself to specific baits. Throw the net, take what you get and wet a line!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for the additional information. I will would either catch the bait first thing on the way out or pre-catch them the day before.

So, where do pilchards and menhaden congregate specifically?

Bayous? Grass flats? Sandy bottoms?

Do you have to sight fish them or do you have to mark the on the finder?

Are they in different spots in different seasons? (ex, the move to bay wrecks like pinfish in the winter.)

I went a on charter in St. Thomas and the guide went into this little tiny secluded bay that was no more than 10ft deep. We never saw the pilchards surface or in the water, but the captain was just using the depth finder and then casting the net when he marked something. Obviously, this is something he has been doing for awhile. However,if I would have wandered back in there myself I would not have specifically recognized it as a honey hole for pilchards.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
Menhaden usually congregate in bayous around Aug through Nov. Last year the menhaden were everywhere. I didn't have to go to the bayous last year to catch them. I do a lot of sight fishing for bait. The honey hole where the captain caught the pilchards is probably a honey hole for a certain time of year. You need to figure out your honey holes and the best time to catch bait because all holes are different!
 

·
Mines Bigger
Joined
·
2,647 Posts
Like he said, in the fall the big menhaden school up in the bay and are very easy to catch even if you aren't great at throwing a net. I can get enough bait/chum for a year with a couple good throws. In the summer for live bait I usually set pinfish traps or catch them on bait rigs. Any dock or structure near a grassbed will have pinfish when the weather warms up, just throw a little food in the water and they will find you most of the time. I catch my biggest pinfish on deep docks in the Destin Harbor.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Acoustifunk and Bigrick, I appreciate the help.

Any specifics on pilchards? When they show up? Where you find them?

Also, what type of cast-nettable baits are easy to find in the bay this time of year?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
I've caught pilchards from April all the way until December. I see them at boat ramps, piers, docks, bridges, bayous, tide lines, and just about anywhere else. Some days you will see them at a bridge and the next day there might be none in sight. It's hard to give a specific area due to the fact that they like to move. As for baits this time of year, I catch pins, mud minnows, and finger mullet.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I am also looking into buying a better quality cast net. The one I am practicing is a lower quality build.

With that said, I am curious as to what is the best size of mesh for baits other than larger mullet in the bay.

Ideally, I would like one that would do well with pilchards and bull minnows/finger mullet, but will work well for menhanden.


What do you think is the best size for an all-around net?

I am considering a 1/2 or 3/8 after seeing the below chart, but wanted the opinion of people on the forum given their experience.

I was also thinking about getting it in a 10 foot radius.

Bait Size Mesh Size
1" - 3" 1/4" sq. (1/2" str.) or 3/16" sq. (3/8" str.)
3" - 6" 3/8" sq. (3/4" str.)
6" - 9" 1/2" sq. (1" str.)
9" - 12" 5/8" sq. (1 1/4" str.)
12" 1" sq. (2" str.) and over
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
457 Posts
3/8 mesh is about all you need. I have about 6 different nets (7ft on up). I use my 7ft more (unless I'm doing gulf trips) because I can get into tighter spots and I can throw it longer. When I use my 12ft net, I really only want to have to throw a few times. You should have no problem catching menhaden with a 10ft net. I can catch pilchards, bull minnows, finger mullet, and pins all day with my 7ft. By a net with a lead line. Environmentally safe weights suck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I was leaning more to the 3/8 and am glad you confirmed my inclination. I am definitely going for the lead line.

Reading that you primarily use you seven foot, do you think that a 10 foot would be too much for a novice / my needs?

I don't want to go too big to the point that it will take me forever to become proficient, but also don't want to go too small so that I can't catch the bait I want or have to throw it a dozen times to catch amount I need.


Once I decide on that, I guess my next step is finding one that somebody is getting rid of one for a good price. Seems like there are a lot of high quality panel nets that come up on various online marketplaces that were never used or only used a few times. I much rather spend 50% of the retail price for something that is basically new.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top