Monday, September 27, 2010

Catching Live Bait

As the water temperatures cool lots of things are going to start happening here in the Keys.  The first thing is that lots of different kinds of bait fish will move down here to get out of the cold water.  Scaled sardines (we call them pilchards), thread fin herring, and ballyhoo will come down to the Keys in large numbers for their winter vacation.  The schools of bait are so large that artificial lures have a tough time competing with the natural baits that are so abundant.  So to really have a kick butt fishing trip you need the livies.

Every year I have a post were I try to beat it into the tourista's heads the need for and how to catch live bait.  This year I am going to hammer home the need for and how to throw a real castnet.

First thing, what is a real castnet?  A real castnet is an 8 foot or larger radius net.  In case y'all don't know what a radius is, it is the distance from the lead line of the net to the center or horn of the net.  So an eight foot net has a diameter of 16 feet.  I personally throw a ten foot net and most charter captains throw a 12 foot net.  The reason I throw a smaller ten foot net is because I fish all kinds of boats, most of which are smaller and generally overloaded with crap limiting the room I have to throw.  Most charter captains throw a 12 foot net because they are fishing their own boat and they are real anal about telling you to keep your crap out of their way so they have plenty of room to throw the larger net.

I also throw a cheap net because many of the boats I fish have net rippers like backing out rub rail screws, cracked fiberglass and other stuff that will rip a hole in my net.  Most charter captains throw high dollar nets because they have made sure their boat does not have net rippers.

The biggest difference between the cheap net and the high dollar net is the mesh of the net.  The cheap net's mesh is stiffer and has a lot of memory.  The high dollar net mesh is silky smooth and has very little memory.  Just look at the price difference between the top of the line monofilament and the bottom of the barrel Walmart brand.

Learning to throw a net is a lot like learning to ride a bike.  The first time or two you try you will freak out and do something stupid and everybody watching will get a nice chuckle at your expense.  Well man up!  Did you quit trying to ride a bike because Jennifer across the street laughed and called you a spaz when you crashed into the rose bushes?  No you took a Mercurochrome bath and practiced in the backyard until you could proudly ride down the street and flip Jenny, the ninny off. ( deja vu all over again. Maybe I should have picked another comparison.)

Anyway, there are several ways to load and throw a net.  I use the dry load method because I hate getting wet the first thing in the morning and freezing my butt off running to the fishing spot.  Since I am too cheap to by a video camera I am sticking a video link to another captain showing how to throw a cast net with the dry load method.  Pay attention to how he coils the line and the net in the outside to inside roll.  Also note that he uses the net's momentum to make the throw not only easy but look easy.  You not only want to catch bait you also want to look cool doing it just in case Jenny shows up in her boat with her new race car driver boy friend.

Here is the link to the video.

Now go into the backyard and practice.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

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