Here in the Florida Keys a live well full of frisky baits is the key to catching fish. But knowing how and when to hook the baits, can make live baits swim the way you want.The main live baits we use are Ballyhoo, Pilchards, Cigar Minnows, Speedos, Goggle-eyes and Blue Runners. Here are some of the ways we hook baits when fishing in Islamorada.
Nostrial hooking the bait keeps the bait at the surface, such as when we are slow trolling or drifting offshore,around bait schools, When nostril-hooked, the bait swims at or near the surface, keeping pace with the boat’s drift or slow-troll. The baits remain lively, with less results of drowning.The small baits that we use like Pilchards, we simply run the hook through the nostrils. On the bigger baits, bridling the bait through the nostrils keeps the hook fully exposed, so the bait does not get fouled up in the hookup.
This is the main technique we use on our offshore and deep sea charters with light-tackle spinning gear.
An alternative to nostril hooking is to jaw-hook it. Just set the hook under the lower jaw and out the top jaw. Or, with a large bait, run the hook up and out the upper jaw only. Sometimes this provides a better hookup percentage with circle hooks versus a nostril rig.
Hooking a bait in front of its dorsal is how we rig the baits for kite-fishing, it generates action, and the placement gets a lot of the short-striking bites like Kingfish. Hooking in front of the dorsal fin forces a bait to swim head-down and swim frantically. The swimming look is like a deep-diving Rapala . Plus, the degree of digging can be fine-tuned by precise hook placements: For the most angle/digging, place the hook right in front of the dorsal fin; for a more level attitude, place the hook more forward of the dorsal fin. We suggest bridling for pelagic s but not necessarily with smaller baits fished on the bottom.
Throat hooking forces our baits to dive deeper, which is good when anchored up for mid-level fish. We will also anal hook baits if we want them to dive deeper.Great when anchored up in a sand patch outside of a rock pile and we want to keep that bait on the bottom. Pinfish are great for this when Grouper fishing in the Florida Keys
When anchored for offshore charters and trying to bottom fish we use a sinker behind a leader ranging from 5 to 40 feet long, the sinker rests on the bottom while the bait swims just off the sand with the freedom of the long leader. A bait hooked near its anal fin can be manipulated into a specific area. It’s also a great way to make baits swim away from our boat,
So without forward momentum, the bait can’t breathe; it get nervous and swims forward fast, enabling the bait to run it farther away. This is great to use when our deep sea charters have us Mahi fishing.