Livebaiting For Bass – Is Easy Once You Know How.
As with most fishing techniques, livebaiting for bass sounds complicated to the average angler, but truth be known its no more difficult than trolling a plug behind your kayak, or casting your plugs whilst on the drift.
Whats more livebaits are said to be a great way to target the bigger fish.
To sucessfully utilise this method you will need to catch some livebait, keep it alive, and present it in a natural manner so that any passing bass cant fail to fall for the trap.
How To Catch Livebaits.
Catching livebaits is really quite simple. By far the best method I have found is to jig “sabiki rigs” over inshore sandy areas or areas you know to hold small fish such as sandeel (or launce), small pollack, wrasse, coalies and pouting. Small pollack etc can usually be located on the ground edges where soft meets hard ground. Also dont overlook small species such as dabs. In an email exchange with Mike Ladle he once told me not to get hung up on species but to utilise what is available locally as this is what the bass will be feeding on.
The sabiki rig is great for targeting these small species and your sucess rate will be high in comparison to using other rigs with larger hooks such as hokeyes. Simpy jig the rig up and down and if there are any micros species in the area they will be falling over themselves to get on your hooks. If you find the sandeels or fish to be a little thin on the ground, then a good tip is to drop your sabikis to the bottem, nock your reel out of gear and then paddle off untill most of the line is off your reel. Then click the reel into gear and start to wind the sabikis in, using a jigging/spinning style. Using this method helps you cover more ground and catch rates should improve.
Keeping Your Livebaits alive.
Once you have your livebait you need to keep it alive and healthy. Dieing unlively bait will not be natural in the water and bass being a clever species will smell a rat instantly, so you must keep your livebait in top top condition. One option is a simple bucket (You can use an air pump if you like). Frequent water changes are required. If you wish to keep your bait in prime condition then I would advise changing the water every 5-10 minutes to keep it alive. A second easier option is to use a trolling bucket.
The Flambeau Flote-Rite Trolling Bait Bucket is the ideal solution for keeping your livebaits in tip top condition.
Stabilising keel design keeps bucket upright no matter how it hits the water. Flow-through holes keep bait alive longer. Mounting holes provided for attaching a battery-operated aeration pump. Easy opening door for one hand operation.
Simply attach the bait bucket to your kayak with a short piece of cord. The weighted design means the bucket lays on its side in the water allowing fresh sea water to continually flow through the bucket. The only problem we have found is that the bucket cuts your paddling speed in half, However our tests have found that you can take the bucket out of the water for paddles of upto 30 minutes and the bait stays fit and healthy.
Presenting Your Livebait.
There are 2 main ways for presenting your livebait : either below a cigar type float or you can just freeline them, a method I found to be extremely sucessful on my first ever attempt.
Freelining Livebaits For Bass
The method of freeling a sandeel for bass is so simple you really wont believe it can work. Attach a swivel to your mainline and then attach a 4-5 foot hook snood to the swivel. Hook your livebait through the lips and drop the whole lot in the water.
Allow the sandeel to swim down about half the depth of the water you are fishing and then drift along holding the rod. Make sure you have the drag set correctly and hold on tight as the first hit of a bass on livebaits will be like nothing you have experience before. In areas of strong tide it is possible to anchor at the uptide end of the tide run and then let your freelined bait trot downtide. I have caught several decent bass using this method but you must be aware that the further the livebait gets away from the kayak, the more chance you have of loosing any fish you hook.
Another good tip is to consider the use of small 1/4 ounce barrel leads just above your swivel. This will help keep your livebait down in areas of very strong tide flow.
Float Fishing For Bass
Again the method is quite simple. Just set up a sliding float rig and hang your livebait on the hook. Make sure that your float is big enough not to be pulled under by your livebait.
Aim to fish mid water in depths of around 20 foot. If you get a lot of missed bites I have found that bringing the bait up to about 1 foot under the float can bring instant sucess. Another tip can be to leave the reel out of gear with the bail arm off. This allows the fish to take the bait without feeling any resistance from the rod which is known to spook the fish. All the float to go under, count to 4 and then strike. This should allow sufficient time to allow the fish to take the bait and for the hook to become set.
If you would like more information on freelining for bass, or any other kayak fishing related topic then please head over to our fishing forum at : http://www.whitbyseaanglers.co.uk/forum/index.php
Pictures By Glenn Kilpatrick And Simon Everett.