What is the ideal way to hook live bait fish, shrimp and fiddler crabs when fishing from shores and piers?Dear Captain"What is the ideal way to hook live bait fish, shrimp and fiddler crabs when fishing from shores and piers?"
When I am fishing for snook and trout, I like to hook my shrimp up at the head area through the horn, making sure that it is above or behind the black spot which is the shrimp's brain. I also use a light wire hook with a needle point for a few reasons:
- The hook is easier to penetrate the hard part of the shrimp
- The shrimp will be able to swim more naturally
- The light wire hook will also penetrate the fishes mouth easier
Snook are suckers for a quick fast moving lively bait and that is why I use that hooking method. I let the shrimp do most of the work.
When I am fishing for redfish, I like to hook my shrimp through the last joint which is just before the tail. Here I like using a 1/8th size jig-head. It allows me to cast further but work the bait slowly along the bottom where most of the redfish are feeding. When I am working the shrimp jig-head I sometimes break the tail off for scent. I use the tail to chum with.
When I am fishing for sheepshead I thread the hook from the tail, all the way up through the body, following the natural body contour and out the underside of the head. I sometimes do the same with a 1/8th oz jig-head. As with redfish at times I will break the tail off of the shrimp and chum with it.
The only difference is with sheepshead, I use a cutting point hook. The cutting point hook will penetrate the sheepshead's hard mouth easier. There are times that I will take the shell off the shrimp and then thread it. This prevents the sheepshead from taking the shrimp off so easy. In addition, I use the hard-core fishing line from Tuf-Line. If you don't use Tuf-Line, see the end of this article.
There are times when I Texas-rig my shrimp to be weedless, when there is heavy grass or I need to bring it over shallow oyster bars or rocks.
The most important thing is to experiment hooking the shrimp in different areas and see what works the best. It will change at times depending on the structure and conditions your fishing.
Here are two photos of shrimp with good hook placement:
Now Fiddler Crabs:
Fiddler crabs are great bait for all fish, especially Redfish, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Pompano and many others. Below is how you will hook them. You can use anything from #2 to about 2/0 sized hook. Circle or J-Hook is fine. I do like to use a hook that has a cutting point over a needle point. The cutting point seems to penetrate the fiddler crab better without cracking its shell too much.
Since fiddler crabs are small, you want to make sure the hook size is not too large. A great way to expand the overall look and size of the fiddler crab is to put it on a jig-head. You can use different sized weighted jig-heads depending on the tide you are fishing and the depth of the water. Otherwise, I would use a fish-finder rig for fishing in water that is deeper than six feet and for anything less, just a free-lined fiddler crab with a split shot crimped about a foot or more up on my leader. It is very important to break off one of the claws, top or bottom. If you don't, the fiddler crab -- even though small -- will grab the leader with his claw and pinch it, tangle it and damage it. You can use the piece of claw you broke off as chum.
Overall most anglers like to hook their greenbacks, scaled sardines, pinfish etc., through the nostril from side to side. This presents the bait most naturally to the game fish. That being said I like to personally hook my baits a little bit differently. Which I will be teaching in the future at our seminars in March and April at all the Super Walmarts. At the seminars we will giving away a lot of free rods, reels, kayaks and more. A little preview of some tips: If you are fishing with someone else on your boat, you should both have your baits hooked differently until you figure out which method is the most effective.
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