Resources: Fishing Tips Saltwater Bait

Fishing Tips
These Fishing Tips arebrought to you in association with 
AL Lorenzetti & Skimmer Outdoors

Captain Al is an outdoor writer with OWAA, a video producer, writer, webmaster, charter captain, lecturer, Mercury Marine Pro Team Captain, Penn Fishing Tackle Representative, etc..  I have a selection of excellent instructional saltwater fishing videos available through "The Fisherman" magazine which is primarily an East Coast weekly periodical focusing on saltwater fishing.

How to store live eels | Keep an eel from tying itself in a knot | Catch your own Fresh Bait | Dirty Water | Fluke Belly Dance | Keep the catch cold | Scents Work | Best Wind/Tide Conditions | Plain Old Killie | Catch your own fresh Bait | Sea Anchor | Fluoro-Carbon | Two Chum Pots | Lures for Tuna | Single tool | Fish in the Dark? | Petri-Fish Jig | Brine the Bait | Cameras for Fishing Memories | Multifilament Lines | Hi-Lo Rig | Blues for Shark Bait | Netting Fluke | Cloudy Water | Optimax Engines | Strip Baits for Fluke | Bucktail-Jellyworm Combo | Snappers as Live Bait | Teaser Ring | Bad Scents | Fluorocarbon for Bonito


How to store live eels:
Find a five gallon plastic bucket with a locking top. Drill 7/16 holes approximately every two inches in the walls, top and bottom. Place about 3 inches of golf ball size stones in the bucket for ballast. The eels really like to wiggle in between the rocks. Tie a line to the handle and suspend the bucket from a dock or your boat. Keep it down near the bottom where the water is cool. Donít worry about feeding them. Lots of little tasty creatures will drift in through the holes and provide them with snacks. I have kept eels this way for up to two months.

 How to keep an eel from tying itself in a knot while on your hook:
Before you hook the eel, give it an attitude adjustment. Grab the eel by the head with a dry towel or piece of burlap. Smack the tail against a stationary object like a cutting board or a railing. The eel will now have a different attitude. It will not attempt to use its tender tail and tie itself into a ball on your fishing line but will still swim enticingly.

Catch your own Fresh Bait
Nothing catches fluke better than fresh live bait. It is worth the effort to catch some before fishing. Purchase a small seine net and drag it along the edge of any beach. You should be able to capture a nice selection of killies, spearing or other small offerings that fluke canít resist. A small cast net with ľ inch mesh will also work well for those a little more adventurous and it works without having to get wet.

When fishing in dirty water, (brown-tide or wind churned) fresh dead or live bait will produce better than artificials. In these conditions the fish will feed by smell rather than by sight. Natural bait produces the scent to attract the fish. If you insist on using artificials, then add a scent to them. Bunker oil is a good one to try. Chumming also will bring the fish to your offering. Anchor and chum with bunker or clam. Use fresh bait on the hook. You can catch any kind of fish that swims using this technique.

After catching your first legal size fluke, fillet the white belly side. Cut this fillet into strips about 5 inches long and tapering to a point on one end. Use these strips in combination with spearing or smaller strips on a bucktail. Fluke belly is an excellent fluke bait. Its is really tough and will last for quite a while on the hook. For added attraction, split the tapered end to create a fluttering action.

During the hot summer weather it is very important to keep your catch on ice. They will spoil in the heat and could actually get you sick if the heat damage is severe. The quality of the meat will diminish rapidly upon heating. I fill empty soda bottles with water and freeze them. They are reusable and this saves on the cost of ice. It is also very convenient. When filling them, squeeze out an ounce or two of the water to allow for expansion and cap them tightly. You can put a bunch in your cooler and add them to the container in which you keep your catch. I put two or three into the fish-box on my boat. I stopper the drain, and a couple of gallons of sea-water. The water will stay cold for several hours. Fish kept this way will be in excellent condition.

Try using "bunker oil" to add scent and flavor to the waters and to your baits and jigs. "Bunker oil" is a natural scent of the Atlantic menhaden fish. I dip my bunker chunks in the oil to add extra flavor and scent. When I chum for bluefish or sharks, I add a few drops to the water to create a better smelling slick. I put some in a small squeeze bottle with a dropper tip and add a bit to my artificial lures. I really think it makes a difference. Give it a try.

Work the tides and the current. The worst situation to have is a wind directly in-line or directly against the tide if you are drift fishing. Working with the wind will move you too fast and make it difficult to hold the bottom. Drifting against the wind will slow the boat so much that you will not cover ground. When this situation occurs, consider moving to and area where the wind will be at angles to the current. For example, if the wind is due west, it would be difficult to fish in front of Ocean Beach. You will move too fast or too slow. If you move to West Channel, the current moves north and south. With a west or east wind, your drift will be angled across the channel and you will drift at a moderate pace which is best for catching fish.

When fishing for fluke I usually add a squid strip with a live killie or spearing. I have found however that in areas where crabs are plentiful such as the sand bar areas near the Moses Bridge, the squid will attract more crabs than fluke. Consequently, I have been using just a plain live killie on the hook and if they are small, I put on two. Fluke seem to have no trouble locating that live killie. This past week also I have noticed that a plain hook with killie has caught more fish than a rig adorned with spinners, beads etc. This technique has really produced fish.

Excessively strong tides and wind can make a boat drift to rapidly for productive fishing. I find this is a problem when fishing around the full or new moon when tides are strongest. When wind and tide are running in the same direction it is really a problem. There is something that can be done to slow the drift so that the bait is presented in an enticing way. A sea-anchor is one solution to the problem. A sea-anchor is a triangular shaped bag attached to a line. It is put overboard and fills with water. It acts as a drogue and will slow the movement of the boat through the water. It is very useful when drifting in deeper water where a lot of lead weight would have to be used to hold bottom. When drifting for fluke in the ocean in 60 feet of water, the use of a sea-anchor can reduce the needed lead weight from 8 oz. To 3 oz.. Less weight will allow you to feel the bite of a fish and make for a better fight when you hook up to a good fish. In addition, a sea-anchor is also a good piece of safety equipment. If a boat loses power in rough seas, a sea-anchor can be let out off the bow. It will keep the bow of the boat pointed into the seas and prevent swamping of the boat.


When fishing artificials, try using fluoro-carbon leader material. It is almost invisible underwater. It will reduce the chance that the fish will see something that does not look natural and this is most important when fishing in very clear water.

When porgy fishing I use two chum pots. These fish are attracted to the chum and will only be caught when fishing directly behind the chum pot. Anyone fishing on the other side of the boat will hardly catch at all. By using two chum pots, one on each side of the boat, the fish will get spread across the entire area between the two pots and everyone will get in on the action. Another benefit is that when refilling the chum pots, one can remain in the water while the other is being filled. This will produce non-stop action and prevent the possibility of losing the school of fish.

If you troll for tuna on the near-shore grounds, in the area from 20 to 40 miles, make sure that you have some smaller lures in your trolling spread. Bonita, small tuna and dolphin like the smaller lures. One ounce feathers in red/white and cedar plugs are real hot. I fish them in the second and third wake behind the boat and troll at 8 knots. This combination has worked very well. I also troll a few big lures farther back and they have accounted for most of the bigger fish. However, if you donít troll the small stuff you will miss out on a lot of action.

The answer is the BOGAGRIP. This is the niftiest tool in my fishing arsenal. It is made of machined stainless steel, will not corrode and is almost indestructible. Its locking mechanism will attach easily to the jaw of any fish and will not let go until you hit the release. It has a precision built in scale for weighing fish or setting drags. It comes in two sizes; small will weigh up to 30 pounds and large that will weigh up to 60 pounds.

When drifting for striped bass at night it can be pretty tough to get back to the exact beginning of a productive drift. This is especially true if visibility is reduced by mist or fog or if the area has no convenient structures or lights nearby for taking visual ranges. Be prepared and always store the start of a drift in your LORAN or GPS. I always hit the "quick save" button when I begin a drift. If I catch fish I can get right back to the original starting point and repeat the same drift under any conditions.

The "Petri-Fish" is proving to be a very productive lure. It is an imitation flounder made of rubber with a lead head. It is comes in three sizes 8 inch, 6 inch and 3 Ĺ inch. The large size is good for big striped bass while the smaller sizes will catch smaller bass blues and weakfish and large fluke. I work the lure by jigging it just above the bottom. I had an excellent catch of school bass and weakfish using the 3 Ĺ inch version during the past week. Give this lure a try.

Whole clams threaded on a hook will catch striped bass. Many tackle shops sell shucked whole skimmer clams for bait. The problem is however, when clams are frozen and then thawed, they become soft and are easily torn off the hook. I like to thaw the clams a day before fishing and mix them with a good helping of Kosher salt. The salt will toughen the tissue considerably making it very difficult for the fish to steal your bait. The salt does not seem to reduce the attractiveness of this bait. Any leftover salted clams can be refrozen and thawed again without seriously hurting the quality. I always have a couple of boxes of Kosher salt handy for this purpose or just for making up a brine solution for rinsing fillets. Some bait and tackle shops do carry salted shucked skimmer clams

How do you keep memories of a great fishing day? With a camera of course. But now there is a new twist that I find very convenient. I purchased a digital camera, an Olympus D 400 zoom and can save all the good moments in digital form on my computer. The price of digital cameras has come way down and most people have access to a computer at work or at home. What I find most convenient is the ability to immediately see how good the picture is and delete what is not just right. It also eliminates the hassle of going to the photo lab and the results are immediate. You can then e-mail pictures to your friends and family or with a good printer and photo quality paper, produce excellent quality prints. You can also view the pictures on your TV set. If you are one that likes to capture the moment, then this is worth a look.

I use multifilament line on many of my fishing outfits. Berkley "FireLine" and Innovative Textiles "Power Pro" are my choice in this type of line. One problem that exists with such lines is being able to cut them when rigging. The cutter on a set of fishing pliers or a nail clipper will not cut them properly if at all. A sharp knife will cut them but it is dangerous to use on a rocking boat or when near others. I find that a good sharp scissors works best. Many of the available multi-purpose tool manufacturers make a model with scissors. I use the Leatherman "Micra" and "PST II" which both have scissors. They easily cut through these extremely tough lines quickly and safely. I like the "Micra" because it can be kept in my pocket and I wear the "PST II" on my belt in a leather pouch. The "PST II" also has a diamond grit hook sharpening file with groove. These tools are an indispensable part of my fishing gear. I recommend strongly that you get hold of such a tool with a scissors feature if you use multifilament lines.

When fishing in an area such as Ocean Beach that holds both fluke and weakfish, use a "hi-lo" rig. Set up a regular fluke rig but add another hook about two feet above the fluke rig. Fish killies or spearing on the fluke rig with a piece of squid or sand worm on the high-hook. The high-hook will catch weakfish and the fluke rig will catch fluke. Itís the best of both worlds.

If you are going shark fishing, make a quick stop in the inlet on your way out and troll an umbrella rig to catch small bluefish. A small bluefish rigged whole or a bluefish fillet is absolutely the best bait for Mako sharks. In the early morning the blues should be plentiful and a short stop to catch bait will be well worth the effort.

Fluke should be landed with a net. Fluke have a bony mouth and very often the hook will not penetrate or encircle a bony area but be lightly embedded in soft tissue. If you try to lift the fish into the boat, the hook will surely pull out. A net is therefore a must when trying to boat a large fish. The trick to netting a fluke is to net it headfirst. A fluke looks like a clumsy fish but is capable of a great burst of speed. If you try to net it from the tail end it will rapidly swim away from the net and probably pull the hook. To net it properly, the angler should steer the fish toward the boat allowing it to stay submerged about 1 to 2 feet below the surface. The net should be kept at ready just above the surface of the water. As the fish is pulled headfirst toward the boat the person with the net should quickly thrust it into the water and scoop the fish headfirst. Do not put the net into the water as the fish is approaching or it will see the net and dart to the side to avoid capture. When the net is in the water it produces so much drag that it cannot be moved quickly enough to catch up to the fluke. Next time you hook a big one remember, a quick scoop headfirst will put it in the boat.

When the water is murky the way it is now, I always add an extra attractant to my lures. I usually tip-off the lure with a piece of pork rind or strip of squid or fluke belly. I also split the strip from the middle to the tail to create a fluttering action. This definitely will improve your catch in cloudy water.

If you like to fish offshore you have probably had concerns at times about having enough fuel to go the distance to the fishing grounds and return with a safe margin for error. If you have outboard power on your boat then there is a solution to this problem. The answer is DFI engine technology. Direct Fuel Injection outboard engines burn considerable less fuel compared to Electronic Fuel Injection or Carburetor engines. My Mercury 225 hp OptiMaxô DFI engine burns approximately 40% less fuel at cruising speed than my previous engine. It burns 60% less fuel at trolling speeds. That translates into a considerable savings on fuel bills and also means much greater range. If you run long distances offshore and you are considering repowering your boat I would give serious thought to going with Mercury OptiMaxô power.

Fluke and searobin belly strips make great baits. If Iím fluke fishing especially in the ocean where chances are good for catching a big fish, I use a piece of fluke or searobin belly on the hook with a killie or spearing. These are very tough baits and will last quite a while before having to be changed. Even the crabs canít tear it off the hook. When you catch your first keeper fluke or searobin, fillet the belly side, slice it into strips and add it to your hook.

An excellent artificial lure is a bucktail tipped off with a jellyworm. Use a 1.5 oz. bucktail and add a 7 or 8 inch jellyworm to the hook. Run the hook through the middle of the jellyworm for about 1 Ĺ inches. Slide the jellyworm all the way up the shank of the hook and expose the point. Bounce the lure along the bottom and strike hard when a fish hits. This is a very productive lure. Give it t try.

Live snappers are an outstanding bait for big fluke. Before heading out to the ocean fluke grounds, take some time to catch a few snappers. Keep them alive in a bucket or live-well. Hook them through the hard part of the upper jaw or in the back just in front of the dorsal fin. Fish them as you would any other bait, right near the bottom. When you get a strike, give the fluke time to eat the bait. When you set the hook, do it with authority.

Try fishing the "silver-bullet" jig for big fluke in the ocean. Instead of using a sinker as a weight, I use a 3 to 5 oz. "silver-bullet" which has an attached hook and feathery adornment. I then tie a three-way swivel about 10 inches above the ball and from this swivel I attach a three foot leader with a teaser/fly hook. To the last eye on the three-way swivel I attach my fishing line. I bait both the hook on the ball and on the teaser with a spearing. With this rig you have two hooks fishing at all times. If the big fish misses one it will come back for the other. It has been very productive for me and Iím sure it will improve your catch.

Fish like certain scents and dislike others. Two scents proven to turn off the fish are insect repellent and sunblock lotions. If you are fishing and apply these to your body, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching any bait or lures.

The ocean is alive with bonito, false albacore and some spanish mackerel but it is very difficult to hook up with these fish due to their keen eyesight. Terminal tackle must be almost invisible and the presentation must be perfect. I scored well this week with these fish by using light fluorocarbon leader material. I used a 15 inch piece of 10 lb. test fluorocarbon leader tied directly to a Ĺ oz. "Crippled Herring" lure and then to a small barrel swivel. The fishing line is then tied to the barrel swivel. Carefully work the boat ahead of a feeding school and wait till they are within casting distance. If you can, throw the lure right into the feeding frenzy, let it sink for a second and then begin a rapid retrieve. Keep reeling and strike hard when you feel the bite and then hang on for a real thrill.