Live bait for bass. Try live bait for Florida bass. 

Live Bait for Bass
Use Mother Nature's Brand Wild Shiners & Shad
by Captain Jerry Sloan

Looking for the hottest big fish technique in bass fishing?

Nice bass on a live shinerGet on board with the bait Mother Nature provided. Wild shiners or shad are the most productive and easiest  way of catching bigger and better bass. There are several steps in making this work for you.

Handle Bait Properly

Handling live bait can be very important. Water temperature should make slow changes, if any, from the time shiners are placed in live well, until they reach destination to be fished. Plenty of oxygen must be provided also. Bass rarely hit bait that can't run away from them.

Fishing and Terminal Tackle

Match the size of your live bait to fishing tackle.Using proper tackle to match bait size can increase number of hits. For example, if the bait is three inches long, stay with 3 ought or less on your hook size. For shiners 8 to 10 inches long, use 5 and 6 ought hooks. Use weed guards only when necessary in heavy cover. Seven foot heavy action rods with 20 to 30 lb. big game lines are great for winter fishing. Summer tactics change a great deal. Down-sizing in bait and tackle will give you an edge over most anglers.

Hooking a Live Bait

Shiners and shad live longer if hooked through front lips or bottom lip through nostril. Care must be taken not to break the neck of the bait. This technique makes the shiner swim in a downward motion, and works great for trolling. Hooking in the dorsal fin will make the bait swim up and away from the line or bobber, thus creating more action, but the bait will wear down much quicker and die sooner, so wait until you are anchored to try this technique. Anal fin hooking close to back bone, but taking care not to touch spine, will make bait swim down and away. Shiners can actually be steered under vegetation to exact points where you want to be.

Bait Presentation

When casting live bait, remember the object is to get them to the fish in perfect condition. Underhand pitching or side arm casting prevent hard impact with the water, thus helps to keep all the scales intact. Scales that are knocked off leave white spots on your bait that can be seen under water as well as makes your bait weak. Take the time to hit your target the first time without repeated casts. Just remember you are not fishing with artificial bait, so let the shiner sit and do his job.

Balloons and Bobbers

Keep them small, only large enough to keep up with, where, and what is happening on the other end of the line. Three to four foot depth in most lakes allow for free movement. As far as bobbers or balloons, I personally like the camouflage colors, so as not to distract the fish.

Free line works great in running water or for trolling. It also works better in deep water or high skies days when fish do not want to come up. Carolina rigging in running water will normally blow your mind, it requires constant contact with weight in order to distinguish hits. Depending on the water speed, 1 ½ oz. weight with 3' to 4' leaders.


Check your wind! If you know where the fish are, be sure to set the boat up properly first time around in order not to spook them. Have adequate rope and heavy enough anchors to hold fast. Lock boat in front and rear with anchors to prevent shifting.

Setting the Hook

Another fine bass caught on live bait.Most people and guides tend to lean toward super hard hook sets, the how is much more important than the hard. Women in the boat tend to prove this fact more often. Strength is good but skill is better. Remember nylon stretches, so retrieve all slack smoothly until you have made contact with fish with rod tip down make an over head hook set surprising your catch, while maintaining pressure with bent rod all the way in will keep hook firmly in place. Thirty-five years experience says from the time the bobber goes down till the time to set the hook should be no more than 30 seconds, unless you want him to swallow hook resulting in gut hook.

We have won or been in the top three places of live bait tournaments for several years and guided many bass trips with a very low mortality rate, so set the hook early and save the fish. Should you hook deep cut the line and release the fish quickly.
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You can contact Capt. Jerry Sloan at:

Tom & Jerry's Pro Guide Service 
E-mail: [email protected]
Web Site:
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