Live baiting – also known as live bait fishing in Fort Lauderdale can be one of the most exciting methods to target game fish. Different seasons have new schools of migratory fish moving through South Florida and using live bait greatly increases the chances of having a very successful day charter fishing. Sea conditions and time of the year will determine which style of live baiting will have the most success.
Live Baiting Bullet Bonita
We have many favorite baits that we use, but the favorite bait, is the bullet bonita. Every predator fish under the sun loves them. Ranging from sailfish, wahoo, mahi mahi, king mackerel, barracuda, tuna, amberjack, groupers and sharks. Fishing bullets from the outriggers we use light wire with a treble hook. Wire is a good choice because of how many fish with teeth will feed on bullets and without wire the fish will bite through the line. First, we catch them in shallower water anywhere from 75′ to 100′ of water and they will school up over and around any structure. We’ll send them back out with the stinger wire rig in a good area over a drop off with current and structure. Because of their shape and how fast they swim, a great bait to slow troll into the current and out to deeper water.
Live Baiting Ballyhoo
Live baiting ballyhoo is another favorite method. These bait fish live up and down the Florida coast and we catch them using a chum bag, rod and reel or a cast net. Conditions are very important when deciding to fish ballyhoos. The best conditions are light and variable winds with calm seas and no sea weed. This style of fishing works throughout the entire year and we’ll catch sailfish, mahi, tuna, bonita among many other species. We put a spread of ballyhoo out over the reef, drop off or productive area and slowly troll them. This style of fishing works great for targeting sailfish. When they are migrating through the area presenting a live ballyhoo is irresistible to a sailfish. The ballyhoo will start swimming away from the predator and jumping out of the water just before we’ll see the bill or dorsal of the sailfish pop out of the water before they feed.
Using live ballyhoo also works great when offshore mahi mahi fishing. Running the boat until we find the birds, floating debris or a weed patch, stop the boat and cast the live ballyhoo and almost instantly getting bites. We also use live ballyhoo on wrecks and is very productive in targeting snappers.
Live Baiting Goggle Eyes
Goggle eyes (also known as bigeye scad, or gogs for short) are excellent baits to use when kite fishing off Fort Lauderdale. When the wind is blowing, we will fish two kites and position the boat with the bow facing into the wind, the kites kicked off the right and left with the baits suspended below the kite at the water line. Sewing or bridling the baits allows the hook to be fully exposed increasing the hook up ratio. Best when the gogs are splashing and swimming close to the surface making noise. Adding a flat line or outrigger bait free swimming with another bottom bait is a great kite fishing spread.
Live Bait Blue Runners and Speedo
We catch these baits at the main head pin sea buoy located at the entrance of Port Everglades. Runners and speedos are great baits for fishing on sunken ship wrecks and these depths range from 100′ out to 300′ of water. We use a mono rig with a circle hook bridled to the bait with a two-pound led. Positioning the boat up-current of the wreck the mate will send the bait to the bottom and reel the bait up off the wreck whereas not snagging the structure. We are targeting grouper and amberjack using the runners and speedos. Groupers are strong fighting fish and when in season are excellent eating fish. Amberjacks are also strong fighting fish and can weigh up to and over 75 pounds. These fish will migrate up and down the coast line and congregate in and around structure. Speedos will also make excellent baits when fished over the reef. Wahoo, king mackerel and sailfish all love feeding on a live speedo. A light wire rig is the safest tackle to use and will increase the chance of landing a nice one with teeth.
Whichever style of live baiting is used, all of them are effective methods and all of them are proven for success.