Big Bend cast nets

I enjoy fishing Horseshoe, Steinhatchee, Keaton, Pepperfish but have a question. I live in Tampa Bay and we often use cast nets to get our white bait (scaled sardines, threadfin, pilchards etc). This is pretty much the standard for the area to catch fish. I've never seen anyone use a cast net in the big bend area. Is there a reason for that or do I need to bring mine next time? Thanks for the input.

Replies

  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,449 Captain
    They are used for finger mullet around here. As long as you can find patches of sand or soft bottom. But most places around here where baitfish hold are hard limestone that will tear up your net.

    There are also few spots that hold bait consistently. Even the tripod markers usually only have pinfish.

    If you can get live greenies around here you could really tear up the snook and redfish not to mention offshore fish.
  • Jim311Jim311 Posts: 4,926 Captain
    As doc mentioned, the mullet hold around rock and oyster bottom, so finding bait fish to net can be sort of tough. I have shredded just about every net I've ever had and almost consider them disposable. But considering what you'd pay for bait (A single full size frozen mullet is 5 dollars at Herschels) I guess that's an acceptable loss. From time to time in the summer I have been able to find masses of white bait out in the bay that I was able to cast net or sabiki but not frequently enough to rely on it. In fact, it's a lot more rare to fish with white bait here but the guys in Tampa rely on it almost exclusively. If we need live bait, we either throw nets for finger mullet, or more frequently sabiki pins up on the grass flats, or throw the cast net for them on grass flats since it's about the only place you can not get snagged reliably. With all of that said, the most frequent inshore bait around here is cut mullet, and it works so well that it's hardly even worth keeping live baits alive. I really only use live baits when I'm targetting tarpon and cobia. If you really like live bait, my suggestion is to throw a smaller cast net, and one that's cheap, and do it in very shallow water so that when you do get snagged you can easily retrieve it. Either that, or focus your efforts on gathering pinfish instead. This time of year pins can be scarce, though. Two weeks ago the creeks were loaded with finger mullet though.
  • navigator2navigator2 Posts: 22,444 AG
    I've caught threadfins before with a heavy 10 foot cast net before. They need to be thick though, they are fast. Careful when culling out leatherbacks though. (we call them horn bellies) :banghead
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • Luv2YakLuv2Yak Posts: 944 Officer
    In the areas you mentioned there are lots of places that are hazardous to cast nets: oysters, rocks, etc. That said, and contrary to some of the other replies here, I cast net mud minnows and finger mullet in the backwater marshes and creeks all the time. When finger mullet get scarce mud minnows can still be found.

    Mud minnows don't migrate - they're along the shorelines, in the creeks, etc. year-round. They are VERY hardy, easy to keep alive. They survive on the hook better and longer than finger mullet or pinfish.

    For inshore saltwater fishing in the Big Bend mud minnows are great live bait for reds and trout. Flounder will also pounce on a mud minnow.
  • butchbalbutchbal Posts: 448 Deckhand
    I have had good success netting whitebait using an 8' to 10' 3/8" bait net. The key is chumming them up. I use a mixture of Purina tropical fish flakes, canned jack mackerel and menhaden oil mixed to a heavy paste in bucket. The Purina can be purchased at most feed stores in 40# bags. Make sure you buy flakes, not pellets. I'm still working on the bag I bought in 2013.

    I usually go to to 3' depths over a grass bottom west of South Point, anchor and start pitching golf ball size balls of chum. It may take 10 or 15 minutes but if the threadfins are around they will show up along with balao and pins. Late spring thru summer I have never had to much trouble getting enough with a few good throws. Big threadfins and balao are my goto kingfish baits when I'm not trolling for them. If you drop a 6" threadfin on any homosassa rock pile no self respecting grouper will turn it down. I learned to net white bait when I spent my time fishing in tampa bay and points south. When I moved to Homosassa I was surprised that I rarely saw people cast netting in the shallows. I guess it's all what your used to.
  • Scott CrownScott Crown Posts: 661 Officer
    jzgator wrote: »
    I enjoy fishing Horseshoe, Steinhatchee, Keaton, Pepperfish but have a question. I live in Tampa Bay and we often use cast nets to get our white bait (scaled sardines, threadfin, pilchards etc). This is pretty much the standard for the area to catch fish. I've never seen anyone use a cast net in the big bend area. Is there a reason for that or do I need to bring mine next time? Thanks for the input.

    Chum heavy over 3 foot grass flats. You can net all the pinfish you want. I have had some success netting white bait around the channel markers. I rarely throw a net due to I fish artificial baits. Our fish are not as educated as Tampa fish.
  • KeatonBchFisherKeatonBchFisher Posts: 297 Officer
    I will step in and say I fish shrimp more than anything on live bait. I have always had better luck on live shrimp than cut mullet, but they do get abused by small fish. You can get them and put them on ice for hours as long as they can breath.
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  • jzgatorjzgator Posts: 14 Greenhorn
    Thanks for all the feedback! I forgot about all of the oyster bars/limerock etc. in those areas. Sounds like cast nets aren't as common the further North you go. I'm going to give it a shot when we head up the first week of April
  • DucksterDuckster Posts: 548 Officer
    You might want to throw an aluminum prop on your boat for I fish south of big bend in WC out the cotee river. Fishing Anclote island or Tarpon springs North to Aripeka it is the beginning of the limerock shelf with lots of rocks natural hardbottom and oyster bars. Running aground in 2 ft of water in big bend could rip your lower unit off. It may look like grass but is really hard lime rock bottom
  • Jim311Jim311 Posts: 4,926 Captain
    There are indeed major rocks in Hudson. I actually find it a more scary to run there than Waccasassa. There are rocks in what looks like sand flats, and big outcroppings of rock in otherwise deep water out there. Scary, especially if you aren't that familiar with the area.
  • DucksterDuckster Posts: 548 Officer
    I like the rocks as it a good deterrent to keep most jetskis and non fisherman and the like away from your favorite fishing hole
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