Whats the deal with Pinfish?

I can catch a castnet full of pinfish each time I head out of Matheson. What's the forum's opinion on pinfish as bait? Are pinfish popular only with select species? Read online that if there is an abundance of other bait, I guess better bait, the fish will pass it right by. The kind of been my experience with them. Throw a nice live one down on a bigger rod, forget about, and after fishing that spot pull it back up to find a perfectly healthy pinfish. I have on a occasion caught big Grey snapper that way. Maybe they are hooked wrong or on the wrong rig. I would love to hear what others think of pinfish as a bait, and maybe a suggestion or two on how to better use them to catch fish. Thanks in advance for all insite, advise, and opinions.


  • dtobiasdtobias Posts: 733 Officer
    I grew up using pinfish in Tampa bay and Charlotte harbour. You may want to try clipping the dorsal spines- it will give the bait a wounded action and make it easier to swallow for some species that may have passed it by. Good luck.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,665 Captain
    good bottom bait. if presented correctly, snappers and groupers will eat them. i also clip the dorsal spine.

    capt bouncer smith tells the story of a charter that was going awry all day long. they caught no sails using all sorts of bait. the customer had been pining to use the pin fish on the kite and Bouncer told him it would never work. at the end of the charter, the customer asked again and Bouncer agreed bc he had produced no sails. they hooked a sail with the pin fish.

  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,194 Captain
    Pins are great baits... every way you can think of to use them.... Yes, they're a standard bottom bait and will work everywhere from a creek mouth to a wreck in 2 or 300 feet of water. Another way to fish them is under a cork or balloon.... Little pins for snook and reds, larger (the size of your palm or better} for tarpon. Pins also make great cut bait (cut in half on the diagonal, or steaked up for snappers, or butterflied, backbone removed and the head with attached filets is a great single bottom bait).

    Now for the only trick I know about pins... the hotter the weather - the better they work. I tend to use them in summer and the warmer months inshore. Offshore it's a prime livie for dropping on wrecks. The other use offshore is just under a balloon with a rod left in the rodholder and forgotten until it bends with a fish on.... Hope this helps
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Nat1976Nat1976 Posts: 497 Officer
    Wow, this is great help. Hotter the weather, better they work. Is that because the cooler months have better bait around, white bait, mullet, shrimp? Or are fish just more energetic and apt to go after the prickly pinfish when the water warms. Im really interested in figuring out how to present these baits the right way. I know thats what's wrong half the time because I've watched the darn fish swim right over and by the bait and hardly give it a second look. Also, I'm learning, there is more to cut bait, then just cutting it and throwing it on a hook. As far as live bait, I have often wondered what predatory fish think when they see potential prey (pinfish) out of place in a foreign environment (i.e. scooting across the reef edge tied to a kite or down 150 ft on the bottom at the end of a knocker rig). Do they see this as a rare treat and tear it up,, or are they wary and sence something is amiss, that something is 'fishy' :). Thanks for all the help and insite on this and thanks in advance if anyone else wheighs in on this!
  • Got TA GoGot TA Go Posts: 2,608 Captain
    I catch...Tarpon, Snook, Mutton Snapper, Red Snapper, Mangrove Snapper, Black/Red/Gag Grouper, Cobia, Kings, Cuda, Sails, Dolphin, Tuna (blackfin) as a "few" species using pinfish. I've even caught Yellowtail Snapper on the really small ones.

    For that matter, I've caught pinfish using pinfish as cutbait. :grin

    Live works best, about the size of my hand (palm) is a snack for just about everything that swims here in the Keys. 2-3" is best with the snapper species. Grouper eat them all, but I try and keep the larger ones 5+" as Grouper baits. Cobia, 4-6" pin works well.

    Just for fun, I sent one down on my deep drop rig...caught a Tilefish. Can't tell if the pin was still alive since he was 850' below the boat when he got ate. :fishing


    Hero's Don't Wear Capes....They Wear Dog Tags.
  • Reel TeaseReel Tease Posts: 657 Officer
    Snipping the dorsal fins will many time give you a better hook set. But usually if a fish is going to eat it, it will eat it. but that is one of the tricks to using pinfish. Also when on a school of nice sized Mangroves, pitch back a live pinfish and any big 10lb Mangrove will surely eat it. And yes, They get that big.
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,194 Captain
    One last tip - this time just about cutbaits in general.... If there's no visible current where you are - don't bother fishing cutbait. What makes any good fresh killed cutbait deadly is a bit of current so that your bait is it's own "chumline". Put a cutbait where there's no current and you could be there forever waiting on that first bite....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Nat1976Nat1976 Posts: 497 Officer
    Thanks for the tips and replies. I plan to put all of it to use. Ended up being a real cool thread and really informative. This forum really is something else,,, great people, great fisherman, and great advise. For some this is your vocation and craft, and your advise is not taken for granted. For me it's all about haveing some fun with my kids, once they've learnd how to tie a darn clinch knot:) THANKS!!
  • MiamipescadorMiamipescador Posts: 696 Officer
    Ive caught just about everything on pinfish... Tarpon, snook, cudas, seatrout, jacks, snapper, etc. Great bait.
    I like to hook them through the lips or nose with a circle hook and clip their dorsal spines as well as a piece of their tail.
    They are also good bait butterflied.
  • brianuf5220brianuf5220 Posts: 42 Greenhorn
    I live on the water in Ft Lauderdale and love using pinfish for offshore. Main reason is they stay alive in my bait cage. Literally they will stay alive for several months or longer. Sure Pilchards and Google Eyes are better, but hate buying and wasting if not used. Mainly troll, but want 6-10 live baits if a floater is found.

    One of the marinas on the water used to sell them but does not anymore. Anyone know were I can catch pinfish either near Port Everglades or Hillsboro inlet?
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