If you have been fishing for a while, you may be familiar with the old fishing technique of catching a fish by using another fish as a bait. To be successful with such a technique is not out of the ordinary, for the simple reason that many fish, such as bass, consume a variety of smaller fish in addition to their main diet of larger fish. In this manner, anglers have been fishing for centuries, and the only thing you need to do is make sure you have enough bait on hand to be successful.
But where can you go to find readily available bait like this? There are many different types of lures available in specialized shops, all of which are designed to look like the types of fish that other fish feed on. However, they may not be as effective as live bait in all situations. Shiners are small silvery fish that are commonly used as bait, and their name suggests that they are good for catching fish. In this article, we will focus on providing you with actionable information on how to catch shiners in the wild.
Shiners can always be found in abundance in aquariums, but the downside is that they do not appear to be as appetizing to the fish species that consume them as shiners caught in the wild. If you look for shiners in shallow water, you will be able to catch a large number of them. They have the advantage of moving through the water in the manner in which their predators expect them to, which can provide you with the exact advantage you require.
The following guide focuses on the various methods of catching shiners that you can employ. It is important to remember that we are discussing how to catch wild shiners, not how to catch the type that has been raised in a tank. After reading our guide, we hope that you will be able to catch shiners without any difficulty moving forward.
Lead shiners into your traps
If you want to catch shiners efficiently, you can do so by being strategic about your approach. An easy method that has been proven to be successful, setting traps will provide you with a large number of shiners, which you can use to bait other fish after they have been caught and released.
The first step is to set up the trap in shallow water so that it can be easily seen. This is the typical habitat of shiners, and if you concentrate your efforts in this area, you will be in luck. Shiners are also well-known among anglers for preferring to congregate near trees and other forms of vegetation that provide adequate shade, which they appreciate because it provides them with protection.
In order to successfully set a trap, it is not sufficient to simply place it in an area of water where shiners are a common occurrence. You can always entice them out of their hiding places by spreading some bread pieces in a shallow pool of water, away from the vegetation that serves as their natural habitat. Even if they are shy, the prospect of a tasty meal will entice them to emerge from the shadows and swim right into your trap.
It is critical that you do not cause any harm to the shiners after your trap has been fully stocked with the creatures. The most effective way to accomplish this is to ensure that your trap remains submerged while you operate the transfer. They must be kept healthy in order to function as live bait, and this is the procedure to be followed in order to accomplish this. After that, you can use them as bait for other types of fish.
Catching shiners with a cast net
If setting a trap is not your type of modus operandi, there are other methods you can employ with ease. One of them is to use a cast net and catch as many as you like in one go. Especially if you are interested in getting enough live bait for a long fishing trip, this should be your method of choice. Of course, there are some downsides to this method that you should take into consideration, but, otherwise, it is quite efficient and loved by many anglers.
The challenging part of catching shiners using a cast net is the degree of finesse and expertise needed for landing as much live bait as you want. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect, and, in due time, you will be able to register successful outcomes each time you employ this method.
The first thing you need to do when you are searching for shiners to catch is to see where they gather. Since they like sticking to the shadowy parts of the bodies of water they live in, they are not easy to spot. However, if you know what to look for, it is not as difficult as you might think. Those that are active can be spotted by their silvery bodies.
When they swim in deep waters, you may learn about their presence by the bubbles appearing on the surface. Once you decide to cast your net, make sure that there are no objects in the water or anywhere close by that can destroy it and ruin your fishing session.
Just as with the method mentioned earlier, you can make the fish come out from their hiding places by luring them with some tasty pieces of bread. You may not have to wait too long, either. After throwing the food all over, cast the net, to ensure that you cover as much surface as you can.
The weights attached to the edge of the net will sink in. Wait until you are sure that the desired enclosure was created. That is the moment when you start closing it. One of the reasons why this method requires finesse and practice is the following simple skill that is hard to master: you will have to close the net before the bottom is reached.
This way, you don’t have to worry about the net getting caught in various objects lying on the waterbed. When you pull the net up, do it quickly, to ensure that the health of the shiners is not affected. Just as mentioned a little earlier, you need them alive and kicking to be good to be used as bait.
The well-tried method of rod and line
Given the time commitment required to catch each shiner one by one, this may not be the first recommendation you would think to make. However, if you are the type of fisherman who is completely devoted to his or her rod and line, there may be no better option available to you.
Here are a few pointers that you can use to increase your chances of catching a large number of shiners without exerting too much effort. Bread is the preferred bait, so if you hook a small piece of bread into your hook, you will almost certainly catch something more frequently than not. One more thing to keep in mind when fishing for these small fish is that treble hooks are the best choice.
You should not simply remove the line from the water when the shiner bites. Slowly guide it into the hook, allowing it to set into the hook. If possible, avoid jerky movements and wait even a few minutes until you feel that the line has become tight and that the shiner has been hooked properly.
When you pull the shiner out of the water, make sure to handle it with extreme caution. This is something you don’t want to squeeze or otherwise damage. That will almost certainly assist you in keeping it alive and well.
Catching golden shiners
Do you want to know how to catch golden shiners? That can be a bit different from the usual, which is why we treat them separately here. One thing you need to know about golden shiners is that they eat a lot of larvae, small vegetation pieces, and algae; they can even eat small minnows, and that will give you an idea about how to lure them in.
The chum you should use is oatmeal, as they love the small flakes and can eat them. Entire schools of golden shiners will flock to the area, and you will be able to catch plenty of them. You can even use oatmeal by impaling some flakes on a hook. They love this chum so much that oatmeal can serve as bait, just as well.
What about the cold season? Is it possible to catch shiners?
Catching shiners in winter is not impossible. Since they are used as bait for ice fishing in many parts of the world, they are preferred to other lures. With this fish species, you can catch much bigger fish, like pike, walleye, and trout. Whenever you go ice fishing, it is quite a good idea to aim for having plenty of shiners as live bait.
It is true that shiners are not that widespread in winter, and you will have to look for them. However, once you find an excellent location, what remains to do is to set up a trap, like you usually do in the summertime.
Use your drill to make a hole in the ice, and put the trap inside. If you are not satisfied with how large the hole is after using the drill, you can use any ice-breaking tool to make it bigger. Use oatmeal or bread pieces to create an enticing trap for the shiners.
One thing to bear in mind when you go catching shiners in the cold season is that they tend to swim at different depths than usual. Layers of water have different temperatures, and the warmer ones are preferred by fish during winter.
That means that you might have to experiment a little with different depths until you manage to hit the jackpot. Your best bet is somewhere near the bottom, but you can never be too sure, which is why it is a good idea to experiment.
Sometimes you only need to leave the trap for half an hour and find it full of shiners when you get back to it. However, you may not always be this lucky, which means that there is nothing wrong with leaving the trap overnight. If you still find the trap empty, maybe you should search for another place.
The bottom line is that you can catch shiners in winter, but you have to find a good location, use the right bait and arm yourself with patience, as it might take a while until you can go ice fishing with plenty of live bait.
The seine net method
As we return to the topic of different methods for catching shiners, here is yet another one that you might find useful. In the event that you are accompanied by another person, a seine net can prove to be a more than adequate tool for the job. So, if you are traveling with a large group, you can be confident that you will catch a large amount of live bait by holding the seine net in the hands of several people.
You must make certain that the area you choose for casting a seine net is level enough so that you can stand on your two feet without the risk of losing your balance while doing so. Avoid strong currents and instead choose areas where everyone can sit upright with the water below their waists and the water is below their waists.
If someone is knocked down, it is very easy to scare the fish away, not to mention the entire unpleasant situation of having to dry your clothes before proceeding further. People should be positioned equally apart from one another in order to spread the seine net as wide as possible. At the very least, someone should be in close proximity to the shore.
This individual will serve as the pivot, while the other members of the team rotate in order to catch the shiners in the net, which will be suspended directly above the waterbed. You can rest assured that no shiners will escape in this manner. Do you remember how important it was to keep the fish healthy and stress-free when you were growing up? They must be caught in the same manner as when using a seine net to do so.
A bucket with a hole in the bottom that allows water to flow through should be used for storage. The live bait should have enough space to breathe, so don’t cram too many of them into the same bucket in a hurried manner. If you do not intend to use the live bait right away, it is a good idea to store the shiners in a cooler until needed. This will ensure that they remain alive until you require them.
Knowing how to catch this type of fish eliminates the need to rely on commercial bait purchased from specialized stores. When it comes to catching shiners, it can be a lot of fun, and it is an activity that can be shared with other friends as well. It is necessary to take into consideration a few rules, the most important of which are those that relate to the necessity of keeping the bait as healthy as possible. When you finally get around to using them as bait, they should behave exactly as they would in their natural environment, so that the larger fish you are hoping to catch will not suspect anything is amiss.
Charles Reynolds is an engineer from New York University with a passion for fishing. His earliest memories of fishing go back to the days spent on the lake with his grandfather who taught him the sport. Reynolds spends a large part of his holidays fishing with his son and passing on the skills to the little one.