Guest viewing is limited
  • Welcome to the DeeperBlue.com Forums, the largest online community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing. To gain full access to the DeeperBlue.com Forums you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:

    • Join over 44,280+ fellow diving enthusiasts from around the world on this forum
    • Participate in and browse from over 516,210+ posts.
    • Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
    • Post your own photos or view from 7,441+ user submitted images.
    • All this and much more...

    You can gain access to all this absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!

  • PLEASE NOTE: There will be forum downtime today (Thursday 13th May 2021) as we migrate to a new server and do some housekeeping!

Bait to attract fish

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
As with the thread about attracting fish using noise. How about using bait? I read everything from boats running a trail of bits of guts thrown into the water to people placing a can of cat food in a place that is easily ambushed.

My own experience is more from accidental chumming. When cleaning a pile of fish at dusk often murenas or octopus come paying a visit. Today as I was bleeding some large lionfish' I got visited by a small school of lesser amberjacks and later by belones. So I know it works, but every time I try it on purpose, like placing a well-sliced bleeding fish with its guts hanging out under a stone, nothing comes to have a look and an hour later the fish is still there, covered by bearded fireworms.

How do you use bait? You use it only in open water or also in the reef? Making a trail or just laying it down? Accompanying with flashers or not? What kind of fish does a certain bait attract? Any must-try recipes, or just sliced catch and leftovers from the filleting?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. X

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
I used to place baited lobster pots near the start of my dives. Dual purpose: catch lobsters, attract fish. I started with tinned sardines.

Later I saved guts & heads from previous dives and used them as bait for the pots or just returned them to the sea, seems the most appropriate way to deal with them. I think it helped, longer term, as I once encountered a huge fish almost as soon as I entered the water at a favourite spot for returning guts to the sea. Still by far the biggest fish I have encountered.

Nowadays I usually gut the fish immediately after dispatching them. Again, two reason: bait/chum and reduces mess and work later at home. Probably helps preserve the fish, especially grey mullet, too. Fishes on the stringer also act as my "fish magnet". So, it makes spearing that elusive first fish of the day all the more critical - because, once speared, it provides bait (commotion/scent/taste/visual) and the gutted fish acts as a visual and scent attractor (my "fish magnet" :) ).
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
368
82
In Southern California I don't think chumming is done very often. And when we gut our fish on the swim step, the sea lions usually get to them before any fish could.

Some friends in Hawaii tell me that when hunting wahoo, they use a small gun hanging from their float to shoot some sort of baitfish, and then throw it across the surface at the wahoo when they see one.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. X and Leander

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
Later I saved guts & heads from previous dives and used them as bait for the pots or just returned them to the sea, seems the most appropriate way to deal with them.
Thisbis always my intention, but the dogs like those sun-dried crunchy lionfish heads that it's not often that something is left over. The guts I always leave in the water to prevent a stinky fermenting mess at home. Since rotting increases the smell, would it be beneficial? I don't know if fish consume rotten guts, but dogs and cats would be so happy they'd go rolling their backs in them.

This talk about selmelly fish guts also makes me wonder about the stuff we use when putting on the wetsuit. I use a shampoo-mix, and if there's anything smelling unnatural it is shampoo. Would this have a negative effect? If a fish can smell blood from far away, then so it can smell shampoo. I am under the impression, though not tested nor proven, that by the end of the dive the fish seem to come closer and also murenas look at me like I'm a tasty snack because by that time my suit and the water around me smells like fish. Also whennI dive without suit, fish seem to come a lot closer. Have you noticed something similar? I might try putting on the suit in the water instead of using shampoo and see if it makes a difference.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. X

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
In Southern California I don't think chumming is done very often. And when we gut our fish on the swim step, the sea lions usually get to them before any fish could.

Some friends in Hawaii tell me that when hunting wahoo, they use a small gun hanging from their float to shoot some sort of baitfish, and then throw it across the surface at the wahoo when they see one.
Here we have the Mediterranean Monk Seal, but seeing one of those is a very rare event. One stole an octopus from me one day.

What exactly is considered baitfish? A stupid question perhaps, but in the end every fish is bait for something else. I heard certain fish like anchovies and squid are very much favored by a lot of fish, but what makes those two so special?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. X

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,414
1,184
368
82
Here we have the Mediterranean Monk Seal, but seeing one of those is a very rare event. One stole an octopus from me one day.

What exactly is considered baitfish? A stupid question perhaps, but in the end every fish is bait for something else. I heard certain fish like anchovies and squid are very much favored by a lot of fish, but what makes those two so special?
In Southern California, anchovies, sardines and mackerel are the most frequently used bait fish. I suppose they are all relatively oily. Squid are also popular. Last week we shot some yellowtail that were full of squid. Jon Huberman, the guy who makes Ulusub guns in Hawaii, told me about shooting baitfish to throw at wahoo but he used a Hawaiian name with which I’m not familiar. However, he said it’s so oily that he puts a rough sandpaper finish on his gun handles.

People here use various shampoos and conditioners in their suits and I’m not aware of any deterrent factor but just in case I use a scent free conditioner called Unicure.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mr. X and Leander

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
Thisbis always my intention, but the dogs like those sun-dried crunchy lionfish heads that it's not often that something is left over. The guts I always leave in the water to prevent a stinky fermenting mess at home. Since rotting increases the smell, would it be beneficial? I don't know if fish consume rotten guts, but dogs and cats would be so happy they'd go rolling their backs in them.
I believe most animals prefer rotting/rotted meat/guts. More scent and easier to digest. A sea angler friend told me how he was forced to use rank old bait, on one trip night fishing. Didn't hold out much hope but ended up catching his biggest ever bass!

Re. Lube scent, I'm sure fish to detect it but not sure what I they make of it. Gun dogs seem to like my aftershave! :D
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
...What exactly is considered baitfish? A stupid question perhaps, but in the end every fish is bait for something else. I heard certain fish like anchovies and squid are very much favored by a lot of fish, but what makes those two so special?
Maybe anchovies because they are small and squid because they are soft/easy to digest (nice and chewy - like fishy winegums :D)?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
Re. Bill's post on scentless lube, there are/were several wetsuit lube products:

Spearo Dave used to carry one at spearo.co.uk, which looks defunct now. I regret not trying it.

Dan Man shows a wetsuit lube powder he uses in one of his youtube videos. Mixes it with water to make up bottles of lube. I suppose a dry powder is probably less inclined to go off.

There was wetsuit lube made out of seaweed (carageen?) which I think is harvested in South America and China. Sounds ideal, if they can resist the temptation to add scent and nasty/smelly chemicals. I did look into importing it at one point: it is cheap but the minimum volumes were way too big.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
Lube scent
As an experiment I put the suit on in the water today, no shampoo. Right around the corner of the little bay where I started I was surrounded by a school of amberjacks, and the other fish during the dives seemed to be less spooked by me. Of course it also could've been the waves or the mental part that made the difference. Or just because of Monday... :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andrew the fish

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
scentless lube
That we can't smell it doesn't mean fish can't. But I like where this is going. If a fish is attracted by bait, even if it is in the form of a for it completely alien shape of a can of catfood, then obviously smell plays an important role in the sea. That means scent-based camouflage could be a real thing.
 

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
Better lube up with sardine oil then! :D. Actually I bet that would attract fish.

I came across an angling store in Yorkshire some years ago that sold quite large bottles of fish oil (I forget which fish, if any, was specified). Presumably added to bait as an attractant.

I recall seeing a TV program once that claimed that sharks are attracted to fish oil rather than blood in the water. I'm not convinced. Most likely sharks vary like people. Maybe some well fed sharks are fussy but let's face it sharks have bitten kayaks and surf boards and eaten people.

If you gut your fish at sea, you get blood and guts and no doubt some fish oil too. Not recommended for sharky condition though.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
that sold quite large bottles of fish oil
Probably the same fish oil as sold expensive at the drug stores! :D

I just bought a new bottle of baby shampoo as suit lube (I always cry when I get shampoo in my eyes.. :) ), but looking at the ingredients it's mostly glycerin. So next order will be a big bottle of that, see how it works.

Dan Man shows a wetsuit lube powder he uses in one of his youtube videos. Mixes it with water to make up bottles of lube. I
I read some old post about a brand using methyl cellulose. The stuff used as wallpaper paste (or bread improving agent). It mixes well with cold water and gets quite slippery. Could this have been it?
 

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
Would it be better to make a trail with the fish guts or other bait and then place a bigger cache somewhere, or just focussed on one place?

And with gutting catch... Do fish learn well enough to remember a place that often has fresh fish guts? So does gutting in the same spot over and over increase the chance of something like X's record fish happening?
 

marco15499

Laguneros Spearfishing
Apr 4, 2011
259
98
68
Chuming works. Either open water or reef. It is better if it is a trail, as you cover more surface.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Mr. X

Forum Mentor
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
8,079
1,620
418
There is usually enough tidal current to create a trail without laying one but yes that might work. Fish memory? Yes probably coincidence. Supposedly goldfish have very poor memory not sure about other species. I guess food and it's location/residue might be more memorable than other things? Anglers sometimes groundbait a swim over a period of time to attract and retain fish and get accustomed to a particular bait.

And to be clear, I did not spear the "record fish" but that's another story.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

mad mat

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2006
19
5
93
36
The reefs here on the Great Barrier Reef I dive, respond really well to burley (chumming). You spear a bait fish, fusilliers are a good option. Swing to the flood point or just up current of where you in tend to hunt and start chopping the fish up in the water. The trick is to cut pieces that are too small for sharks to eat but enough that it brings the bait out and off the bottom.

Half the time, just the commotion of what you are doing brings in the fish. Spanish mackerel respond well this way. They see the shower of scales fluttering through the water column and can’t help them selves.

I like to chop up the the bait fish and let the burley sink and dive it a couple of times. When it gets to about 20ft I chop up the other side. Fusiliers are about a foot long so I usually chop up half of each side at a time. This way you can have burley covering 20ft intervals. As it sinks it brings out the reef fish and gets the mackerel hanging around.

Just remember to keep the burley to small pieces. If there are sharks around, don’t use chunks. And also, once you scrape all the meat off the fish frame, don’t just throw it. Break it up. Break up the back bone, tail, tear off the gills and break up the head. Theres at least another 10-15 pieces of burley in a small frame.
 

Brochman

Active Member
Jul 16, 2016
136
60
43
One that has worked for me is to take a small mesh bag and stuff it full of Kelp. Place the bag in a 5 gal bucket and put the lid on and let sit for a few days . The kelp will break down and get slimey then all you do is push the bag through the arms and legs and through out the rest of the wetsuit and jump in. Have a couple of mesh bags full of Kelp in one bucket so you always have a source.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Leander

Leander

Well-Known Member
Oct 17, 2017
400
221
58
37
The kelp will break down and get slimey then all you do is push the bag through the arms and legs and through out the rest of the wetsuit and jump in.
That's a nice one; A 100% ecologic, sustainable and free wetsuit lube with a natural smell. Unfortunately we don't have any kelp here, but I like the idea!

burley burley burley
Thanks Mad Mat! That's the kind of detailed information I was fishing for. Now as bait fish you mention the fusiliers. I will have to look that fish up fishbase. But would you think certain baitfish attract certain predators? Like the fusiliers attracting the mackerels, sardines attracting something else, etc..? As people mentioned earlier about using an oily fish. Does the fusilier fit into that category?
 

mad mat

Well-Known Member
Jan 20, 2006
19
5
93
36
That's a nice one; A 100% ecologic, sustainable and free wetsuit lube with a natural smell. Unfortunately we don't have any kelp here, but I like the idea!


Thanks Mad Mat! That's the kind of detailed information I was fishing for. Now as bait fish you mention the fusiliers. I will have to look that fish up fishbase. But would you think certain baitfish attract certain predators? Like the fusiliers attracting the mackerels, sardines attracting something else, etc..? As people mentioned earlier about using an oily fish. Does the fusilier fit into that category?
I don’t think it matters to much, particularly if they are in the food chain. Just target what’s around.

Any soft flesh fish works well. Fusies are just a favourite. They school up and get nailed by everything big.




0FEA72E4-DB25-470B-B7C4-5227E888034E.jpeg
 
DeeperBlue.com - The Worlds Largest Community Dedicated To Freediving, Scuba Diving and Spearfishing

ABOUT US

ISSN 1469-865X | Copyright © 1996 - 2021 deeperblue.net limited.

DeeperBlue.com is the World's Largest Community dedicated to Freediving, Scuba Diving, Spearfishing and Diving Travel.

We've been dedicated to bringing you the freshest news, features and discussions from around the underwater world since 1996.

ADVERT