Successfully catching bait can be a key to fishing success, and when it comes to catching bluefish, striped bass, and a variety of other saltwater sportfish, anglers should know how to get their own menhaden, a particularly attractive bait. These oily herring, better known as mossbunkers or just bunkers, are big enough to make freshwater anglers embarrassed about going after eight-inch trout. Get one of these bunkers on your line, especially when foul hooked, and anglers with light tackle are in for a tussle. They make bait-catching fun.
Finding the bunkers is the real challenge. Having friends out on the water, with their radios on, makes locating the bait easier, as their reports can guide you to schools. When you are on your own, however, depend on your eyes. Look for “nervous” water: that is, a change in the surface from the water around it. That change can range from slight ripples to obvious splashes, where the bait are surfacing, likely being chased by blues, stripers or other predators. A weighted treble snagging hook, popular, where legal, with Great Lakes salmon fishermen who foulhook the would-be spawners, is the ticket. Cast into this nervous water, let the hook sink a few feet below the surface, then continually make sharp yanks with your rod, as if you were setting the hook into a monstrous fish. Each time you yank, reel in the newly created slack line. If the fish are there, you will likely connect with a bunker.
Your efforts will be rewarded not only with productive baitfish, but also with a lot of fun-filled fishing action while collecting your bait.
Shrub Oak, New York