You Catch More Fish With Lively Live Bait

When you fish with me you always will have good bait. My nightcrawlers are kept in fresh worm bedding and always stored in the cooler where I keep my pop and sandwiches. My leeches are hand picked and stored in a separate cooler of water where I can pitch in an ice cube or two if needed. My minnows always are in my aerated baitwell or hanging in a Plano flow-through bucket on the side of the boat. If the sun is high and hot, I keep the coolers in a shady spot in the boat. My intention here is to make sure my live bait doesn’t become dead bait because lively live bait catches fish, something I really enjoy doing.

Tips On Rigging Crawlers
You always can tell a well-conditioned nightcrawler. When you pick them out of the worm bedding they’re plump, taut-skinned; they almost feel like they’ll pop if you give them a little squeeze. And they also wiggle.

A poor excuse for a nightcrawler is one that is limp and skinny, all stretched out and barely moving.

When you hook a good “crawler” it keeps on wriggling and it’s this action that will put a neutral walleye into a feeding frenzy.

I typically use a #4 or #6 hook when fishing crawlers on a Roach Rig and you only need to hook them once through the front tip, what I call the nose, and let the rest of the worm dangle.

Nightcrawlers don’t maintain their hardy nature long while being dragged around in deep cold water with a hook in their snout. So check your bait occasionally and make sure the big worm is still doing its dance for those walleyes.

Rigging Minnows
For minnows I use a #2 hook. By the way, I prefer the Daiichi snell hooks for crawlers and leeches and use a Tru-Turn since it has a longer shank for the minnows.

One way to attach the minnow is to run the tip of the hook through the minnow’s mouth and then out behind the head. This will keep the minnow alive and kicking, something that won’t happen if you bring the hook out through the minnow’s head.

Gary and his wife Bev hold up a nice walleye.

Or you can just lip hook the minnow. You still run the point of the hook through the minnow’s mouth, but bring it out just behind the lip.

Roach rigging is a slow, finesse approach so you want the minnow providing some movement. This injured minnow action will always ring the dinner bell and get you a bite.

With minnows you can do some experimenting. Like hooking through the tail or even just through the skin on the belly. That little something different can often make a big difference.

Rigging Leeches
I like a small hook for leeches. If the fish are biting I use a #6, but if the walleyes aren’t cooperating I’ll use a #8 or maybe even a #10 hook. The lighter hook allows the leech to swim off the bottom because there is so little weight from the fine-wire hook. A heavier hook drags the leech to the bottom.

When I grab a leech out of the cooler I’m looking for a swimmer. Hook the leech right through the sucker and drop it over the side. You want the leech to swim. If it balls up on the hook it’s not going to catch fish.

Check the leech occasionally next to the boat and if it looks weak and weary put on a new one that’s got some muscle.

Here’s one thing to remember when you’re using leeches with a small hook: You can’t winch that fish in, you have to play them. Make sure the drag on your reel is set to be forgiving and work that walleye slowly until you get them into the net. Anglers lose fish most often when those walleyes take a run right at the boat and pull the hook loose. Let the drag let them run and don’t be in a hurry.

Do you wonder sometimes why that boat just 30 yards away is catching fish and you’re not even getting a nibble. Could be that they’re using great bait and you’re using mushy meat. It makes a difference.

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