“Learn what kinds of bait prefer what kind of structure,” says Capt. Ray Rosher of R+R Tackle, manufacturer of quality fishing accessories in Miami.

“Pilchards love sandy bottom with grass. Threadfins and sardines often roam the beach early and late. Buoys hold blue runners, speedos and cigar minnows. Goggle-eyes come into shallow water at night.”

Rosher says never leave the inlet without looking for birds. Divingpelicansareeasytospot, but a single tern locked onto a small area may be hovering over a bait ball big enough to fill your well. Also:

“Here in South Florida we find wrecks and rubble in 20 to 50 feet of water are dependable spots to hold baits. Always check marks that you spot just off the structure, too.”

For sailfish anglers, finding bait in deepwater isa recipe for success—especially in the winter.

“When the fleet set a record for the Palm Beach Silver Sailfish Derby with 636 releases, it was because we found schools of cigar minnows in 110 feet of water,” Rosher recalled.

A soft-tip spinning rod with 12-pound mono isRosher’schoiceforcatching sardines and other small baits with sabikis. Favorite size sabiki to start? His RGF4, but R+R makes 40 models to cover everything from sardines to Boston mackerel. RGF4 is code for a fluorocarbon 10-pound main line with 6-pound- test arms and 4 red tipped and 4 green tipped No. 4 hooks.

“A number 4 sabiki will catch anything,” said Rosher.

“If you’re worried about breaking the arms off, loosen your drag. A blue runner pulling drag will only attract more blue runners. Once you’ve determined which color tips are working best on the bait you want, switch to all red or all green. Move up to a number 6 sabiki if you want to eliminate smaller baits.

Rosher is also adamant about using de-hookers when you bring the bait up. “Keep the sabiki stretched out with the fisherman holding the weight, and his partner unhooking the bait with a de-hooker directly over the well. It’s easier, faster, and the bait lasts longer if it’s not handled.FS

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