February 10, 2012
Florida Sportsman member Livinthedream asks a common question: What is the best use of those live baits that were unused and then frozen? Most often, kayakers offshore use artificial lures, or live baits if they have a suitable livewell. But there is a time and a place for frozen baits.
"What are the best uses for goggle-eyes I have caught and frozen?" asks Livinthedream. "I know they are great for a variety of fish live. But what about after freezing them? I'm just getting down the technique of catching them and had some extras."
If you plan on using those frozen baits quickly, a quick pack-and-freeze is an easy answer. But if those baits sit in the freezer for some time, a better option is to brine your baitfish. Simply put, brining consists of saturating the baits with salt to toughen them up and lengthen their frozen shelf life.
Florida Sportsman member Phishing Phanatic uses live baits, but he'll also use freshly frozen baitfish offshore. "When I freeze them, I put them in a brine solution as soon as I catch them (to get them super chilled). Then, I dry them well with paper towels and vacuum seal them 4 to 6 to a pack with a food saver." Win a free vacuum saver from Florida Sportsman here.
Once you're ready to fish with the frozen baits, fish them the same way you would off a center console boat. Drop them to the bottom with a jighead or knocker rig. Both cut baits or whole baits work in different situations. Pay special attention to how they're deployed, as frozen baits can cause headaches. One, cut baits will get mushy fairly quickly and can fall from the hook. Two, whole baits can spin in circles when being deployed, causing line twists in your rig.
Other methods include freelining them at mid-depths or the surface, though live bait is much better in this scenario. Or you can troll the baits, similar to how you would lipped hard baits. A kayak that is pedal-powered is ideally suited for trolling. Florida Sportsman member Salty Sack recommends to troll them 'high' with a skirt covering the bait. "Color can vary from day to day, just get something flashy that supports natural bait coloring," says Salty.
If you want to troll baits other than hard plugs or natural baits, another option is to try the offshore imitators. Williamson Lures and other companies offer offshore mimics for ballyhoo, goggle-eyes, Spanish mackerel, bullet bonito and many others. See the thread that started this conservation at the Florida Sportsman Forums.