Ballyhoo is a popular saltwater baitfish used to attract predatory fish species like tuna, marlin, and wahoo. Found in tropical and subtropical waters, they are commonly found in the western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and South America. They belong to the Hemiramphidae family and are commonly caught using artificial lures. Catching methods depend on fishing equipment and location.
Ballyhoo Bait - Smarter Fishing
Ballyhoo is a type of baitfish that is commonly used in saltwater fishing to attract a variety of predatory fish species. Ballyhoo are known for their distinctive long, slender bodies and bright colors, which make them attractive to fish like tuna, marlin, and wahoo. They are often used in combination with a artificial lure, such as a skirt or a jig, and can be rigged in a number of different ways to suit the preferences of the angler. Ballyhoo are a popular choice for offshore fishing because they are readily available and are known to be effective at attracting a wide range of fish species.
This baitfish is found in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They are most commonly found in the western Atlantic Ocean, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and along the coast of South America. However, they can also be found in other parts of the world, including the eastern Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, and the coasts of West Africa and Australia. Ballyhoo are typically found in shallow, coastal waters and are known to inhabit a variety of different environments, including coral reefs, estuaries, and mangrove forests.
Taxonomy of a Ballyhoo
Ballyhoo are a type of baitfish that belong to the family Hemiramphidae, which is part of the order Beloniformes. Within the family Hemiramphidae, there are several different genera of ballyhoo, including Hemiramphus, Exocoetus, and Hyporhamphus. Ballyhoo are closely related to other saltwater baitfish, such as halfbeaks and needlefish, which are also members of the order Beloniformes.
The scientific name for the most commonly used ballyhoo species in fishing is Hemiramphus brasiliensis, which is also known as the Brazilian ballyhoo or the Atlantic ballyhoo. This species is native to the western Atlantic Ocean and is found from Florida to Brazil. It is a popular choice for recreational fishing because of its abundance and effectiveness as bait.
How To Catch Ballyhoo
There are a few different methods for catching ballyhoo, depending on the type of fishing equipment you have available and the location where you are fishing. Here is a proven method for catching ballyhoo:
- Chumming: Chumming is a technique in which bait is used to attract fish to a specific area. Chumming can be an effective way to catch ballyhoo, particularly if you are fishing in an area where ballyhoo are known to be abundant. To catch ballyhoo using chumming, you will need a boat and some type of bait or chum to attract the ballyhoo to your location. Once the ballyhoo are in the area, casting netting works wonders.
- Cast netting: One of the most effective ways to catch ballyhoo is by using a cast net. Cast nets are circular nets with weights around the edge that are thrown by hand to encircle a school of baitfish. To catch ballyhoo with a cast net, you will need to locate a school of ballyhoo and then throw the net over the top of them. It can take some practice to master the technique of cast netting, but it is a very effective way to catch large quantities of ballyhoo.
Learn to Rig Ballyhoo
If you want to learn several ways to rig ballyhoo for a wide variety of species, check out our Bait Rigging Videos. We will show you step by step rigging techniques.
In general, there are many different ways to rig ballyhoo for fishing, and the most effective method will depend on the species of fish you are targeting and the type of fishing you are doing. Here are a few common methods for rigging ballyhoo for fishing:
- Circle hook rig: A circle hook rig is a simple and effective way to rig ballyhoo for trolling or livelining. To create a circle hook rig, you will need a circle hook, a leader, and a swivel. You can attach the ballyhoo to the hook using a leader, and then attach the hook to the swivel using a knot like the fisherman's knot or the uni knot.
- Jighead rig: A jighead rig is a common way to rig ballyhoo for jigging or vertical fishing. To create a jighead rig, you will need a jighead and a hook. You can attach the ballyhoo to the hook using a leader or by threading the hook through the ballyhoo's mouth and out through the gill plate.
- Trolling rig: A trolling rig is a specific type of rig that is designed for use when trolling for predatory fish. To create a trolling rig, you will need a hook, a leader, and a weight or lure. You can attach the ballyhoo to the hook using a leader, and then attach the hook to the weight or lure using a knot like the fisherman's knot or the uni knot.
- Trolling skirt rig: A trolling skirt rig is a rig that combines a hook with a skirt or artificial lure. To create a trolling skirt rig, you will need a hook, a leader, a skirt or lure, and a swivel. You can attach the ballyhoo to the hook using a leader, and then attach the hook to the skirt or lure using a knot like the fisherman's knot or the uni knot. The skirt or lure can be used to add flash and movement to the rig, making it more attractive to predatory fish.
Ballyhoo Bait Fish
Ballyhoo are a popular choice for offshore fishermen because they are effective at attracting a wide range of predatory fish species, including tuna, marlin, wahoo, and sailfish. They are also widely available and relatively inexpensive, making them a cost-effective choice for anglers.
One of the main reasons that ballyhoo are so effective as bait is that they are a natural prey item for many predatory fish species. Ballyhoo have a distinctive appearance and swimming style that is attractive to predatory fish, and they are also known to emit a chemical attractant that can lure fish to them. When used as bait, ballyhoo can be fished in a number of different ways, such as trolling, jigging, or livelining, which makes them versatile and suitable for a variety of fishing situations.
In addition to their effectiveness as bait, ballyhoo are also relatively easy to store and transport, making them convenient for offshore fishermen. They can be kept alive in a baitwell or livewell on a boat, or they can be frozen and thawed as needed. This makes them a practical choice for anglers who are targeting predatory fish species in offshore waters.
Ways to Store Ballyhoo Baits
There are a few different methods for storing ballyhoo bait, depending on your specific needs and the availability of resources. Here are a few options for storing ballyhoo:
- Livewell: If you are on a boat and have access to a livewell, keeping the ballyhoo alive in the well is the best way to store them. A livewell is a tank that is designed to keep live baitfish in good condition while they are being transported. To store ballyhoo in a livewell, you will need to ensure that the water in the well is well-oxygenated and properly aerated. You can add an aerator or a bubbler to the livewell to help keep the water oxygenated.
- Bait bucket: If you are fishing from shore or do not have access to a livewell, you can store ballyhoo in a bait bucket. A bait bucket is a container that is designed to hold live baitfish. To store ballyhoo in a bait bucket, you will need to add enough water to the bucket to cover the ballyhoo and keep them moist. You should also add an aerator or bubbler to the bucket to help keep the water oxygenated.
- Freezer: If you are not planning to use the ballyhoo right away, you can store them in a freezer until you are ready to use them. To freeze ballyhoo, you will need to clean and gut them, and then wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can then place the wrapped ballyhoo in a sealable plastic bag and store them in the freezer. When you are ready to use the frozen ballyhoo, you can thaw them by placing them in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator until they are fully thawed.
Fishing with Ballyhoo
There are a number of different ways to fish with ballyhoo as bait, depending on the species of fish you are targeting and the type of fishing equipment you have available. Here are a few common techniques for fishing with ballyhoo:
- Trolling: Trolling is a popular technique for fishing with ballyhoo, particularly when targeting pelagic fish species like tuna and wahoo. To troll with ballyhoo, you will need a boat and a fishing rod equipped with a reel that has a strong drag system. You can rig the ballyhoo in a number of different ways, such as using a circle hook and a leader, or attaching it to a lure. Once the ballyhoo is rigged, you can troll it behind the boat at various speeds and depths to attract predatory fish.
- Deep Dropping: Deep dropping ballyhoo for swordfish is a fishing technique that involves using a special rig to present a baitfish, usually a ballyhoo, at a depth of 800 to 1200 feet, where swordfish typically feed during the day
- Jigging: Jigging is another effective technique for fishing with ballyhoo, particularly when targeting species like amberjack and grouper. To jig with ballyhoo, you will need a heavy-duty fishing rod and reel, as well as a jigging lure or jighead. You can rig the ballyhoo onto the jighead using a hook or a leader, and then use a series of jerking and lifting motions to mimic the movement of a wounded baitfish.
- Live lining: Live lining is a technique in which a live baitfish, such as a ballyhoo, is used to target predatory fish species. To liveline with ballyhoo, you will need a boat, a fishing rod and reel, and a hook or leader to attach the ballyhoo to the line. Once the ballyhoo is rigged, you can cast it out and allow it to swim freely in the water, using the rod to control its movement and keep it near the surface. This technique can be effective for attracting predatory fish like tuna, marlin, and sailfish.