On Big Bend, there are various live baits for fishing, including shrimp, pinfish, mud minnows, and threadfin herring. Shrimp is the most common, while pinfish can be caught at the spot. Mud minnows are found in needle grass shorelines and creeks, while threadfin herring is a top snook bait. Handling these baits requires care.
Best Fishing Baits for the Florida Gulf Coast
There are many live baits on Big Bend that I enjoy using. Shrimp is the most common live bait. It can be purchased at most local tackle shops. Pinfish would be the next in line for inshore and offshore fishing. The pinfish I use I catch at the spot I'm fishing. I believe that the fish that I'm targeting are used to eating them and they are easy to catch. I use a small hook that I keep on a spare rod just for this purpose. A small piece of shrimp is all it takes to get them. Most areas have some sort of grass that pinfish will be darting around, sometimes they're so thick it looks like stars twinkling over the flats as the tide turns in.
Mud minnows are another great inshore bait and I catch them just the same as pinfish but the location is different. Needle grass shorelines inside creeks and little coves you can find them. Some areas are accessible by cars like Ozello Trail or Ft. Island Trail. The good thing about a mud minnow is they last for days with minimum water or a good live well, so the day before heading out fishing you can catch some bait with just a little effort.
One of our area's top snook bait is threadfin herring or white bait. Being the last week to keep a slot size snook, threadfin is the ace up your sleeve to catch one, they cannot resist them as proven since the early 80's in Tampa Bay. As our area has changed with more snook there are a few spots to catch threadfin with sabikis. The closest inshore spot is the old scallop rack that sits due west of Gomez Rocks or between St. Martins Keys and the Crystal River Channel. A decent live well is a must because these are not hardy baits and must be handled with care.
Capt. William Toney
Homosassa Inshore FishingCaptain William Toney In The Spread, Instructor