Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Keeping Live Bait Alive Robust, Active Baits Attract More Trout

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Keeping Live Bait Alive Robust, Active Baits Attract More Trout

Article excerpt

Scent, taste, color, size, position in the water - all contribute to a fish's attraction to food. But in most cases, if the food isn't moving the game fish is moving on.

That's why they call it "live" bait.

As Pennsylvania anglers prepare for Saturday's statewide opening of trout season, those who rely on live bait need a reliable process for keeping it alive. The iconic tin can will still hold dirt and worms, but with no insulation or wetness suppression, its effectiveness as a bait container is limited. New biological insights and container technologies can help to keep baits alive and active on the hook.

This year, most live baits are readily available. Canadian worm farms, Minnesotan minnow and leech suppliers and South American butter worm breeders have had no problem getting their product to retail shops. In many areas prices have risen slightly.

Each live bait species has specific needs that must be met to extend their effectiveness.

Trout rarely see earthworms, but they are so attracted to the smelly, wiggly curiosities that red worms remain the most common trout bait, followed closely by nightcrawlers cut in half (the anterior section above the clitellum works best). But when worms smell sour and drift limp and lifeless, they're far less effective as trout bait.

"Worms just need to be cool and dry," said Dwight Yingling, owner of North Park Sports Shop near North Park Lake. "A cooler with a freezer pack is fine. Just don't leave them out in the sun."

If you plan to be mobile, cover a few dozen worms with cool dirt in a small insulated container with a tight lid and carry it in a shady pocket. A small freezer pack will keep worms healthy and active at 40 to 45 degrees. Don't use ice cubes - water in the worm cup can be lethal to live bait.

Most bait shops sell red worms and crawlers packed in a dark black peat moss. If you're digging, shocking or finding worms, carry them in cool black topsoil.

Larvae baits - meal worms, wax worms, butter worms and maggots - are most comfortable packed in dry sawdust in a covered insulated container at about 50 degrees. …

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