Using Sandeels as Sea Fishing Bait
Sandeels are a terrific all-around sea fishing bait and can be used alive or frozen. If you live in the south-west of Britain you may have seen them caught in large seine nets from the local beaches. It is best to get live Sandeels, species such as bass, pollack, and rays are suckers for them. Once purchased or caught they can be stored for long periods in a floating wooden box known as a courge. The courge can be kept in seawater and tied to a mooring buoy until you need the eels. The sides of the box have very small holes to allow a constant flow of seawater to enter and leave, thus keeping the Sandeels alive.
If fishing from boat or shore you will need a bucket with an aerator pump to keep the eels in tip-top condition. Used alive, the Sandeel is rated highly as a bass bait. A small hook is used so as not to damage the eel or unbalance it. The hook is pushed through the skin under the jaw, and the eel is left to swim freely. It is advisable to use little or no weight on the line, and many bass specialists use a single split shot weight to take the eel down in the tide. If you can’t get hold of live Sandeels then the next best thing is a packet of good quality frozen ones.
Many bait companies use a blast-freezing process, which keeps the Sandeel as fresh as the day it was caught. Frozen Sandeels can be presented whole, cut into halves or used in strips. In the summer they can often be dug from the sand right on the tide line as the water drops. You will need a fork to do this and a quick eye to spot the eels as they try to burrow away in the soft sand.
When fishing for bass in a tidal run it is better to present the eel on a long trace with minimal or no weight. A single split shot can be used to force the eel down in the water, leaving it to swim freely. If you need more weight due to the pull of the tide, a small drilled ball weight can be used free-running on the line. When hooking Sandeels for this method it is important that they are only lightly hooked so they can swim unhindered. A size 1 or even size 2 Aberdeen-style hook should be inserted into the flesh under the jaw once only.
To fish a frozen eel in the same manner as described above it is advisable to pass the hook through the mouth and exit it just behind the gills. The hook will act as a means or support in keeping the eel upright and will let the tail sway in the flow in a natural manner. for other species, like rays, the hook is passed all the way through the eel’s body. The point of the hook is then left- pointing out from the side of the eel near the tail. This is done because a ray will often take a moment or two to take the bait well into its mouth. Approaching the eel from behind, the hook is therefore in the right position to enable a good hook hold should the ray try and eject the bait. Sandeels can be cut in half when used fresh or frozen and fished under a float for Pollack, mackerel, and garfish.
Sandeels can usually be bought from the local tackle dealer and are available live and frozen. Live Sandeels for sea fishing bait are best if you can get them.
Using Razorfish for Sea Fishing Bait
The Razorfish is are excellent sea Fishing bait and is widely used for bass, cod, and flatfish. it takes its name from the razor-shaped shell that surrounds the body. There are four species of Razorfish found in British waters, and the most common is the pod razor which is usually about 3-5 in (7:62-12.7 cm) in length. Razors can be gathered from the beach after a storm and are usually found right on the tide line buried beneath the sand.
Anglers who have collected razors will be aware of a neat little trick you can employ to get the razor up to the surface of the sand. Take a bag of household salt, sprinkle it down the keyhole-shaped depressions in the sand, which are the razor’s burrows. After a short time, they will come up to the surface and investigate the irritating salt, thus giving away their presence. When spotted they should be held tightly until they relinquish their grip. Try keep movement and sound to a bare minimum because once the Razorfish are aware of your presence, they will bury deeper into the sand.
You may need to use a fork to dig them out, and this is hard work as they move down through the sand very quickly. To prise the meat out, insert a knife carefully into the hinge of the shell. Don’t force the shell apart as all this will do is tear the meat inside. The main attraction as a bait is the meaty foot, which, when placed on a hook, will support the rest of the body.
Razors are best used fresh when the meat is tough. After freezing, the meat tends to go soft and it becomes difficult to keep on the hook. If you have enough razors and wish to freeze them, it is advisable to blanch them in the shell with boiling water before freezing. This will help to make the skin tougher. However, as with many other baits, there is no substitute for a fresh razor, which is a great bait for bass and cod in the winter.
For best results, small razors can be hooked in a similar fashion to worm baits. This will involve taking the whole razor from the shell and threading the hook down through the centre of the flesh. As they are only 3 in (7.5cm) long it is advisable to present two on the hook. Bigger Razorfish can be used as a single bait and are threaded on in the same manner. The tough, fleshy skin of the foot can be used to keep the bait on the hook once the main body has been threaded on. Razors cut into smaller bits are good for tipping lugworm baits when cod fishing. The tough texture of the skin helps keep the softer worm on the hook.
Both Sandeels and Razorfish are a perfect sea fishing bait for many species a fish.