Bait stealers are a common issue if you’re surf fishing. They swim around, eating all of the bait off your line without getting hooked. Unfortunately, bait stealers can cost you a whole lot of time and money in the process. They’re very common in surf fishing, leading many beginners to feel discouraged.
So, do you want to learn how to avoid bait stealers in surf fishing? Try one of the following suggestions:
- Cast the line further out.
- Catch the thieves in the process
- Switch to a different area
- Use Fish Bites
- Choose a new bait
- Reduce or increase the size of your hook
- Hide the hook better
- Continue trying
- Use prawns, worms, or baitfish
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn how to try each of these suggestions in detail. They’re bound to help you stop fish from stealing your bait, so read on and head out with a new set of fishing skills!
9 Effective Methods to Prevent Bait Stealers While Surf Fishing
Whether you’ve dealt with bait stealers in the past or you’ve heard of all the trouble they cause, it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst. It’s often inevitable in surf fishing since there are so many varieties of fish, small and large.
However, you can use the following suggestions to deal with bait stealers so you can catch the fish you’re looking for.
1. Cast Further Out
When you’re about to cast a line out in the surf, try to throw it further out into the water. Small bait-stealing fish tend to hang around where it’s very shallow, while large fish can’t go that shallow because they’re too bulky. You won’t have to worry about small fish, who tend to be thieves more often than not.
Another reason that you should cast further out is that fish that are in shallow water tend to be the ones that are hungry. They’re looking for food wherever they can get it, and food can’t run away as easily in shallow water.
2. Catch the Thieves
According to For Shore Fishing, bringing extra bait to catch bait stealers is an excellent way to deal with them. Most fish won’t steal more food if they’re not hungry or catch them to stop them in their tracks. It’s a win-win situation, so why not give it a try next time you’re out throwing a line in the surf?
Always try to figure out what the stealing fish prefer. The best way to do this is to cast a line and see if there are any nibbles while it’s out in the water for a while.
If there are, then you know that they like it. If there aren’t, then you’re good to start fishing for other fish without being interrupted by the thieves.
3. Switch to a New Location
Changing your location can prevent fish from stealing your bait because they don’t know where you’re going. If you’re casting a line into a school of bait stealers, then moving a few hundred feet away will reset your chances and keep them out of the line of your fishing pole.
They won’t want to travel too far if they don’t know where to find you!
Even a further cast can change your chances, as mentioned above. However, schools of fish can swim and chase the bait quickly.
If you’re only dealing with a few bait stealers, then a further cast is doable. Unfortunately, schools of thieves often cause you to move your location entirely.
4. Use Fish Bites
As mentioned in the introduction, Fish Bites are some of the best tools at your disposal. They’re sticky and reusable. All you have to do is cut them down to the correct size, attach them to your hook, and start fishing. Make sure that it’s pushed back all the way down the hook so it can achieve a stronghold.
The reason that Fish Bites work so well is that they’re sticky. When a bait stealer tries to pull off the bait, they’ll get stuck on the strip long enough for the hook to set in. You’ll be able to catch them without having your bait taken.
5. Choose New Bait
Sometimes, all you can do is change your bait. When bait stealers are chasing your line wherever you cast, you’ll need to continue to figure out what they don’t like. As Florida Sportsman mentions, shrimp, sardines, and other small bait sometimes are too easy for thieves to steal off the hook without getting caught.
The good news is that different big types of bait are large enough for the fish to start biting without seeing the hook. They’ll either get caught on the line or avoid the bait entirely.
6. Switch Your Hook Size
Big hooks are too easy for small fish to steal from. They can swim around and work away at different angles, stealing your bait without you knowing. You’ll end up reeling in the line just to find that it hasn’t had bait for the past 10 minutes.
By getting a smaller hook, you’ll force them to take a big bite if they want to risk a chance at stealing your bait. This process greatly increases your chances of catching them.
7. Conceal the Hook Better
Along with the previous suggestion, concealing the hook with more bait is a great way to trick bait-stealing fish. They’ll think it’s just a big floating meal for them, but you can catch them in their tracks.
Fish can see when something looks out of place. If they see a shiny silver hook, they might not want to take a chance. Hiding it in the natural appearance of their favorite food, and no one (or fish) will be the wiser.
8. Continue Casting
Don’t give up! Bait stealers are common wherever you go, especially when you’re fishing in the surf. Either they’ll end up getting caught, or they’ll be full of all of the bait they’ve eaten if you’re persistent enough. You never know when another catchable fish is right around the corner, one castaway.
If you’re a beginner and you’re still trying to figure out how to fish in the surf, then now’s a good time to learn that you’ll always have to work around bait stealers. Once you do, you’ll have a blast every time.
9. Try Prawns, Worms, and Baitfish
Finally, try using prawns, worms, and baitfish when you’re avoiding thieves in the water. Sea Breeze points out that these types of bait are too dense to crumble apart in the water. When other loose baits start to fall apart, it’s significantly easier for fish to take them off of the hook without getting caught.
Make sure you wrap any of these types of bait around the hook a couple of times to prevent them from slipping off. Other than that, they’re excellent choices to stop bait stealers from doing what they do best.
Bait stealing is a big part of surf fishing, but it doesn’t have to be. By following the numerous helpful tips found throughout this article, you can make sure that the only fish who bite the food are ones that you catch.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- Always use bait that holds onto the hook rather than loose, crumbly bait.
- Conceal the hook to catch the fish easier.
- Use Fish Bites to make potential bait stealers get caught on the line.
- Try different hook sizes and cast further out into the water if possible.