Capt. Art's Blog

Keeping up with Searcher

Ask A Captain week 7 answers – Get Hooked on Bait


Our Searcher captains know that bait quality is one of the most important variables in fishing success.  Recently I interviewed Captain Art Taylor and got “the scoop” on bait!  He made it clear that “baiting up” at the barge is not just another routine stop.  It’s another aspect of fishing our captains are serious about. They apply their specific know-how and experience to all bait-related responsibilities.  Bait can make or break a trip, and our captains do everything possible to ensure your bait is top-quality while you are on Searcher’s deck.


I asked Captain Art, “Why is bait so important?”

Southern California sportfishing is unique because it is primarily live bait fishing. If you’ve gone fishing in East Cape, Cabo, Hawaii, Florida:  you won’t see boats filling tanks with live bait, the bait is sold by each individual fish. Our local fleet is fortunate to have Everingham Brothers Bait Co. as the provider of quality bait for our trips.  We are proud to work with with this family-owned company. (You can read more about their history here.)

From Everingham’s bait receivers, we primarily get sardines though anchovies and small mackerel are possible too.  We have five tanks to fill on Searcher: three deck boxes and two wells, which hold 250 scoops of bait. We monitor the bait throughout each trip: checking the health of the bait, how they have acclimated, feeding them, watching water flow in the tanks, etc. There is a whole process involved with bait management that may not be obvious to our passengers – but it is very important and we take it very seriously.


“What should I look for when selecting live bait?” – B.C.

Look for a bait that is exhibiting normal behavior–like swimming together with the others in a ball and not touching the sides of the box. Look out for scale loss (bait will look red) and scabs (white spots). A healthy bait will have a good covering of slime which will help it move through the water.

“Do you see people catch more fish using bait or using lures? What is the best bait tip you have?” – D.O.

Thanks for a great question. The best advice is to pay attention to current conditions and react accordingly. Our crew makes sure everyone on deck knows what methods are successful, often on a moment-by-moment basis.  Regarding live bait vs. lures…what I notice lately is the success of a flat-fall lure when fishing before daylight, and live bait otherwise.

I didn’t know there were so many ways to put bait on a hook!  Anglers have been filling the “Ask A Captain!” inbox with questions about which end to hook. Captain Art had some thoughts to share for all who have been wondering about nose vs. butt-hooked bait.

Nose hooking (putting the hook laterally through the nostrils of the bait) is good for conditions where you want the bait fish to stay closer to the surface.  In contrast, a butt-hooked bait will dive deeper. Again, I’d say the best thing you can do is listen to the crew to find out what is working in your specific conditions.  Every stop is different.

“What is the best way to fish poor weak bait?” – Reg Ikebe

“I’d try a nose hook with a sinker, to help it to get deeper into the bite zone. Hopefully the next time you fish, you’ll have quality bait and your crew will have good bait-management skills so you won’t have to worry about this problem.”

Wow, so much to find out about bait! This “new fish”  just keeps learning! Thanks to our Searcher friends for your questions! Special thanks to Captain Art for taking the time to share his knowledge with all of us this week. I hope our readers will get the opportunity to get to know our Searcher captains in person – by grabbing a spot at the Searcher rail before the season ends!

Here’s the last word on bait from Captain Art:

Keep a fresh bait on at all times! If you are at a long stop, make sure you are changing your bait regularly – don’t keep one on longer than 5 minutes.

Don’t forget to “Ask A Captain!” 

Each individual who submits a question to our Searcher captains will be entered into a monthly drawing for a FREE tackle swag bag, courtesy of our generous sponsors. The next prize drawing will be held September 30!

Submit your question via email to with “Ask A Captain!” in the subject line.  I’ll hunt down answers from our captains and post for all to see. Selected questions and answers will be posted every week on and Facebook.  We are also still collecting fishing slang terms not listed in our Week 5 challenge!

What are you waiting for?  Send in your question!  Good luck!



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