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Bonito - Euthynnus Alletteratus A.K.A. "little tuny"

This voracious predator is ubiquitous throughout the GOM.  Used extensively as bait either as cut bait or live. It has little food value due to its dark red flesh. Large school are found nearshore and offshore.

Cigar Minnow - Decapterus punctatus

Also called round scad.  The cigar minnow is closely related to the goggle-eye famous as sailfish bait in South Florida.  Found throughout the Gulf it is often found nearshore around structure particularly in the summer months.  Often available frozen in tackle stores, live cigar minnows are arguably the very best live bait and can be caught on sabiki rigs.

Scaled Sardine - Harengula Jaguana

Commonly called white bait, pilchard, or greenbacks.  These abundant smaller baitfish are locally called “LY’s”.  Typically not available in tackle stores they can be harvested using cast nets and sabiki rigs.  The true “alewive” is a northern herring species and is unrelated to the scaled sardine.  Along with the cigar minnow this is the most common live bait we use.


Striped mullet a.k.a grey or black mullet are vegetarian filter feeders that make up a very important place in the food chain.  “Finger” mullet are excellent bait for many inshore and offshore species.  they are excellent eats when prepared fresh and mullet roe is of considerable commercial importance.  Five other mullet species are found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf Menhaden - Brevoortia patronus

Known locally as “pogies” these filter feeder’s often form large schools in bays and nearshore as well.  They are excellent bait for most game species.

Pinfish - Lagodon rhomboides

This fish is truly plentiful inshore with larger individuals occasionally caught offshore.  They are usually caught on hook and line and in traps.  They make excellent bait for grouper and snapper.

Squid: Loligo opalescens | Illex illecebrosus | Illex argentinus | Dosidicus gigas – Humboldt squid

Currently no viable directed fisheru for squid exists in the Gulf of Mexico.  We currently use squid as one of our primary bait sources.  There are 4 main squid species in the GOM.  The longfin, giant fin, long arm, and the brief squid are common at various depths and most often caught in shrimp trawls.

Threadfin Herring - Opisthonema Oglinum

The largest of the bait species Threadfins are caught on sabiki rigs and make excellent bait

Atlantic Bumper - Chloroscombrus chrysurus

A.K.A. “Crazy Fish”

Locallly called crazy fish the Atlantic Bumper has become much more common in our area in the last decade.  They are easily caught on sabiki rigs but should be handled carefully, because of a sharp spine on their belly.

Blue Runner - Caranx crysos

A.K.A. “Hardtail”

Known in the Northern Gulf as “hardtails.”  This abundant small jack is outstanding bait for big Snapper, Amberjack, and Grouper. We typically use larger individuals for Yellowfin Tuna and Marlin.  Larger schools are often found around oil rigs off the Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana coast.

Atlantic Chub Mackeral- Scomber colias

A.K.A.  “tinker mackerel”

Larger schools of the smaller mackeral are caught in very deep [400-600ft] water on sabikis.  Nearshore we often catch smaller mackerel we call speedos.  I suspect but am not certain these are juvenile Atlantic Chub Mackerel

Spanish Sardine - Sardinella aurita

Often mixed with cigar minnows we call these true herring.  They are not really as hardy as cigar minnows but do make excellent live bait and are usually caught on sabiki rigs.

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