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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got back from Union Beach.Bunker and small striper action.The challenge is WORMS.I'm using #1 hooks and after a few casts they fall apart and get lost.What am I doing wrong or is the nature of the bait.Also with catch and release, is it best to cut the line and leave the hook in place.Last what is the proper name for bunkers
 

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Worms can be difficult. They fall off the hook, small fish and crabs steal them. Try using hooks with bait savers. They have small barbs on the opposite side of the hook. They do work. Also make sure your worms are fresh and lively! They will hold up better.
Bunker is also known as menhaden.

Personally I don't like leaving a hook inside a fish unless it is "Gut Hooked" the mortality is very high. If you can remove a hook quickly and safely then do so. Never use stainless hooks when fishing. They do not disolve and they will eventually kill the fish. Try using the new circle hooks.
Tag & Release
Tiderunner
 

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I'm not really crazy with the idea of using bait while "catch and release" fishing. If you're gut hooking fish, it's likely that those fish will die. Use lures or larger bait (if you must use bait) to avoid this; especially during the closed season on small school bass. A few years ago I fished a catch and release river in Connecticut where live bait was allowed. I saw several gut hooked trout released "dead." One of these was a nice 18" brown trout. It just doesn't seem right to take the chance of injuring these fish.
 

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Like Tiderunner said. Use circle hooks. Using circle hooks will help make "catch and release" easier. I find circle hooks will hook the fish on the mouth 70% of the time not 90%. The manufacturers lied! But at least it will make you and the fish feel better.

If you are not using circle hooks, break the barb so unhooking will be easy.

About hooking whole worms, I used 2 circle hooks for them. The first one is bigger than the end hook.
Dont cast so hard. Wind and casting force will break your worm.
 

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Hey there,
I bait fish clams and worms all the time from the surf and what I see a great deal of is fisherman leaving their rods in a sand spike and letting the fish do all the work. This is almost a sure way to gut hook a fish. I always hold the rod with tension on the line and set the hook as soon as I feel a bite. I might lose some fish because they haven't had a chance to get a good grab on the bait but I have never gutted a fish this way.
 

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Gus hit the nail on the head - it's not bait fishing that causes gut hooked fish, it's putting the rod in the spike. Keep in contact with your bait & strike at the first rap - with a quick hand the chances of deep hooking a fish are small.

Stephen Byrne
NY Bight Editor
Nor'east Saltwater
 
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