How To Catch Pilchards - A Fisherman's Most Beloved Live Bait

Author: Captain Michael Grimm | Posted: 09/08/2018

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Pilchards are a favorite by anglers all across the world.  In Miami, they are especially favored as pelagics absolutely love them.  They are hardy and strong baits.  Whether freelining, deep baits or kite fishing - pilchards will get the job done and you will outfish those without them.

But catching them is easy to some and difficult to most.   

Let's start with the gear:

The biggest problem I see with those trying to become better bait fisherman is that they use gear too heavy.  They are using 20 pound outfits with big leader and big hooks.   That stuff has no place in live bait fishing.

Pull out your light tackle rods such as 8-15 pound along with 8 pound mono spooled on a small 4000 reel.  You need some flex as you are going to be jigging and popping that rod tip.

Apply a sabiki in a size 4 o 6 depending on how big the baits are.  You'll figure it out pretty quick by simply looking into the water with good polarized sunglasses or catching a few.  If you are losing more than you are catching, then most likely you need to scale down.   I usually have 2 bait rods with one rigged with size 4 and the other size 6 to see what is performing best.


Inlets, grass flats, tide rips and stuctures are always your best bet. However you NEED to find the birds if you want to be successful faster.  I'm always looking for diving pelicans, frigates or sea gulls to give away the location of the bait.  If the area is surrounded by birds, then I'll drop anchor and chum.


Once you have a good chum line going, you'll want to cast your sabiki rig away from the boat about 15 yards.  The pilchards rarely come right up to the chum.  The mangrove snapper and ballyhoo are a bit more curious so the pilchards stay right behind them.

Don't Touch Them!

Use a dehooker to take your baits off the hooks.  It is a bit of an aquired skill, but watch the video and you'll see how easy it is. Simply place the dehooker on the gold hook and lift up.  Sometimes you need to shake it a bit.

Pilchards are the perfect bait for mahi, kingfish, wahoo, tuna, sailfish, marlin and more! There is not much off the coast of Florida that will refuse a beautiful healthy pilchard.

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About The Author: Captain Michael Grimm

Company: SFC Design Group

Area Reporting: South Florida

Bio: Avid fisherman and digital marketing expert for fishing guides. I occasionally run a charter, but my priority is helping everyone become better fisherman and better small business digital marketing experts. Sharing fishing knowledge to the moon.

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