Catching Shiners

Catching Shiners

Shiner fishing for trophy bass is one of the sport's most exciting and effective techniques. According to top Florida guides, at least 90 percent of the state's 10-pounders are taken on these frisky livebaits.

The golden shiner is the primary forage of largemouth in Florida and in many parts of the continent. These baitfish inhabit a huge range from central Manitoba, throughout the East Coast and west to Texas. They've also been introduced as far west as California. Wherever they're found in good numbers big bass will target shiners, selecting them over crayfish, shad, bluegills, or other common prey.

These large members of the minnow family commonly reach 10 inches and occasionally approach 12 inches and a pound in weight. Now that's a meal for a monster bass. Fishing with live shiners is fun, too. There's the fascination of fishing floats--watching marauding bass chase your baits to the surface, then watching the float descend before rearing back for a hookset.

Catching bait can also be a blast. In fact, guides often chuckle when they have to urge their clients to quit fishing for bait and start rigging for the big bass they've traveled to Florida to catch. Catching bait is fun, whether you're after golden shiners in Massachusetts or Florida, or goldeyes in Minnesota. Catching your own saves big bucks, as wild shiners typically cost around $14 a dozen. And you can expect to go through six-dozen in the course of a day, if the bite is on.



Rigging To Catch Shiners

Though large of body, shiners have tiny mouths, so appropriate hooks are in the #10 to #14 range. Treble hooks hold bait on the hook well, and their small barbs don't injure valuable baits. Golden shiners have an opportunistic diet, taking zooplankton, larval insects, fragments of plants, and filamentous algae that often grows on plants or rocks. Occasionally, they eat small minnows.

Chumming with oatmeal, casting the flakes over shallow, weedy flats will bring schools of shiners into the area and get them feeding. Then, impaling several oatmeal flakes on a tiny hook, or balling bread around the tines of the treble hook is the basis of shiner fishing. One or two tiny split shot complete the rig. Small pieces of earthworm work, too. Shiners can also be caught on tiny marabou crappie jigs, in the 1/32-ounce range.

When a good school is assembled and rolling the surface as they feed, a long fiberglass or cane pole is the most effective setup. Lower your bait, holding it near the surface until a shiner bites, then unceremoniously hoist it in. Carefully unhook your shiner, holding it firmly but without squeezing, then place it in your aerated or oxygenated shiner tank.


For maximum fun, try true ultralight tackle for shiner fishing (or should we say catching). A 4-1/2- to 5-1/2-foot limber rod and micro reel spooled with 2-pound test means a battle from bigger shiners. At times, too, the weblike line will get more bites than the 10-pound mono usually used on poles.

If you're eager to hook a big bass, catching shiners with a cast net is easier and more efficient (if you know how to throw a net). If you want a laugh, hand a novice a cast net and observe the action.

After catching your shiners, it's best to condition them before using them to catch bass. Additives are available that quickly relieve stress and keep shiners frisky. Large round tanks with bottled oxygen systems are the best way to keep shiners long-term. In the boat, a large cooler with an aerator works well for a day's fishing. In summer, regularly adding a small amount of ice helps keep shiners fresh.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Simms

Simms' Challenger Raingear

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products details the warm and dry features found in the new Challenger raingear being brought to market by the Bozeman, Mont. company.

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

Selective Harvest Yellow Bass

In order to sustain good fishing, it's important to understand which to release and fish you should for a fine meal.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth measurements. Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a powerplant that best fits your personal needs and preferences. Boats & Motors

2- Vs. 4-Cycle Outboard Motors

Dan Johnson - April 16, 2018

Now more than ever, understanding each category's strong suits is critical to choosing a...

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options. Carp

10 Best Carp Baits Available Today

Dan Johnson

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

See More Trending Articles

More Other Fish

Making time for suckers. Other Fish

This First Rite of Spring, This Sweet Sucker Fishing Thing

Doug Stange - March 05, 2014

Making time for suckers.

Whitefish are one of the biggest, hardest-fighting, most plentiful, nutritious, and delicious. Other Fish

Ice Fishing Whitefish

Gord Pyzer - December 03, 2015

Whitefish are one of the biggest, hardest-fighting, most plentiful, nutritious, and delicious.

Here's some excellent material on fishing for gar. Other Fish

Gar Fishing Methods and Tips

John Gaulke - January 14, 2016

Here's some excellent material on fishing for gar.

A trophy alligator gar may live to be 50 to 80 years old and yet spawn only a handful of times in its lifetime. Other Fish

Going for Gator Gar

Steve Ryan - May 03, 2020

A trophy alligator gar may live to be 50 to 80 years old and yet spawn only a handful of times...

See More Other Fish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now