How to Catch Shiners for bait

If you live in an area where shiners thrive then you need to learn how to catch this type of bait for your next fishing adventure. Shiners are some of the best bait you can catch, especially for Largemouth bass. There are two main types of shiners when we talk about fishing. One is the highly prized golden Shiner and the other is the more common store-purchased shiner that is very popular around bait and tackle stores. Learning how to catch shiners for bait will dramatically increase your chances of catching not just more fish, but a true monster.

So, how to catch shiners for bait? Use very small hooks in the #14 size range with light lines 4 to 6 lbs. test with small bread balls or dough balls for bait. Do not use any weights when fishing for them. Cast your bread ball out and let it slowly and naturally sink until your line starts to move off from what a shiner eats it.

How to catch shiners for bait

If you live in an area where shiners live then you can catch shiners. It’s not difficult to catch these types of bait because they typically school up and they eat well once you start to chum the water.

Catching golden shiners is easy. You need a very small hook, a light line, and some bread. You can use a very small bobber as well, but a lot of people just free-line the bread back until a bite happens.

Rod and reel method: This method is the most used and just requires a small rod and a reel with a light line in the 4 to 6 lbs test line class should work fine. Shiners have very small mouths and require a very small bait hook. Remember, with hooks the larger the number the smaller the hook. For shiner and other baitfish look for hooks sizes around #14.

Our preferred method is to just use a small hook with no weight or bobber and simply cast out a small piece of bread balled up, dough, or a small piece of the live worm will also work. When you cast out where you know shiners are simple let the bait sink naturally down without putting any tension in the line. When you see your line take off you know something, hopefully, that golden shiner has eaten it.

Cast net to catch shiner: Cast nets can be extremely efficient at catching live bait, shiners included. For this method, you can blind cast into habitats that are known to hold shiner. Or you can chum up spots by throwing in bread, oatmeal, and other food sources that shiner and small baitfish will eat.

A 5 or 6-foot cast net would be sufficient in getting shiners. Shiners by nature typically school up so it would not be uncommon to catch many in a single throw.

Bait traps: Baited bait traps can also be used to catch shiner and other small fish like minnows, brim, the likes. Bait traps work by adding bait inside the trap and placing the trap in the habitat where shiners live. Leaving the trap to soak for up to 30 min can produce large numbers of bait, including sunfish that bass also loves to eat.

Where to Golden Shiner live?

Golden shiner can be found through North America with a native range spanning into much of eastern North America. They can live in both small bodies of water like ponds and lakes and also live in larger river basins and massive lakes like Like Ocechobe.

Shines like to hold in covers like vegetation where they can hide from predator fish like Largemouth bass, perch, and almost any other larger fish that would like to make a quick meal of a shiner.

Two types of shiners you need to know about?

Golden shinner

Golden shiner is considered a minnow with golden colors scales and a small upturned mouth. These shiners can reach a maximum length of around 30 cm. They are much stronger than store-bought bread shiners. Golden shiners are responsible for some of the largest freshwater fish catches on Largemouth bass, peacock bass, and other predatory fish that live in freshwater.

Store purchased shiner

Store-bought shiners from the bait store are not as hardy as wild shiners and unlike the gold color of wild shiners, tackle store shiners are silver in color. While these shiners catch fish when used on hook and line a true golden wild shiner can’t be beaten.

What is the best bait to catch shiners on rod and reel?

Small bread balls work excellently in catching wild golden shiner. Dough balls can also work great along with very small pieces of worms. When these are put on very small hooks they become some of the best ways and methods to catch wild shiner.

In the wild shiners typically will eat small algae and animals that float within the water column they live in. They will eat larvae like nymphs from dragonflies and other small crustaceans that they can fit into their mouths when they get the opportunity.

How to keep shiners alive once you catch them

Typical of most live bait that you catch you should have a cool, well-circulated bucket if fishing from shore and a well-airrated bait well on a boat. Try not to over-pack your bucket with bait this will cause the fish to become weaker faster, die, and get banged around, and not perform as well.

Keeping an aerator on is key so enough oxygen gets into the water to keep our bait healthy. It is not a bad idea to also swap out the water with fresh water from the same lake you catch your shiner from also every once in a while.

How long will shiners stay alive in a bucket?

If you have shiners in a bucket without an aerated system they will die within 15 min, especially if it’s hot in your area. Shiners in buckets need to have an aerator that pumps oxygen into the water to live. If you keep your shiner in a cool place with the proper oxygen and you do not have them packed into a bucket you can keep them overnight without any problems.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Do not overcrowd the bucket
  • Store the bait container in a cool place and indoors if you are keeping them overnight
  • Hav an aerator in the bucket
  • Keep the water cooler by placing a few ice cubes in a ziplock bag to keep the water cooler

Store-bought shiners need to be acclimated before using

Store bout shiner is kept in very cold water and for those that have purchased store shiner you know what we are talking about. The water is ice-cold to keep those shiners alive in the tank until they are purchased. If you take a shiner out of the cold water and fish with that bait in much hotter water the fish go into shock and belly up and sink.

To get around this you should plan on acclimating the shiner by adding in lake water slowly until you bring up the temperate of the bait bucket water. Or you can purchase shiner a day in advance and bring them indoors overnight and the temperate will naturally and slowly come up.

Final thoughts on catching shiner

If you catch your own wild shiner you are really enhancing your chance of catching a real giant. Golden wild shiner is some of the best bait you can get when it comes to fishing in rivers and lakes and almost every predatory fish will eat them.

Cathing shiners are easy and almost anyone can do it. Remember to scale down your hooks, line, and use tiny bread or dough balls as bait once you locate the shiner and you shouldn’t have any issues catching enough to fish.

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