Many saltwater species, especially swordfish, marlin, and sailfish, love to feed off of large, dense schools of fish, often refereed to as bait pods. These bait pods can contain thousands and even millions of little morsels, giving the predators a chance to eat their fill in one sitting.
These bait pods are magnets for activity, and seeing predators, including fish and birds, pick apart a pod is one of the most impressive sights in the water.
When predators find schools of baitfish, they will try to eat as many as they can. However, because of schooling instincts and quick reflexes, catching a single fish can often be a challenge. Fortunately for the predators, they have developed some interesting ways of picking apart the pod.
Let’s look at the sailfish as an example. Sailfish have unique physical adaptations and behaviors that make them a prime menace for bait pods. Sailfish travel in groups, and they use their numbers to drive a school upwards, where the surface acts as a barrier. The large “sail” on the back of the fish is used to corral schools in a specific direction. Once the pod is in place, sailfish slash through the dense mass of fish, using their long bill to injure and disorient the fish.
The sailfish will the pick off the lone stragglers, slowly and steadily eliminating the pod until there is nothing left.
There are many ways that you can improve your catch near bait pods. One of the most effective ways is to employ a large dredge, similar to an “Alabama umbrella” used in bass fishing.
These rigs use stiff wires branching off of a single line, each with decoy bait swimming on the end. Trolling these artificial schools behind a boat, you will attract predators like sailfish. What you need to actually catch the prize, however, is a straggler. Behind the dredge, trail a single swim lure. This will mimic a single fish separated from the school; the one that sailfish are looking for. It should land a strike from a hungry, aggressive sailfish.
It sounds fun, but one of the biggest challenges you will have is actually finding the bait pods. Your best indicator will be birds. If you see your feathered friends diving into the water, it’s a safe bet that a pod is nearby. You may also see fins from sailfish or marlin breaking the surface.
While it can be difficult to spot bait pods without the help of other animals, you should keep your eye out for a shiny, metallic color in the water. Bait pods will be darker in tone, and an experienced eye will be able to find them quickly. If you see the fins of sailfish cutting the surface, you know you’re in the right spot!
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Kyle Alsop and Taylor Bivins of Kansas State University are the winners of the 2016 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, thanks to a series of consistent weights. They finished the tournament on Kentucky's Green River Lake with 36 pounds, 4 ounces.
The Kansas State team was the only one in the field of 89 teams to bring in more than 10 pounds every day.
You often hear the phrase there is nothing more important than a friend but like many other clichés of life especially at today’s pace, many of these old time sayings are said without really understanding their meaning. As I look back at the past five decades of my life spent in blue water and at my hunting career which has taken me all over the globe, I lift both hands in front of me and start counting off the friends which I could call at any time day or night for help; those who would put their life in jeopardy to save mine, or for that matter those who I can count on in the absolute worst of situations.
America (and much of the globe) seems to have an obsession with billfish, but few species are as popular as the Atlantic blue marlin. Not that there is anything wrong with black marlin, sailfish, swordfish, or striped marlin; it’s just that the blue marlin, which is the largest of the billfish group, has captured the hearts and passions of anglers for centuries.
If you want to join the ranks of anglers who’ve pulled up a blue marlin, you have your work cut out for you. But with the right techniques, you can add this world-class trophy to your list.