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OK I know your all tired of the questions from the newbs, but my friend, the search button, is a coming up a little short. Down fishing the Alabama Gulf Coast, I seem to be ably to catch the ladyfish by the dozens some days and buying bait can be expensive. So after searching google the ladyfish apparently make some good redfish bait, and possibly for many many other fish. So I'm hoping for some advice on cutting the bait. I love to fish for redfish (and drum) , specks, blues, pompano and whatever else I may catch down here.

SO a couple things I'm looking to have clarified. When some is saying they steak the fish, are the cutting whole chunks all the way through the fish or just fillets? Or possibly for the smaller softer fish just cutting all the way through it.

Also, it looks like most cut around the organs, and tail and discard those. For the head do you fish with the whole head? That's what I'm assuming.

As for live bait fish, I usually use live shrimp but would like to expand for some bigger fish. Seems like most bait shops sell bull minnows down here, those good? I'd assume hooking these through the jaw out the eye socket or just right through the lips.

I also know your supposed to match hook size with bait, I've for the most part always used a #4 Kahle hook and it works really well, but for cut bait I have some #4 circles and will probably get some bigger #6 or #7 circle. What do you guys use. I also hear 8nBait as the standard but assuming most use no larger than a #50 shocker, would 4-5oz be sufficient?

My gear: 12' Ugly Stick, Shimano Baitrunner 6500b using 20# main, 50# ande shock, fishfinder rig with 4-5oz pyramid. Or 10' beachrunner, Shimano sedona with 16# main, 50# shock, fishfinder rig usually 4oz.

Sorry for making you read a book but I figure it will give you the best idea of my setup. Thanks for all the help!
Cheers! :beer:
 

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It's late so I'm going to give the short version.

Steaking to me has always meant what we call down south plugs. That is an entire section cut through from top/dorsal to bottom. I always cut them through the meat section first (no organs). That seems to work best for what I fish for down here in Florida. Snappers and groupers.

Now as far as heads and tails go, well, that is pretty much as it seems.

Tails are great bait for tarpon and redfish. Heads for just about anything.

You'd be surprised at what will hit cut bait at the right time of the year and conditions in just about any region.

Even big trophy snook will hit cut ladyfish on the flats of Florida at the right time of year during the right conditions.

Never, ever, discount cut bait!!
 

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I caught a nice 5' blacktip and a 24" snook a few weeks back just off Sanibel Island using cut ladyfish. Never caught a lady fish before (not up here) and they were a blast themselves. I hear the are referred to as the poor man's tarpon. Works for me!
 

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SnookMook is right on with the terminology as I've understood it as well.. keep in mind, terminology does at times vary from region to region.

Steaking is like this:


There are many ways to hook a head... the reasons to use one over the other are many... Some go through the jaw and out the top of the head (the bony portion will help hold it on)


While others go through the eyes (in one eye and out the other)... this will give your bait more action in turbulent waters or current but will not last as long (especially in turbulent water or current)

Honestly, I don't discard any part of the cut bait... maybe this is wrong, but I've always just left it whole, cut it, and hooked it paying no attention to the entrails. They won't last long any way... usually fall out during the cast.

Hooks generally have to match the bait... the bigger the bait, the bigger the hook... you'll have to experiement with the size of your bait fish to see what hook works best. The sinker needs to be able to hold bottom, so if you can hold bottom with 4-5oz then that's all you need. IF you hare having trouble drifting, try sputnik type sinkers (as opposed to going larger.)
But if you DO go up in sinker size match your shock leader to your sinker (10lbs of test to each Oz of sinker weight if your a decent caster... if you "lob" you may get away with less test but why risk it?)

Hope some of this helps... and some might come in and correct me or elaborate as needed.. this is just how I fish (which doesn't mean it's right HA HA)
 

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One thing to keep in mind when using circles is to make sure the gap of the hook is unobstructed by the bait. If the flesh of the chunk fills up the gap, it's very hard for the point to catch the fish's mouth.
 
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