First the size. THe size cast net you use should be what you are comfortable with. A 3 or 4 foot radius net is a good one for beginners to start out on, for minnows and shrimp go with either a 3/8 or 1/4 inch mesh size. You throw at schools of baitfish. Often in the surf you will actually see the individual fish schools running the waves, especially if you have a good pair of polarized sunglasses, but sometimes you just see a section of water where it looks like it is raining, but it isn't really, that is the school of baitfish. To catch shrimp in back creeks you can go hit or miss by just throwing and letting you net sink to the bottome, but you have to be careful where you throw because oyster shells will destroy a net. You can also take a can of cat or dog food with holes punched in and suspend it from a dock or a pole driven in the mud and come back in few hours. Throw the net near the can and you should get plenty of live shrimp, which is a great bait in creeks and from the pier. The best thing to keep live bait in is a plastic bucket with a lid on it and a good aerator like a Bubble Box. Laws differ from place to place, so you have to check with the regs wherever you are going.
I started out throwing a 6' net and had no problems throwing it. For shrimp and little baitfish, use a 1/4 size mesh-- the 1/4 mesh doesn't allow the bait to gill itslef in the net as easy. If you are a king fisherman or use big bait, use 1/2 mesh because it sinks much faster than 3/8. For what to throw to, look for dark spots that could be schools of fish. Shrimp are pretty much a hit and miss bait to throw for unless you know of 'honey holes' for shrimp or use some kind of chum to attract them. For menhaden, sometimes they swim on the bottom and it will look like a mud slick thats moving that your throwing at. If the menhaden aren't swimming on the bottom, believe me, you will know if they are coming, because it will look at sound likes it raining in the place the school is at because they pop and splash on the surface. Mullet usually jump so if mullet are in the area, and feeding, you will know what to throw for. Bluefish are like menhaden on the surface as I mention earlier. Like bluerunner said, a Bubble Box is the best thing to store bait in. The laws also vary for different areas, so check with someone before throwing.
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