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Something that I thought about while my mind was wondering when fishing.
I'm talking Drum fishing. How fresh does mullet need to be to be fresh? You go in the local B&T and there's "fresh mullet" in the cooler. How fresh is it? Who knows, I certainly don't, it smells like mullet, lol Then on the other hand I know some guys try to catch their mullet every day.

So How fresh does your bait need to be to catch drum?
 

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Your bait can never be to fresh, if your buying bait make sure the eyes are clear not cloudy and the gills are red not brown.
 

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Your bait can never be to fresh, if your buying bait make sure the eyes are clear not cloudy and the gills are red not brown.
As stated above. I also have a dedicated bait cooler with a drain. I layer my bait and ice so the melt will flow down and not have your bait sit in water.
 

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I know that everyone preaches fresh fresh fresh. Inherently that is going to increase your odds and I try to use the freshest I can get my hands on. With that being said, I did catch a citation in 2014 on 5 day old soggy mullet. Sometimes you just have to use what you have but at the same time don't be lazy and not try to net or catch fresh bait in lieu of using what you already have in the cooler.
 

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Being fresh doesn't always work except bluefish heads that's always a hit for me. But If you let bunker sit outside in a container in the heat for a few days before fishing it will stink up a storm. Old stinky bait will attract hungry fish.
 

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marv ...thats funny... Now having been in the business on both sides may i explain the term "FRESH". At the counter at a fish store or market the product can legally be termed "FRESH" if it has never been FROZEN . The term "IQF" means individually quick frozen. That said, a shrimp that is IQF will ae a better product than one that is head-on and been sitting in a fish case on display after it has spent time on a boat,iced,handeled at the dealers by sorting and boxing, transportation time ,in ice, unloaded at the marked ,washed and then put on the counter. I'll take the iqf then thaw and salt them to make them stay on the hook better.
 

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Being fresh doesn't always work except bluefish heads that's always a hit for me. But If you let bunker sit outside in a container in the heat for a few days before fishing it will stink up a storm. Old stinky bait will attract hungry fish.
What are you targeting with rotten fatback? Crabs? Lizardfish?

I was fishing a pier once when the big Drum were all over schools of Fatback and the Drum had a big school of fatback pined to the pier.

A certain fella from Florida continued to bomb his cob head as far as he could off the end of the tee, there were four fellas hooked up to Drum casting off the side into the fatback, including that fella who targets the Hot Ditch in winter...

I snagged a Fatback and cut its tail off, hooked it thru the nose with a 9/0 92553 and lobbed it softly back into the school of fatties about twenty yards off the tee to let him swim for a bit:rolleyes:

Who bowed up first the part-time fisherman full-time trash-talker fella from California or the well known Drum pro from Florida?


Well that live fatback started screaming off line and the clicker was blazing in about three minutes of dunking him into the impact zone...ten minutes after I decked the Drum, I was trying to snag me another fresh fattie, when lo and behold.......I snag me a full grown Drum on #6 4X Eagle Claw trebles and a 5500 Abu loaded with 12 pound test, right next to the pilings......................Fight lasted around ten minutes until all I had left was one big Drum scale dangling one of my trebles............however I had some magnificent trash talking going on especially every time the Drum started peeling line off my 5500....of all the fish I have lost over the years I remember that day vividly, in fact I remember vividly losing a monster Cobia that hit a center section of fresh jumping mullet one cloudy May morning May 1995 Rodanthe Pier.....a jumping mullet that had been in a Rodanthe Midgett's net that very dawn............

If you have better bait than the next fella, you are going be more successful 99/100 days if all other factors are equal:)

In Drum fishing For every story of someone landing a big one on rotten bait, there are many more when you have the good bait....The first day I set foot on LIP I had driven up from OBX where the Drum had not arrived yet (too early it was first week of October) that morning I cast-netted a cooler full of Cob mullet at Oregon Inlet and made the run into Virginia.

At LIP I broke a Drum off around 5:30 PM by putting too much pressure on him, a local VA Beach fella caught a nice Drum around 6:00 PM.....from Dark until closing at 10:00 PM there were around twenty of us casting for Drum..........a total of five more Drum were taken that night............
every one of those Drum hit fresh cobb mullet from Oregon Inlet...............Local VA boys were all fishing spot heads.........I had to limit my trash talking that night as I was outnumbered 19 to one:) but it sure was fun hearing a SL30SH go off and everyone yelling whose rod? Whose rod? and I got to reply ..............that's my rod...Thank you....:)
 

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Being fresh doesn't always work except bluefish heads that's always a hit for me. But If you let bunker sit outside in a container in the heat for a few days before fishing it will stink up a storm. Old stinky bait will attract hungry fish.
Gonna have to totally disagree with that statement sorry, nothing beats fresh caught bait
 

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Being fresh doesn't always work except bluefish heads that's always a hit for me. But If you let bunker sit outside in a container in the heat for a few days before fishing it will stink up a storm. Old stinky bait will attract hungry fish.
Seriously Dude !!! Did you just say that ???

Stinky bait might work for catfish in a river or lake, but not on anything I fish for in saltwater.

Where do these people come from???

On another note,

I did catch a 46 inch drum last week on a spot head that was a week old.

I salted it, the day it was caught, kept it on ice and then vacuum sealed it the day I took it and a few more fishing. It looked like it was just removed from its body when I put it on. An hour or so later hooked a 40 inch drum on another one that I let a kid (teen) have. It was his first drum.

Salting and brining works for sure.

I will still take FRESH over anything else any day!

You can keep your STINKY BAIT!
 

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I caught my first 40"+ red off the LIP on a piece of frozen finger mullet that had been thawed, then refrozen, then thawed again. It was on a little 9' spinner I flipped off the side to try and catch blues. But that's the biggest exception of my entire fishing life. Every single time I've watched the guy with fresh bait outfish everyone else: the distance casters, the guys with better reels, the guys with brand new hooks, the guys who could read a beach like a book.

When you're talking about picking it out of a bait cooler, give it a squeeze. If it's firm as a hot dog it's ready to go. If it feels mushy and doesn't spring back it's got about a day left in it. Keep your castnet handy and your bluefish rig at the ready at all times. I don't have half the drum experience of many of the guys on here but it's always the single biggest determinant.
 

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Everything in the ocean will get eaten... the big thing about fresh bait is it will still be on your hook when it gets eaten. Good luck keeping that old sit outside in a container bunker on your hook, you would be lucky to keep it on your hook till it hits the water if you are any kind of a caster. Fresh as you can get is the ticket
 

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Maybe it was just ocean east but used the so called fresh mullet 5lb bag. Had it soaking at CBBT for well over 3 hours got no nibble not even on crabs. But my older mullet that sat outside in a container for 2 days got immediate hit from bluefish. But the best bait of course is live bait like fresh caught croakers and those are my favorite especially at the T Sections. I'm still trying to figure out why roundheads don't get as many hits as croakers or spot as live bait.
 

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What are you targeting with rotten fatback? Crabs? Lizardfish?

I was fishing a pier once when the big Drum were all over schools of Fatback and the Drum had a big school of fatback pined to the pier.

A certain fella from Florida continued to bomb his cob head as far as he could off the end of the tee, there were four fellas hooked up to Drum casting off the side into the fatback, including that fella who targets the Hot Ditch in winter...

I snagged a Fatback and cut its tail off, hooked it thru the nose with a 9/0 92553 and lobbed it softly back into the school of fatties about twenty yards off the tee to let him swim for a bit:rolleyes:

Who bowed up first the part-time fisherman full-time trash-talker fella from California or the well known Drum pro from Florida?


Well that live fatback started screaming off line and the clicker was blazing in about three minutes of dunking him into the impact zone...ten minutes after I decked the Drum, I was trying to snag me another fresh fattie, when lo and behold.......I snag me a full grown Drum on #6 4X Eagle Claw trebles and a 5500 Abu loaded with 12 pound test, right next to the pilings......................Fight lasted around ten minutes until all I had left was one big Drum scale dangling one of my trebles............however I had some magnificent trash talking going on especially every time the Drum started peeling line off my 5500....of all the fish I have lost over the years I remember that day vividly, in fact I remember vividly losing a monster Cobia that hit a center section of fresh jumping mullet one cloudy May morning May 1995 Rodanthe Pier.....a jumping mullet that had been in a Rodanthe Midgett's net that very dawn............

If you have better bait than the next fella, you are going be more successful 99/100 days if all other factors are equal:)

In Drum fishing For every story of someone landing a big one on rotten bait, there are many more when you have the good bait....The first day I set foot on LIP I had driven up from OBX where the Drum had not arrived yet (too early it was first week of October) that morning I cast-netted a cooler full of Cob mullet at Oregon Inlet and made the run into Virginia.

At LIP I broke a Drum off around 5:30 PM by putting too much pressure on him, a local VA Beach fella caught a nice Drum around 6:00 PM.....from Dark until closing at 10:00 PM there were around twenty of us casting for Drum..........a total of five more Drum were taken that night............
every one of those Drum hit fresh cobb mullet from Oregon Inlet...............Local VA boys were all fishing spot heads.........I had to limit my trash talking that night as I was outnumbered 19 to one:) but it sure was fun hearing a SL30SH go off and everyone yelling whose rod? Whose rod? and I got to reply ..............that's my rod...Thank you....:)
Not as good a writer or story teller as you,but will point out the opposing view here in a couple of my encounters..

Avon Pier is the setting for both of these.. Was fishing avon and EVERYONE had fresh mullet,direct from Va Beach as well as some caught in the creeks here.. All I had were frozen cobs.. After catching 4 with no one else even having a bump it sold me on the fact that SOMETIMES frozen is better.. Caught PLENTY on frozen cobs since.. I still have fresh in the cooler most of the time,but ALWAYS (if I have them) have a frozen freezer bag with some cob heads in there.. They work,trust me on that...

One November I was on Avon it was closed and a few of us slipped out there early that morning. This was back when they had the walkway around the pierhouse.. All I had that morning was old limp fatback.. I threw one and immediately caught a skate.. Well,same guy as you were talking from FLA came up to me and said "Kenny this is the last go round,so here they are".. He dumped his cooler out on the deck with about 20 or so cloudy eyed cobs.. He said they had been on ice,but were 3wks old. Figured heads would hold up better than that soft fatback I had,so I threw one.. You got it,INSTANT DRUM.. During this time Frank jr and the FLA gentleman's twin brother came out there.. Frank grabbed one of the cobs that had been laid on the deck and he also INSTANTLY had a drum on.. Well,the twin brother had fatback so hard you could drive nails with them. He commenced to cutting off a nice fresh piece with blood dripping out of it and cast it.. Well,it was one of those "no stop" sharks.. He rerigged and threw another,same deal.. While he sat there rerigging time and time again,his brother and I were doing work.. By the time I left to get to work it was 9:30 and I had landed 4,his brother had caught two,called me at work when he caught his forth.. :D Don't know what it was that day,but the drum wanted mullet heads that had a little stench to them... :D
 

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even with catfish (quality size ones) fresh will outfish stinky, give me fresh cut gizzard or threadfin shad (just netted and chunked) over any other bait...

almost never fish a bait that wasn't alive within the past hour...if no fleas or netted mullet will uce fresh caught/iced shrimp, mullet, or fishbites for the small stuff. just my 2c
 

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I remember back around 2003 or so we played bumper trucks and almost fought Civil War II down at Frank'n Frans just because one of his suppliers showed up with one cooler full of...............................butterfly fish. Only fresh bait on the whole island. Nobody was catching because everybody was hanging out at their favorite tackle shop.............just hoping for some fresh bait..............and I mean ANYTHING FRESH.
 

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I remember back around 2003 or so we played bumper trucks and almost fought Civil War II down at Frank'n Frans just because one of his suppliers showed up with one cooler full of...............................butterfly fish. Only fresh bait on the whole island. Nobody was catching because everybody was hanging out at their favorite tackle shop.............just hoping for some fresh bait..............and I mean ANYTHING FRESH.
And they want to end Commercial Gill net fishery in NC

What will the off Island recs use for Drum Bait when they get there way?
 
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