Fishing with live shrimp ranks extremely high on the menu for many popular inshore species, such as Speckled Trout, Redfish and Flounder. Suspending your shrimp under a popping cork, wanting more distance out of your cast, can this be done using the same rig as for free-lining? Follow along as we discuss various rigging methods that can be used when using live shrimp for bait.
When casting distance is important, as it can be when trying to bait a cruising fish, it's best to hook the shrimp through the tail. This will place the heavier head section forward while reducing the chances of the shrimp tearing off on the cast. Also, removing the shrimp's tail fan will emit a scent that attracts fish. A bait-holder style hook will help prevent the shrimp from sliding off the hook. There are 2 hook exit methods to accomplish this task.
If you intend to drift your shrimp in the current suspended below a popping cork, you'll want to take advantage of its natural swimming action. The best way to do this is to hook the shrimp through its carapace. However, it is important to avoid the shrimp's vital organs, which appear as translucent dark spots. If hooked correctly the shrimp will remain alive and active while he waits to be devoured. In version one, the hook is threaded crosswise through the carapace, just under the tip of the shell. The shrimp can also be hooked crosswise through the last segment of his tail. This will keep him alive the longest provided he manages to keep from getting eaten.
An alternate version which will provide more casting distance and make the shrimp easier to retrieve, the hook point is threaded under the "chin" and exits through the center of the carapace, just behind the "horn" and between the vital organs. When hooked in this way, the shrimp won't live as long as it would if hooked crosswise through the carapace.
To make a weed-less casting rig for fishing in grassy areas, push the hook point all the way through the tip of the tail. Pull the shank out of the tail and invert the hook, so that the point faces the underside of the shrimp. Lastly, embed the point of the hook in the tail meat. Once again, removing the shrimp's tail fan will emit a scent that attracts fish.
You now have a shrimp that can be fished through grass and weeds, as well as over jagged structure such as shell reefs.
Another way to rig a shrimp for basic casting and drift-fishing is to run the hook through the tip of the tail, either crosswise or up through the center of the tail. The latter keeps the hook point clear of bottom snags. Many experts prefer this method because it allows the shrimp to kick freely and puts the hook in a good position for striking when a game fish eats the bait head-first. The tail fan can be left on, or removed to provide additional scent.
Last but not least, another way to rig a shrimp for basic casting and fishing the bottom or a specific portion of the water column, is to rig a live shrimp on a jighead. A long-standing producer of trout, redfish, and flounder in deep holes, and around bridges, the jighead takes the shrimp down to the bottom while the shrimp provides the the action. The jig is usually bounced very subtly along the bottom or even jigged as it carried by the current. It's important to be gentle when jigging this combo in order to keep the shrimp from sliding or falling off the hook.
Once again, the hook point is threaded under the "chin" and exits through the center of the carapace, just behind the "horn" and between the vital organs.