How to Use Mussels As Fishing Bait

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Mussels are various species of bivalve mollusks with an oblong shell. They live in both freshwater and saltwater. Freshwater mussels sit partially covered in the sand or dirt whereas thread-like fibers called byssus attach ocean mussel shells to rocks, piers, and other structures. A fan-like siphon enables mussels to feed on plankton and other microscopic animals. Many creatures prey on mussels, including sea stars, birds, fish, raccoons, otters, and humans. Because fish like them, they can be used effectively as bait.

Things You'll Need

  • Live Mussels
  • Fishing Pole
  • Reel
  • Fishing Line
  • Fishing Weight
  • Hook
  • Towel
  • Blunt-Tipped Knife

How to Use Mussels As Fishing Bait

  • Select fresh live mussels to purchase. As with all living things, fish can sense decay and can be picky about the freshness of their meals. Fresh mussels should be tightly closed and react to open air. Tapping on the shell should result in a solid, dense sound. Hollow-sounding shells can indicate dead or dried mussel bodies.

  • Prepare your line on the pole, using the knot technique of your choice. Then attach the weight and fishing hook. The type and size of hook and weight will vary depending upon the type of fish you're trying to catch and the location.

  • Hold the mussel firmly in a towel to avoid slippage.

  • Insert the knife into the narrow end of the shell opposite of the shell hinge and wiggle it into the shell roughly a quarter of an inch.

  • Turn the knife about 45 degrees toward yourself, thereby cracking open the shell.

  • Slide the knife up to the attached point of the shell and turn it again to open the shell. Repeat this step around the shell until the shell is held together only by its hinge.

  • Scrape the body of the mussel out of the shell by sliding the knife under the body and gently releasing attached parts.

  • Prepare the mussel to use as bait by cutting it into pieces. The size of the bait will vary upon the type of fish for your location. Fish such as bass and halibut have larger mouths, so the bait can remain whole. Smaller-mouthed fish will obviously require a smaller piece.

  • Thread the fishing bait onto the hook by inserting the hook into one cut end of the mussel. Push the hook through the inside of the mussel and allow the bait to go up the neck of the hook.

  • Finish attaching the bait by inserting the tip of the hook into the mussel, hiding the point from view. The objective is to hide any sheen on the hook from the fish while ensuring that the bait is secure on the hook.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some fish prefer a pungent aroma, so spraying the bait with an attractant may increase your results.

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