Baitfish - we wouldn’t be anywhere without them. They’re the small fish we catch and use to bait larger predatory fish (game fish). They’re a great tool for deep-sea fishing because they are common and abundant in supply. While they have a short lifespan, their population can increase rapidly and can recover quickly from depletion.
Common types of baitfish in the ocean are anchovies, gudgeon, half breaks (ballyhoo and scad). Bigger fish like menhaden, flying fish, and ladyfish are sometimes considered bait fish depending on the size of the game fish you are fishing for.
Freshwater baitfish include minnows, and those in the carp, sucker, killifish, shad, and sunfish families, but not black bass or crappies.
Baitfish can also be referred to as forage fish, but they don’t mean the same thing. This term is used at fisheries and refers to small fish that are preyed on by much larger predators (such as large fish, seabirds, and marine animals). Baitfish referees only to the small fish that are caught to use as bait for other fish.
Baitfish can also be confused with feeder fish. Feeder fish is a term used by aquariums, and while it implies the same concept, these small fish are eaten by larger fish, but only referring to the aquarium setting.
Who knew such a tiny fish had so much impact? Next time you’re on your Miami fishing trip, you can show off your knowledge of these small but very important part of the deep sea fishing experience.
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