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Daily fishing report
By ED WALKER
Published May 4, 2005
You may have noticed one bait that gets mentioned a lot in this column: the scaled sardine. This is because time and again, these small, lively baitfish will produce better than everything else. Sometimes you have to have them, which can present a problem. Locating and catching enough can be as challenging as hooking up the big fish. One of the best places to look for them is along the beaches. When the bait is on the beach, it is usually thick. This is because the gamefish offshore have forced large numbers to seek safety in the shallows of the swash channels and sandbars. All it takes to give away their location is a few diving pelicans and/or terns. One or two throws with a cast net to where you see the birds diving often produces all the bait you can carry.
Grass flats are also good places to find sardines, but because they are usually more spread out when over grass, you may need to chum to draw enough together to bother casting. Again, there is no better sign when choosing a spot than a diving pelican. The best mixture of ingredients for chumming sardines is one of the great debates in flats fishing. The base ingredients are fish-flavored cat food and canned fish such as sardines or jack mackerel. After that, each angler seems to have his own recipe. Some add scents such as menhaden oil or anise oil while others mix in extenders such as bread, oatmeal, cornmeal and even instant mashed potatoes. When chumming in deeper water, sand can be added to help get the chum down in the water column.