Fishing & Hunting Tips

How to catch shiners

Every great fish likes to chase around some live fish and add them as a part of their diet. Imagine if you’re looking for striped wild bass and using shiners as bait will improve the chances of a successful catch significantly. That’s why we’re gonna focus on how to catch Shiners today.

Did you know that female gold shiner live longer than their counterparts? They also become larger and sold as a widely popular baitfish for largemouth bass, crappie, and even catfish.

You may not require a good fishing set up to hunt shiners but what about when you’re baiting for bigger fish? If it is bass that you’re after then I got some of the best bass fishing rod and reel for beginners with a fraction of the price.

You can always pick up shiners from the farms. These are raised in giant tanks. They don’t have the natural instinct to blast away from upcoming predators like those wild ones. So tank shiners might now get the attention of your trophy fish.

Besides if you put a little effort and learn a few tips on how to catch shiners than you’ll also be able to save some money in the long run. Let’s begin.

There are 5 proven methods about how to catch shiners.

1. Trapping

Trapping is the most stress-free way to catch these shiners. Of course, you gotta put in some efforts simultaneously but, at least those shiners won’t get pressurized in a harmful way. Now let’s do this step by step.

  • Locating shallows: This shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Just look for these covers that allow shadow and cover near the shallows. Docks, light vegetations, and overhanging trees. I would suggest staying clear off those dense bushy vegetations because it’s hard to mark those fishes. You’ll more likely to see some shiners activity close to the surface water. Just come up with a strategic trap position and set’em up.
  • Use chumming if needed: What if there aren’t any accessible covers near the shallows other than dense bushing vegetation? No worries, lure em shiners out of those dense vegetations. Use chunks of bread large enough for a couple of shiners to feast on. This will give you a definite idea about the number of shiners around the area.
  • Bait and trap set up: Simply throw some crackers or bread, or both into trapping area. Lure those shiners in. Now place the trap in the shallows. Keep an eye on the current and if it’s strong then place some rocks to anchor the trap or secure it by tying a line.
  • Gather your bounty: Now wait for shiners to pile up inside the trap net. Once you’ve had enough, bring the net close to the shallows for collection. Keep the trap partially submerged so those shiners can get enough oxygen. Transfer them ASAP into your chosen holding storage. This way you’ll likely to have a 100% live batch of shiners which will increase your biting chance significantly.

2. Use a Seine net

Shiners are very delicate fish. You would want them to catch with less stress as possible. Because the quality of bait equals the kind of fish you’re gonna land. Using a Seine net is also an easier way to store a bunch of shiners. Follow these steps carefully-

  • Ask a friend: If you are an avid angler, chances are that you have some angler friends is pretty high. Now performing Seine netting requires a minimum of two people. But if want everything to be as fluid as water, then call upon a third person. Because it will be easier when extracting those netted shiners into the holding container. I’m sure you won’t have trouble looking for others. I mean they’ll need the bait after all.
  • Scan the shallows: You need to locate a spot close to the shore where the riverbed is less bumpy, flat and even. Upon wading, make sure that your waist is clear of the water. Also, watch an eye around you for heavy currents. Because if you get knocked than there goes your hard earned catch along with an unwanted bath. Besides, shiners keep clear off the strong stream so no point wasting your efforts there.
  • Keep the net vertical: Now each of you holds the bet at either end and starts stepping away from each other until the net spreads out completely. Most of the net features lead weights or floats. In that case, make sure to keep the weights along the bottom and floats positioned at the top.
  • One of you stick close by the shoreline: Either you or one of your friend should stay close to the shore. Just a couple of step into the water away from dry land. Make certain to keep enough gap on either side to keep the net fully extended when aligned to the shoreline. Have them at a standstill once you guys achieve the proper positioning.
  • Get your other friend to Wade out into the water: Everyone should maintain the net at a full extension. Once it’s tight enough, instruct them to drag the net through the water and the first person close to the shore to do a 180° sweep around him and stay firm in place just like a pivot. To stop shiners from escaping the Seine perimeter, make sure to keep in contact with the riverbed at the time of dragging the net. Either you or your friend should make your way to the land after trapping the shiners in between the Seine net and the shoreline.
  • Collect your shiners: Keep an eye on any possible exit for the shiners. Because if they do see an opening, they’ll take it. Keep both ends of the net as close as possible to the shoreline. This is where your third friend becomes handy. Once you and your second friend stay at either end securing the Seine net, your third friend can scoop out those shiners using a teardrop net. But if there are only two of you then bring along each end of the net close enough for one of you to hold while the other one can scoop out those shiners.

3. Use a cast net

What I love about casting net, it’s a single person job and you don’t have to rely solely upon shallow waters because it can do deep waters as well. But there’s a drawback. Although this method is absolutely fine with the well being of the shiners but requires a lot of finesse and practice. I mean you need to master the art of casting with a perfect spready of the net right before it hits the water.

A skill that requires practice rather than using a Seine net. Before you head out with a cast net, practice the perfect cast on land or a body of water. Remember, frequent miss cast will spook the shiners away from you. Apart from perfect casting skill, you will need to learn to hit the intended casting spot hence building cast accuracy. Let’s take it down set by step, shall we?

  • Mark your casting spot: Keep clear of dense vegetations. And try not cast in floating debris and branches even if there are shiners. Because you wouldn’t want to destroy your net by snagging into these unwanted objects. Keep an eye on deep and shallow waters for any possible bubble, boils and other activities that indicate the presence of shiners. If you spot them in deep waters and use chumming to make them get closer to the surface. Keep chumming for 10-15 minutes to lure as many shiners as possible before casting the net. A net with the size of 5’ in diameter is perfect for casting in the shallows.
  • Cast: This is important. Make sure that your net spreads perfectly before it hits the water. You need to practice the techniques. There are a few ways you can do this right.
  1. Use your favored hand to coil the throw-line in. Then hold the net up with the weight resting on the ground and keep it in full extension using your other hand. Simply clutch the net at waist height using your favored hand.
  2. Now show off your biceps as you start to hold the net up with your favored hand. Now keep the bottom weight of the net in between your thumb and index finger of your free hand, aiming a spot right beneath your raised hand’s thumb.
  3. Stretch your favored hand. Keep it straight out to your flank. Now bring forget the other arm at your chest level which will result in the bottom of the net to open by a quarter.
  4. Now twist your body at your favored arm side by 90° as you face your preferred spot. Keep hold of the line as you cast the net as high as you swing through and rotate back to your original position.
  • Close the net: Wait for the weights to sink down after your cast. Begin to tug the rope tight to close the net. Close the net before it reached the river bed. You wouldn’t want to tangle your net in the bottom bed, trust me.
  • Floor the shiners: Slowly haul the net close to the shore or boat, and hoist it away from water. Open the net ASAP and shift those shiners into the holding pen avoiding further stress.

4. Rod and line

I absolutely don’t recommend this one. Because you gotta catch each shiner one at a time. This is time-consuming and straight up frustrating if you ask me. But sometimes, you’ll need to improvise especially if you run out of shiners in the middle of a fishing session. Of course, this method will tire out the fish and possibly kill them, but, desperate times need desperate measurements. Let’s go people.

  • Find the right spot: As I said before, you’ll find shiners in shaded shallow water for sure. Again avoid dense bushes, if you don’t want to mess the lineup. Thus for deep water, look for any bubbles, boils, and other activities that ensure the presence of shiners in the deep. Just to be sure, use chums to bring them up to the surface.
  • Load your hook with bait: Use small treble hook if you don’t want your shiner to get injured. Use small balls of bread as baits and keep them afloat on the water surface.
  • Reel in the shiner: Don’t reel at the moment you feel the tug in the line. Wait for the shiner to munch on the bread for a while to make sure it’s hooked in perfectly. Then slowly, delicately reel in the line as it gets tighter. Don’t jerk the rod because it may damage the shiner or worst, snapping off the fish with the bait.
  • Floor the shiner: Lift it gently out of the water and hold it firm enough to prevent any escape attempt as you unhook the shiner. But don’t squeeze too much though. It might get fatally injured. Now throw it in your holding bucket or your boat’s fish holding water cabinet for later use.

5. Proper storage

If you don’t have proper holding storage, the shiners are as good as dead. And all of your efforts will be in vain. Come along and find out how delicately we can store our precious baits.

  • Keep the shiners comfy: Make sure that you have an aerated live-well flow through bait bucket or at least a cooler with an aerator for proper shiner storage. You’ll need enough oxygen into the storage water to avoid any loss. You’d want your shiners to be as stress-free as possible so they can act naturally when used as bait.
  • Suitable water temperature: If you’re planning to store the shiner for a day, then maintain the water temperature within 60°F. Use a thermometer to monitor the heat. If it’s a hot day than make sure to add some ice to the cooler. But if you want long term storage, then investing in a refrigerated insulated tank or water circulation system. Not only it will minimize losses, but also allow you to make some money if you decide to sell those shiners.
  • Tidy up the tank: A thorough and proper cleaning is recommended especially if you use your tank for long term shiners storage. You’d want to avoid any microorganisms or bacteria attacks on your shiners which could result in a mass loss. In such cases, you won’t be able to use or sell these dead shiners because nobody will buy disease deceased shiners. And using these infected baits can cause serious health hazards, especially among the people who’ll consume the fish that was caught by infected bait.

how to catch shiners

In the end

I’m sure you know how to catch shiners by now. A healthy bait always yields the best catch. So hunt these shiners properly. Remember, cold weather drives the shiners away from shallows and into the deep water. And keep chumming at the same spot a day. This will keep the shiners interested in a single spot for that day at least.

That’s it, folks. Hope you have a wonderful day. And as always, happy & bountiful fishing.

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sport fisherman and hunter, and love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting. Also love to hear from you and your experience.

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