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Jacksonville Fishing Trips
1578 Live Oak Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32246
(904) 866-8055

Using Pinfish Traps to Catch Live Bait

As you probably know from reading this blog, Roger Bump is a big fan of using artificial lures to target inshore fish, and for a good reason, he’s quite successful with them. Having said that, when it comes to offshore fishing, on my charters, I prefer live bait and there is no better way to collect live bait than using live bait fish traps, aka “pinfish traps.”

Pinfish Trap Placement

Placement of your pinfish trap is important, so you’ll obviously want to place it in spots where you’ve caught fish before or have seen large quantities of fish schooled up. Ideally you should place your live bait trap in at least 4 feet of water and not go much deeper that about 10 feet of water.

Offshore Pinfish Trap

Another good idea is to GPS your pinfish trap and buoy so you can easily find it.

Below are some tips for ideal placement of live bait traps for targeting pinfish.

Targeting Pinfish

  • Look for the thickest grass beds with slight to medium current movement and deploy the trap on a sandy spot surrounded by the grass.
  • If you see a large school of pinfish flashing in the sunlight while looking for a spot to deploy the trap, this would be a great place to deploy trap.
  • If you know of any great trout flats, this is also where pinfish gather in large schools. Trout and pinfish use the same grass environment for feeding purposes, so putting traps where trout have gathered have always proven very productive.
  • Additionally, deploying your trap around bridge pilings, structure and boat docks will produce good catches of pinfish.

Pinfish Trap Bait

Although they are called “pinfish traps” they catch many other fish that are perfect live bait, such as spot, porgy, toad fish, mangos, grunts, croaker, and perch, to name a few… and they’ll eat anything, so whatever you put in your trap will do the job. What I like to do is set my trap out the night before (or two nights before if time permits) and I usually use dead carcass from previous fishing trips because in general, the more raw fish that is used, the better the results are. If you don’t have that, I’d recommend the cheapest food you can find. Some people just put a bit of cat food in a woman’s stocking and set it in the trap. As I said they’ll eat most anything.

Pinfish Trap Deployment

You’ll get the best results if you drop the long part of the pinfish trap in the direction of current flow allowing live bait to easily enter the trap. It’s also a good idea to weight the traps with lead bars when deploying in spots that have strong tides or currents. Doing that will prevent the trap from tipping over and blocking the inlet to the trap.


It’s certainly possible to catch live bait within a few hours, but if time permits I like to put my bait fish trap out for a good 24 hours. When you initially deploy your pinfish trap, it will take a while before most live baits become comfortable with it and begin to enter the trap.  Once the smell of the fish oils begins spreading, the bait fish get use to the pinfish trap’s environment and they begin entering. Constantly checking your trap is a bad idea because it irritates the feeding environment and pulling a live bait trap after just a few hours is, in my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can make.


Pinfish traps are undoubtedly one of the quickest, easiest, cheapest ways to attain thousands of live baits and investing in one will save you hundreds of dollars on bait because you won’t have to buy it. As I stated before, a good arsenal of healthy live bait is a must for me on my offshore charters. Following the steps above will get you on your way to having an arsenal of healthy live bait and ultimately catching some prize fish. For more fish tips be sure to subscribe to our posts via email using the form below.

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