I stepped aboard a friend’s boat for a day of offshore fishing; one of the other guys had brought the bait, and this is what I saw when I opened up the cooler:


The ‘hoo had yellowed bellies, shrunken eyes, and a stench emminating from them that screamed “rotting flesh.” This guy had saved the frozen-then-thawed ballyhoo from a prior trip, re-frozen them, and thawed them again. The savage!

Most guys know that when choosing baits, it’s imperative to look for full, glassy eyes and silver skin. Rotten bait is no good, period. Not only will it rip apart when trolled at six knots, it’ll also fail to catch fish when it does hold together. Ask yourself: would you eat this fish? Of course not. And when a predator gets a whiff of rotting flesh, he won’t eat it either.

We spend thousands of dollars on boats, gear, fuel, ice, and yes, bait. Yet some guys will try to save 20 bucks by re-freezing old ballyhoo. Amazing. Here’s a simple bit of advice that will help you catch more fish: don’t succumb to this temptation. Throw away your old baits, never re-freeze thawed fish, and when someone else brings it, always carefully inspect the ballyhoo onboard before leaving the dock in the morning.

BONUS BALLYHOO TIP: When rigging a split-bill ballyhoo check to make sure the two sections of the bill are perfectly even in length. If they aren’t, the ‘hoo will often turn on its side when trolled.