Hugh Crumpler III


    There is more to catching Bass with Wild Shiners than watching a strike indicator.  Catching Bass with wild shiners is perceived by most to be sitting, watching a strike indicator.  When done professionally a multitude of factors are involved with the end process of setting the hook and catching bass.  Where to fish; how to hook the bait; the bait; how a bass eats a wild shiner; and the technique to fish the wild shiner are all professional considerations.  There is action and thrill involved!  There is more than one way, one place, more than one set of equipment, involved in catching bass with wild shiners..  Some may think it’s like sitting on a stump- it shouldn’t be.  In this article subjects covered are:  1. Where to fish.  2.  Hooking the wild shiner.  3.  The techniques of trolling, anchor fishing, free line fishing, Carolina rig fishing, dead shiner fishing and how to hook the shiner in each method.  4.  How bass eat a wild shiner.  5.  Other fish that will bite your wild shiner.  6.  The Vital Hook Set.  7.  Equipment.  8.  Handling the bass.  9.  Photographing the bass.  10.  The wild shiner itself including how to make it better than when you got it.  11.  Locating shiner fishing places.  The information comes from years of guiding clients to MONSTER BASS with wild shiners; lots of study; and brain picking other wild shiner fishing experts.


“Catching bass with Wild Shiners is more than watching a strike indicator!”


Where to Fish Wild Shiners

      There are three main areas bass concentrate.  Grass Mats are excellent places to fish wild shiners.  Grass Mats are topped out vegetation  or vegetation that has grown and is floating.  Areas with scattered grass clumps are excellent areas to fish wild shiners.  And trees or wood are excellent places to fish wild shiners.


     Fishing a grass mat involves anchoring around the mat and placing the bait near the mat, or letting the bait swim under the mat.  Scattered grass areas may be fished effectively by anchoring or trolling. Wood and trees can be fished by trolling or anchoring.     Spawning grounds are excellent areas to shiner fish. These areas can be trolled, drifted, anchored or fished with wild shiners in an artificial lure fishing method.


“Grass  Mats are excellent places to fish Wild Shiners.”


     There is nothing like the thrill of the catch.  To achieve more thrills of more catches it takes patience, skill, knowledge, and applying all.


Hooking the Wild Shiner


     There are four ways to hook a wild shiner.  Each way has advantages and  disadvantages.  Each way has a reason.   The four locations for hooking the wild shiner are through the lips,  below the dorsal fin, above the anal fin and in the tail.


     The most common and most widely used hooking procedure is to hook the wild shiner through the lips.  Done correctly the point of the hook goes through the lower lip and comes out one of the two air holes in the top of the head of the wild shiner.  The placement of the hook through the air hole gives more substance for the hook to hold.  The hook stays in place better.  Bass eat shiners head first.  Lip hooking increases hook set ratio.  Fishing line has tension or pull.  With the hook in the lips the wild shiner tends to swim back to the boat.  (The line tension causes the wild shiner to face the angler.  The shiner swims the way he faces.)  Lip hooking reduces swimming action of the bait and the bait  tends to stay in one place.  Sometimes you want the shiner to stay put and sometimes you want him to move.  How you hook him makes a difference.


     A sub category of lip hooking the wild shiner in the lips is hooking the wild shiner in the head.  Basically, the hook is placed through the meaty part of  the bait just behind the two air holes.  You get the advantages of lip hooking, a more solid positioning of the hook, and a little more action out of the bait.


“Hook the Wild Shiner through the lower lip and then bring the point of the hook through one of the air holes in the top of the head.”


     To hook the wild shiner under the dorsal fin run the hook through the meat in the back of wild shiner just below the dorsal fin.  The exact placement of the hook is only important in that the angler should be able to rip the hook through the shiner when he sets the hook.  A shiner will face away from the angler when hooked this way.   The shiner will tend to swim more.  When tension is placed on the line the shiner will come to the top and make splashes.  Sometimes the splashing is enough to get a curious bass to strike.  The splashing also draws attention.   When splashing, the wild shiner looks like a bait trying to escape a bass.  An angler can cause a wild shiner to swim UNDER cover when hooked this way.  Bass eat wild shiners head first.  Hook set to  hook up ratio is reduced.  The wild shiner tends to come up to the surface when hooked this way.   Sometimes the difference in getting a bass to strike or not is based on whether the shiner swims or not. 


“The hook is placed through the shiner below the dorsal fin.”


     Hooking the wild shiner above the anal fin is used when you need the shiner to swim under a mat to produce a bite.  The idea is that with the hook on the bottom of the shiner the hook is less likely to get stuck in the mat.  Basically, this is the same as hooking the wild shiner under the dorsal fin.  The major difference is that the hook can easily be pulled out of the shiner when it is placed above the anal fin.  By pulling the rod tip down while the shiner is under the mat the shiner is pulled out of the bottom of the mat and when the rod tip is given to the shiner the shiner will swim further under the mat.  Lifting the rod tip up or to the side will cause the shiner to dig deeper into the bottom of the mat.  Many, many times the difference in getting a bite or getting that MONSTER bite is based on the location of the shiner.  On the edge of the mat or swimming under it can be a vital difference.


     Tail hooking has the distinct advantage of getting the shiner to swim.  And it has the distinct disadvantage of greatly reduced hook up success. 


     When to use each hook placement method is based on what the bass are doing, how the angler is trying to catch them, the quality of the bait, and what other fish in the area are doing.  For example, if needle fish or gar are in the area the shiners should not be  near the surface as the needle fish and gar will wound and kill the bait.


“Fishing with Wild Shiners in scattered grass produced this MONSTER.”


Techniques of Fishing Wild Shiners


     A variety of techniques can be used to get bass to bite.  Trolling is a good technique.  Anchored techniques are effective.  Free line techniques are effective whether  trolling, drifting, or anchored.   Wild shiners fished in a Carolina rig  technique are effective.  And using a strike indicator technique can be used trolling, drifting or anchored.


     Trolling is an excellent method of fishing wild shiners.  Drifting is basically another method of trolling.  Drifting amounts to turning the boat side ways and covering an area as wide as the boat is long.  Trolling is going in the direction of the nose of the boat and covers a narrower path than drifting.  Boat control is greater when trolling.


     Basic trolling involves hooking the shiner through the lips; using a strike indicator and allowing the rig to follow behind the boat.  The strike indicator could be a float or a balloon.  The distance between the shiner and the indicator should be about two feet.  The distance is really not important.  The shiner will come up to the top as the boat moves forward.  The strike indicator is for the angler not the bass or bait.  The strike indicator lets the angler know the general  location of the bait and allows the angler to more easily know when the bait has been eaten.


     Put one shiner out the back.  One out each side.  Then move the boat S...L...O....W...L...Y.  Not even as fast as the slowest your trolling motor will go.  The idea is to draw the bass up out of what ever they are in and get them to bite.  Slow moving bait gives the bass a longer look; more time to catch up; and more time to eat the shiner.


     PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BAIT!!!  The bait will tell you worlds of information.  DO NOT TRY TO THROW LURES WHILE YOU ARE DOING THIS!!!  Listen to your shiner.  When your shiners follow the boat in a straight line- they are not afraid.  There are no bass!  A scared shiner will move about.  What scares the shiner is an invitation to be dinner by a bass.  If your shiners move to the left-the bass are to the right.  If you shiners move to the right the bass are to the left.  If your shiner hops out of the water- the bass is right under him waiting for him to come down.  If the shiners move- STOP!!!!  Give the bass a chance to devour the bait.  If more than one of your shiners is eaten- ANCHOR!!!!  You have located  a school.  If the school does not bite when anchored- pick up the anchor and troll through the area again.  Some times the bass want the shiners moving.


     Wild shiners can be trolled without the strike indicator.  The advantage is that the bass might like the shiner better this way.   The disadvantage is that the angler has to pay greater attention to what he feels in the line to know what the shiner is doing.  Also,  when the boat is stopped the shiner might go down into some thing that the angler can not get it out of.  Like a tree or grass clump.


     Trolling  and drifting wild shiners are techniques that can be used to catch and to locate bass.  Trolling is a method to use when the bass are mobile. It is a method to use when the bass are scattered.  Trolling is a method to use to locate a group of bass .  Sometimes the shiners will get scared in the same place during several trolling passes but not get  eaten.  The bass are in that area.  The bass  need to see the shiners for a longer period of time in order to bite.  Stop, anchor and be patient.  Place the shiners out hooked in a variety of methods.  By using a variety of hooking techniques the angler is searching for the most effective method.    When one method out produces the other methods switch more bait to the most effective  method.


     A wild shiner was conceived in the wild.  It grew up in the wild.  Some catcher person caught it and sold it to a tackle shop.   The wild shiner knows what a bass is.  It knows what a bass is going to do to it and it does not want that to happen.  PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE WILD SHINER IS TELLING YOU!!!!


     Throwing lures and trolling wild shiners is a hope and a prayer.  It is a hope some thing hits the artificial and praying something hits the  bait.  GET SERIOUS!!! DO ONE OR THE OTHER!!  You will be more successful.


     If you know where bass are located, think you know where bass are located, or for some reason are convinced one spot is the place to be- anchor up.  Use two anchors.  Hold the boat steady.  Usually, anchoring up wind so that the lines are flowing with the wind in a straight line is the method that allows the bait to stay in the strike zone the longest.


     Areas where anchoring works best are always places you know there are bass.  Such places could be spawning areas, scattered grass areas, bass routes, wood clumps or grass mats.  Anchored fishing allows the angler to use more shiner techniques at the same time.  The angler may use a strike indicator, free line, Carolina Rig, or use a combination of methods.


     Around a topped out mat start with a strike indicator and a dorsal fin hooked shiner.  You want the shiner to swim under the mat.  You will know this because the strike indicator will be flush against the mat.  YOU WANT THIS!!  If the shiner will not go under the mat when hooked under the dorsal fin it is usually an indication that the shiner is getting invitations to be dinner from under the mat.  Many times a bass will “stalk” a shiner until the bass has determined an appropriate time to eat the shiner.  Let your bait swim and see what happens.  Many times an angler will take a bait away from an interested bass because the bait is not where the angler wants it to be.  Patience is to the anglers benefit.  A moving shiner means a bass is near.


     When you anchor--put out several rods.  When  you are in an area that bass will be swimming through it is important to maintain bait in the water at all times.  As the bass swim through the bait will begin to be eaten.  Setting the hook may result in the bass spitting out the bait and remaining hooked.  Another bass will hit the shiner spit out.  To keep catching it is important to immediately put another shiner where the last one was hit.  Yes, even while the angler is fighting the bass.  This keeps the feeding frenzy going.  It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.  More fuel-more fire.  More bait- more bites.


     A HUGE shiner can elicit a strike.  When you have a shiner that is constantly run off from an area and not bit - it is possible to elicit a bite by throwing a HUGE shiner in the area.  Remove all others from the area.  Let the huge guy swim awhile.  The bass will try to figure out how to hit it.  He will stalk it.  IF he does not hit the HUGE guy and times passes then bring in the HUGE guy and throw out a much smaller one.  The smaller one will be immediately be hit.  HUGE guys will also serve to hold a school in your area.  The bass in the school stare at it trying to figure out how to eat it.  When the HUGE guy gets hit you better catch the bass- it’s a big un.


     Using a strike indicator while dorsal fin hooking the shiner allows the shiner to go under the mat a limited distance.  To get the shiner to go under the mat further take off the strike indicator  and FREE LINE the bait.  Whether the shiner is hooked in the nose, tail, under the dorsal fin, or above the anal fin the key is  “free”.  This is a slack line fishing technique.     The angler is a line watcher NOT a line feeler.  If you can feel the shiner, the line is too tight.  Leave slack in the line.  Pitch the shiner out.  The shiner will land with his head pointed away.  He should swim away.  Give him slack line.  Feed him line.  Let him swim under the mat.  The indication of a bite is a “hop” in the line or a slow steady pull.  A bass will pull down the rod tip while the shiner may pull the tip down but he can not hold the rod tip down.  Pulling too much on the line will cause the point of the hook to embed itself into a piece of structure-like wood or grass.  Then the shiner will not be able to swim.  A bass might hit.  However, chances of the bass getting the hook and the bait are reduced.  FREE LINE is an advanced techniques.  Free Line takes patience and observance to be successful.  The angler is required to “read” the line.  Very few anglers become competent with this method in one outing.  Once mastered FREE LINE will produce more and larger bass.  Many times Free Line Techniques produce bass when other methods produce nothing.


     In current anchor so that you are able to use the current to your advantage.  Methods that work are casting into the current and letting the current bring the shiner back to you.  Or casting across the current and allowing the current to carry the bait.  Both methods are effective .  The key is to be sure the shiner goes through the strike zone in a natural manner.


     Carolina Rigging a shiner is excellent in current.  The weight causes the shiner to be near the bottom.  This is the key!!!   The bass will not always come to the top to strike.  Always hook a shiner in the nose when Carolina Rig fishing.  Any other hooking method will cause the shiner to go backwards in the current and drown itself.  If your shiner dies, hooked in the nose, the current will cause the shiner to look alive.   The use of a swivel, bead, and brass weight in your shiner Carolina Rig is not necessary.  The weight is only to get the shiner into the deeper water.  Use a Bell sinker or an Egg sinker.  Fold the line.  Run it through.  Loop the sinker.  Experiment with different distances between the bait and the weight to determine the optimum distance.


“Carolina Rigging a Wild Shiner elicited this bite.”


          When using a strike indicator there are two basic types.  First is a float.  This is a hard material of some sort.  The advantage is that the float is always a float.  The second type is a balloon.   It is important to blow up a balloon a small amount.  A needle fish will pop a balloon.  A balloon will expand as the sun heats it.  A balloon will go through vegetation or wood much easier than a float which is an advantage.  Another advantage of a balloon is that it will pop and come through some things that will hang up a float.  This is important with a MONSTER is on the line.  And the final advantage of a balloon is that it costs about two cents compared to 69 cents for a good float.


     An effective method of fishing a wild shiner is to pitch it into the holes in the grass.  This is using a wild shiner like a lure.  The idea is that when the shiner goes into the hole a bass in the hole, or a bass in the grass around the hole comes out and eats the shiner.  Keep the line slack.  Monitor the line.  And when the line “hops” or has a slow steady pull- a bass has eaten the shiner.


     An angler can anchor, troll, or drift.  Within each of these the angler is able to use a strike indicator, free line, or Carolina Rig.  And an angler has a variety of methods of hooking the shiner.  This is not guess work.  It is a matter of studying the prey,  its habitat and applying what the angler believes to be the strike producing method.  And that is the start of the thrill of the catch.


How Bass Eat Wild Shiners


     Open your mind and read on.   When a bass sees a shiner, he studies how to catch the shiner.  This involves “stalking”.  If your shiner is moving there is a possibility that a bass is in the stalking mode.  Scientific studies have shown that a bass will gets its prey  70% of the time when the prey is swimming off the bottom.  So........if you hook up with 7 of ten bites you are perfect.  Once a bass has begun the stalking mode he his focused on the bait.  The bass will seldom stop the attempt.  If the shiner swims too far, if the angler removes the shiner then the bass quits.  When the bass goes to step two he will try to eat the shiner.  This means the bass gets into position to swallow the shiner head first.  This is a very quick movement.  If the bass is successful this is a “hop” in the line.  Then the bass swims off.  The bass has no reason to hurry--he just ate.  That is the slow steady pull on the line.  If you could open the bass’s mouth you would see the tail of the shiner sticking out of its throat.


     A wild shiner knows what a bass is and what is going to do to him.  The wild shiner does not want this to happen.  The first attempt by the bass to eat may be unsuccessful.  The bass will then goe into the “stun the shiner” mode.  In this mode the bass will swim into the side of the shiner with his mouth closed.  The idea is to “knock the wind” out of the shiner.  Then the bass will move face to face with the shiner and swallow the shiner head first.


     Again, the wild shiner does not want this to happen.  This is some of the exciting part of wild shiner fishing as the bass does his thing and the shiner does his thing.   The shiner may jump out of the water.  The shiner may swim vigorously away from the bass.  The bass remains focused.  The angler must remain focused and patient.  The angler may “read” the water.  The angler looks for swirls indicating the bass is making his move.  Always the angler must remain on point.  The angler must observe, study the water and remain on point.  When the balloon goes under; when there is a slow steady pull on the line- the bass has been successful.


     A few hints about how a bass eats a shiner.  A bass has no hands, arms or pockets.  He does not carry the shiner.  He does not scale the shiner and then swallow him.  A bass swallows the shiner in one gulp.  A scaled shiner is an indication that the shiner was in the bass’s belly to its tail and was then spit out.  When the bass goes into the “stun mode” he strikes the shiner in the side.  This will cause scales to come off the shiner.  This is not scaling.  Only scales on part of one side come off.



     Spawning Bass and Wild Shiners


     Spawning bass will hit a shiner.  Not always hitting the wild shiner with eating it in mind.  Usually the purpose is to let the shiner know he is in the wrong place.  The angler can “read” this situation.  If the shiner is hit and then the bass does nothing- the probability is that the bass is spawning.  The shiner will be lathargic; just sort of moping around.  the shiner’s air sack has been destroyed.  The angler can’t see it.  The angler is able to  “read” it by the shiners behavior. The shiner is useless for the spawning bass.  Might as well throw this shiner away.  A bass on the bed does not see it as a threat and will not hit it again.   To catch the bedding bass requires a bunch of shiners.   When the bass is frustrated and determined to stop the shiners from entering the protected zone.  Then the bass will eat.


     The use of a dead shiner on bedding bass is a highly effective technique.  Put the shiner in the  protected zone and wait.  No matter how many times the bass stuns the shiner it does not leave.  Finally , the bass eats it.  The key is that the dead shiner must lay across something that holds it above the bottom- like a piece of wood or grass.  Natural wind and current will make the dead shiner move a little.   The use of a dead shiner requires patience, time and determination on the part of the angler.  Lip hooking is the most effective method with dead bait.


     The difference between how a bedding bass strikes a shiner and an eating bass strikes a shiner is based on the bass’s purpose. It is necessary for the angler to “read” his bites and determine which kind of strike he had.  In Florida, the bass start bedding in November and continue through April.  It is not the same bass.  In the spawning grounds there will be spawning bass, prespawn bass and postspawn bass all at the same time.  “Reading” the strike correctly will improve the angler’s catch.


“This MONSTER Bass came while anchored in a staging area.”


Setting the Hook


     When to set the hook and how to set the hook are critical and extremely important!  Understanding how a bass eats a wild shiner and how a bass bites is of great importance in the hook setting process.  There is a difference between the use of a strike indicator and free line techniques when setting the hook.  Each is approached with an understanding of how the bass bites and how the bait is fished.


     When a strike indicator is used there is a line between the strike indicator and the rod tip.  There is another line between the strike indicator and the bait.  The necessity is to get one straight line between the reel and the hook.  POINT THE ROD TIP AT THE STRIKE INDICATOR!  SLOWLY, DELIBERATELY, WIND UP THE SLACK!  The angler will notice that the line gets taught and the line moves towards the bass.  MOVE THE ROD TIP SO IT IS POINTED STRAIGHT AT THE BASS!

MAINTAIN THE WINDING!    The bass will not let go of the shiner as long as the angler maintains pressure.  The bass has no reason to spit out the bait unless the angler gives him one.  There should be a straight line between the reel and the bass.  WHEN YOU FEEL THE BASS!  SET THE HOOK - STRAIGHT UP AND OVER YOUR HEAD WITH ALL OF YOUR FORCE!!   Once the hook is set the fighting the bass part of the thrill of the catch happens.


     Free Line techniques require a little different hook setting method.  The most important factor remains that a straight line should exist between the reel and the bass.  The bass will usually be swimming away from the angler or to one side.  POINT THE ROD TIP AT THE BASS!  DO NOT WIND!  LET THE BASS GET THE LINE TIGHT!  MOVE THE ROD TIP TO MAINTAIN A STRAIGHT LINE BETWEEN THE REEL AND THE BASS!  The line should remain taught at all times.  WHEN YOU FEEL THE BASS!  SET THE ROD STRAIGHT UP AND OVER YOUR HEAD WITH ALL YOUR FORCE!  On occasion the bass will swim at the angler.  When this happens it is necessary to wind up the slack. When the bass is swimming toward the angler, then and only then is winding the slack required in the hook setting process.


    Winding the line in a free line technique or raising the rod tip to “feel” will cause the shiner to be released by the bass.   The term used by guides to describe what their clients did   “He reeled the shiner out of the bass’s mouth.”


     Correct hook setting techniques are extremely important.  When you hook up with seven of ten bites you are doing perfect!


     Carolina Rig hook setting is also unique.  The important necessity is a straight line between the rod tip and the bass.  Because of current and a weight there are no straight lines (except, maybe, between the weight and the bass).   It is necessary to get a straight line before setting the hook.  “Feeling” with the rod tip is an important part of Carolina Rig fishing.  When the bite is felt the bass will swim slowly off with the shiner.  LET HIM SWIM.  HOWEVER,,,,,,,,LET THE BASS PULL THE ROD TIP STRAIGHT.



     Keys for the angler are that the bass will not spit out the shiner unless the angler gives the bass a reason; and the line must be straight between the reel, rod tip and the bass before the angler delivers the hook setting  attempt.  Seven of ten hook ups is perfect.  Seven of ten is how many times scientific studies have shown the bass to be successful when attempting to eat swimming food. 


Other Fish


     The angler using wild shiners is likely to have other fish attempt to eat his wild shiner.  There are ways to determine what is biting.  There are ways to eliminate some of the unnecessary bites.  Kowing what is biting is important.


     The most famous wild shiner eater that bothers the bass fishermen is the Mud Fish.  This beast of the water is also known as Shoe Pic, Dog Fish, Grennel, and several other names.  This fish will crush its prey.  Wth a vice grip mouth containing sharp, fish hook curved teeth the mud fish will strike its prey in the side and crush it.  Once dead, the Mud eats its prey.  Reading the cuts in the shiner and mouth marks in the side tell the angler what bit.  Normal bass hook sets do not work.  But, if you want to catch the Mud-let him swim until he stops and then starts.  Then set the hook.  They are great fighters!  DO NOT PUT YOUR FINGERS IN THEIR MOUTH!


“This shiner is hooked above the anal fin with evidence of having been hit by a Mud Fish.”


     Chain Pickerel live in grass.  They also are side strikers.  They kill the prey and then swallow it.  Some times it seems like they love to strike the prey several times- watching it suffer.  Holes in the shiner and cuts indicate the Chain Pickerel is around.  If the hook is set and it feels like a razor cut the line-the probability is   that the Chain Pickerel stole the hook and bait.


     There are many varieties of gar.  They are almost impossible to hook.  The key here is that that gar usually swim on top of the water.  Get the shiners down by removing the strike indicator and gar bites are greatly reduced.  Signs of gar bites on a shiner are narrow trails of teeth marks.  Needle fish are similar to gar.  Get the shiner under water and needle fish bites are greatly reduced.


     Once in a great while red fish are in bass areas.  When a Red hits a shiner there is a hard vicious hit with a long hard run.  The hard fast run is unmistakable!!  A Striper or hybrid Striper will hit similar to a Red.


     Catfish will also hit a wild shiner.  Catfish usually have a pull the shiner, let it go, pull the shiner, let go type of hit.


     All these types fish live in the same areas as a bass.  If you do not catch bass-move.  If you are catching bass and these others bite-endure the duress.  More bass will bite.





     Equipment is extremely important when fishing with wild shiners.  Most bass fishermen have crankbait rods, flipping sticks, topwater rods and so on.  The serious wild shiner fisherman has tackle just for the use of wild shiners.


     The preferred hook is a Kahle hook.  Based on the size of the bait a 3/0, 4/0 or 5/0 Kahle hook should be used.  A Kahle hook looks unusual to the angler who has not seen one.   The shape of the Kahle hook will usually cause the hook to sew its way in and out of the bass.  This results in a bass being hooked extremely securely.  The hook is  sewed in!


     The minimum is about 20 pound test.  The grass, wood, various other  structures, and the weight of the shiner are all factors requiring a heavy line test with abrasion resistance.  Many shiner guides use 50 pound test.  30 pound test is normal.  Consider in order of importance the bait, where the bait goes, and what the line goes through in determining your choice of  pound test.


      Hook setting techniques are important considerations when selecting a rod.   A long rod is excellent.  Seven feet is perfect.  With the rod tip down and the line straight between the bass and the angler the seven foot rod gives the angler a tremendous amount of line pick-up.  This enables the angler to remove the stretch from the line, the curve between the reel and the bass from the line, the bend from the rod.  Then when the hook is set the angler feels the hook come out of the shiner and into the bass mouth.  The angler wants the bass to stop his hook set.  (Gosh.. I want to go fishing!)  A heavy action rod is a necessity.  SHIMANO’s Compree CPC70H is a perfect casting rod.


     The line test, the rod, and fishing techniques are important in the selection of a reel.  The requirements are strength, durability,  a bait clicker is a must, and the ability to handle heavy line.  Light saltwater reels, Musky reels, and the like are the places to look.  SHIMANO’s Calcutta 400 and SHIMANO’s Bantam 50 are two excellent baitcasting choices.  SHIMANO’s BaitRunner 4500 is an excellent spinning reel choice.   The BaitRunner has a dual drag system allowing the principles of a bait clicker to work.


     The selection and use of the appropriate equipment is crucial.  You would not go Bear hunting with a switch.  Why try the same with bass?   The angler’s success is directionally proportional to his selection of equipment.


Handling the Bass


     Landing and handling the bass are extremely important.  DO NOT LET THE BASS LAY ON THE CARPET!!  Bass have a layer of slime around their body.  With the slime coat on the bass will photo better.  If any of the slime coat  comes off the bass is more likely to get an infection.   The slime reflects light better than a dry skin.  The bass can be held in the mouth or by placing the hand around the head and squeezing on the gill plates.  A bass should never touch any part of the boat.  It should be held by an angler with wet hands.  Keep the bas healthy.  You caught him.  Let some one else experience the same bass.  Come back when that bass is larger and catch him again.


     When releasing the bass- drop him into the water.  The bass will immediately swim off.  If you have to revive the bass by holding him in the mouth and moving him back and forth in the water- you held him too long.  Most of the time with this type of release the bass stays by the boat.  Just drop the bass into the water and he will be gone. 


Photographing the Bass


     There is nothing like a good photo!  Photographing  fish is an art in itself.  These few hints can help to make your photo part of a memory of a lifetime.  A tape measure to determine length and girth is a must when catch and release fishing as is a good camera.  Make the attributes of bass shine!  First, dip the bass in the water.  This does two things-it allows the bass to breathe-and it will make the bass shine in your photo.  Have the light on the bass.  In other words-face the sun.   Hold the bass in front of your body.  Make sure the camera operator can see the bass and your face.  The closer the camera operator is to the bass and the farther the bass is from you the larger it looks.


     Dip the bass between photos.   Take at least three photos to be sure you have a good one.  If you like holding the bass so it is across your body-be sure the anal fin is not under your hand.  Your hand should be behind the anal fin.  This makes the belly of the bass appear its true size.  It gives a true perspective of the bass’s length.  Dip the bass between photos.  Let him breathe.  Make him shine.   If the bass is bleeding be sure the bleeding is on the side closest to you and not to the camera.



The Wild Shiner


     Knowing your prey is important.  It is equally important to know your bait when fishing with wild shiners.  A wild shiner grew up in the wild.  Hence, “wild” in the name.  There is a difference between hatchery shiners and wild shiners.  A wild shiner knows what a bass is and it knows what a bass is going to do to it.


     The catching process for  getting the wild shiners involves baiting up a hole and then netting the bait.  Either by a cast net or a net in position.  The process  can be harmful to the shiner.  Good care by the “catcher” is important.  Clean nets, good bait, and clean live wells are extremely important.  Sometimes the bait is chemically treated to be lathargic and sometimes not.  The bait, once caught, travels from the boat to the wholesaler.  Then by truck again to the tackle store.  Each step involves netting.  Each step is important to the angler.  The angler wants and expects the best bait he can get.


     the perfect shiner has been allowed to be cured.  Today,  the availability of bait, the increase of fuel costs, the reduction in profitability, the available help supply, and the demand for the bait have created a situation where the shiner does not have time to get through the curing process.


     Curing gets all the junk out of a shiner.  It becomes hardy.  It also turns a light green color.  All shiners are  “golden”.   They turn lighter when cured.   So...”golden” ones are shiners that have not been cured.


     When the angler goes into the tackle shop he should look at the shiner tank.  If the shiners are in a “huddle” they are probably cured.  If they are swimming around hap hazardly they are drugged.  If the shiners are swimming from end to end OR they are jumping.  Get some-get to the lake.  The bass are doing the same thing!


     The tackle shop person has to net the shiners.   Next they go in the anglers livewell.  This can be a detremental process or an improvement process.  Lots of air.  Lots of water circulation will maintain and sometimes improve the bait.  Water circulation includes the addition of new water.  BAIT CARE-FRESHWATER-BAIT PROTECTOR ( is an extremely effective chemical in imporving and maintaining wild shiners.


     The quality of the bait has a direct relationship with the success of the angler.   Better Bait equals more and bigger bass.   Many times better bait makes a dramatic difference!!    The angler should have every advantage possible!


Locating Shiner Fishing Holes



     When locating a place to fish with wild shiners consider what the bass are doing; where the bass are doing it; and what effect weather conditions may have on the bass.  Considering these factors will eliminate some areas and indicate fishing others.


     A floating mat will almost always hold some bass.  Scattered grass will hold bass.  Wood will hold bass.  In Florida bass prefer grass before wood.  When there is a cold front bass lock on to grass.  If it gets colder they lock on to wood in grass.  Trolling the shiners through areas and reading the shiners will identify areas with bass.  They will talk if you listen and read.  Trolling areas with scattered bass works.  If it gets cold-pay attention to the bait.  And when the bait moves hang around the area.


     If you have fished artificial lures in the area and caught a bass or two in specific small area you can go and anchor up.  The bass are probably more plentiful than one or two.  Bass do not live alone.  Be sure this is what you want to do.  The wild shiners may spoil the bass.  They may not bite your artificials any more.


     If you are familiar with bass routes then anchor up on an intersection or holding spot.  The bass will come through.  Maintaining a constant supply of bait once they start biting will keep the bass in your area, draw more, and you will run out of bait.  That is a good thing!


“Bass will bite Wild Shiners in the fog also.”




      Catching  bass with wild shiners is action packed.  The knowledgable and skilled wild shiner angler has a body of knowledge and a variety of techniques upon which to rely.


 About the Author


     Professional Guide and Angler Hugh Crumpler has helped his clients catch thousands upon thousands of trophy bass with wild shiners.  Hugh’s legendary expertise with wild shiners stems from Florida guiding that began in February of 1988 and continues through the future.  Want to catch a trophy?  As Hugh says:  “You could be next!”


     Hugh’s website is www.HughCrumpler.Com  His e-mail is and his land line is 321-722-3134.