CRESTVIEW — If you fish, you know that even the cheapest bait isn’t so cheap anymore.
An 8 ounce pack of frozen shrimp costs almost $4 — and that’s the cheap stuff. Fresh water baits also are rising in price.
So what’s an angler to do to offset the rising costs?
Well, you could purchase a cast net and catch your own bait. Cast nets start at 3 feet and can go up to 12 or 14 feet for mullet.
Crestview High School outdoor education instructor Ernie Martin, an old pro at throwing a cast net, offers a few tips that, with a little practice, will have a beginner throwing like a veteran in no time.
“The priority is to start out with a small net,” Martin said. “Start with a 5-foot bait net and work on it."
The bigger the net is, the more force and spin you must generate when throwing it so the bottom will open up and spread properly, he said.
Whether on a boat, dock or wading out toward bait fish, the technique for throwing a net remains the same. However, when wading, hold the net higher when you start your throw so it will stay above the water, Martin said.
The net may look intimidating in the beginning, but the movements are familiar.
"If you can throw a Frisbee (disc), I can get you to throw a cast net and open it up within five minutes of practicing with me," Martin said.
It'll be worth it.
After mastering the net-throwing technique, and learning when and where to find bait, you should be able to fill your bait bucket in one or two throws, Martin said.
That is, if you're fast enough.
“You have to remember that bait fish usually survive by getting out of the way in a hurry,” Martin said. “The last one to move is usually the first one eaten.
"Sometimes you have to be able to throw (the net) at a moving target.”
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO NET CASTING
1. Gather the net in your left hand (right hand if you are left-handed). Make loops with the main line in the hand you are going to hold the net. The loops should be about 16 inches in diameter. After gathering all the main line, the net will start coming into your hand. Make one loop with the net and then make "kind of a little bowl at the top" so you have everything in your left hand, Martin said.
2. Open the back of the net by throwing it over your left shoulder or holding between your teeth. "I will take the lead line that is closest to my body and put the lead line between my teeth," Martin says. "I’m just basically holding the back of the net open with a very little bit of pressure with my teeth."
3. Make three or four throws over you right arm to even out the net. (Use left shoulder if you are left-handed). This opens the back half of the net.
4. Slide your right hand inside the net and gather it up. Then bring your right and left hands less than 6 inches apart. Youshould be able to look down around your waist and see the back half of the cast net open.
5. With a twist of the hips and a snap of the wrist, throw the net. Build centrifugal force, as if you were throwing a Frisbee disc; the net will feed out of your left hand and it should open.
Want to learn more about throwing a bait net? Call Ernie Martin, 758-6473.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.