Nowadays most offshore charter operators use pinfish traps on a regular basis. When minnow baits are hard to find, or during winter, many inshore guides use them as well. The traps are baited the evening before the fishing trip and retrieved on the way out. Some may be set on the flats, others a mile or two offshore. Regardless of where you put them, or what you are targeting, these tips may help maximize your catch. You must add weight to the trap. Even the brands that have a bit of lead molded into them need more. You should have at least 4 pounds of steel or lead in each trap or it will drift away when weeds catch on the buoy and the current steadily pulls on it. This is the No. 1 reason folks incorrectly think their traps get stolen. I zip-tie a 5-pound dive weight in each trap and losses are rare. Use more bait than you think you need. We use 2-3 pounds of thread herring in every trap, every night. It doesn’t take long for a handful of pinners to eat a few baits out of a trap and once that bait is gone you are no longer attracting. Sort through the baits from the trap as you pour it into a bucket of water, not into the livewell. Then do it again as you pour the bucket into the well. Fairly often there are illegal undersized fish such as gag grouper or sea bass mixed in among them.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.