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prawns (graphic)

Prawns article by John Staten

Prawns are easy to collect and one of the deadliest baits that you are ever likely to find.  If you think about it, prawns or shrimps are found just about everywhere around the British Isles, they are abundant, most species of fish like them, they are full of scent, they have an unmistakable look and yet most anglers dismiss them or have never tried them as a sea fishing bait.  Collecting prawns or shrimps is not difficult at all, though you do need a decent net.  You can find them around rocky pools, try to stay away from rock pools with masses of floating weed about it and you want to be looking for pools that don't completely dry out as the tide recedes. 

Try dangling a drop net over the side of a pier or jetty with a small piece of fish in it, you may even end up with the odd peeler crab or even a decent edible crab.  Once you collect your prawns you will need to keep them alive, you can easily do this with a decent bait bucket and aeration pump.
The Salt Bucket by Shakespeare at around £18.00 is ideal for your live prawns utilising an aeration pump.  It has it's own pouch for an aerator pump, has a lid which helps to keep the sun from cooking your prawns and also stops them from jumping out! 

It can also be used for storage of baits such as crab, sand eels, ragworm and lug worm. It's easy enough to wash it out and it is also collapsible.  You can pick up a battery operated pump for around the £9 mark. If you do use a bait bucket check the temperature of the water on a regular basis.  If keeping at home you could drop in the odd ice cube to lower the water temperature and don't over-crowd them.

Prawns will attract the attention of the likes of wrasse, bass, black bream, whiting, pollack, coalfish, gurnard, flatfish, rays especially thornbacks, plus other species.  A live prawn kicks and flicks through the water attracting all the fish in the vicinity to investigate what is going on. They are one of the best effective baits available if fished properly.

A couple of methods employed to present them on a hook is to use a thin wire type aberdeen hook about size 3/0, you will need to vary the hook size depending on what fish you want to catch. A larger hook obviously hampers the prawns swimming ability, so it's a case of hooking power against natural presentation, you will need to be the judge.
The prawn can be fished under a float or fished on the bottom on the sea bed.

If float fishing, then insert the hook in the first segment above the tail from underneath the prawn and push it right through, that will allow the prawn to stay alive for quite some time and let it 'swim'.  You could go as high as the fourth segment but my preference is just above the tail.  Any approaching fish will make it more lively and you will have a better chance of attracting the fish to the bait.
If you are fishing over rock, rock gulley's or along a stretch of beach, try fishing the prawn within a couple of metres of the sea bed.  If needing to get the bait out any sort of distance I use a lemon jiffy filled with candle wax.  It weighs about two ounces depending, floats to perfection and being yellow stands out against the blue of the sea, good if you are fishing at dusk or dawn.  

I make mine with a length of wire pushed right through, make a loop at either end but place a small barrel swivel on either end first.  I then attach a hook snood to one end, this can be to the length of your choosing and then use a snap swivel on the end of my main line to attach to the other end of the wire.  I also use a couple of very small shot leads just above the hook to keep the bait down in the water but that's a personal preference.  We all find our own preferred method.  If you get lots of missed bites then try changing the hook to a small treble and mount the prawn on one of the barbs.

If fishing on the bottom and casting with any sort of power at all then mount the prawn on the hook by pushing the hook through the first segment above the tail, pull the hook right through, insert the hook back through the same segment and pull right through, reinsert the hook through the fourth or fifth segment and pull right through, insert the hook back through the same segment and pull right through, insert the hook through the segment just behind the head but making sure you miss the black spot.  If you do go through the black spot you will instantly kill the prawn!
You should now have a prawn with the line nicely laid along the underneath side it's body and with the tip of the hook protruding out from just below it's head.  This should now make it secure enough to cast.

Happy fishing.

Author's Resource: Sea Fishing Articles by John Staten.
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