Catching your own bait is a great way to save money and get the full experience of fishing, and especially this time of year, it’s usually pretty simple to find baitfish near our fishing holes. Being skilled at throwing a cast net is one of the quickest ways to load up on a day’s supply of bait, but knowing how to throw it is only half the battle. Knowing when to throw it can be just as important.

Capt. Jimmy Price of Southport’s Wildlife Bait and Tackle (910-457-9903) has seen plenty of anglers get frustrated when trying to catch bait, even those who are very adept at throwing the net, and even though plenty of baitfish are in the area. He knows the reason, and has a simple solution for these occasions.

“We’ve all seen this. A big school of baitfish is swimming towards a guy. He’s standing there ready with his cast net, and just as they are about to swim right in front of him, he rears back and tosses the net. The school looks like a million baitfish, but when he pulls the net in, he’s got three or four minnows. What went wrong?!” he said.

“It’s simple. Those baitfish are always on the run from something. They’ve got to have good eyesight to stay alive, and if you can see them, I guarantee they can see you too. When you toss the net straight at them, they’re going to see you move, and they’re going to see that net. They’ll scatter right quick,” said Price.

“The trick is this. Get ready when you first notice that school is headed your way. Don’t wait for them to get too close. Go ahead and get ready, then stand completely still. Don’t move a muscle. Let those baitfish swim right past you. Don’t even throw it when they’re beside you. Wait until they pass you, then toss the net. Baitfish don’t have eyes in their butts. They won’t see you or the net once they pass you. That’s the way to catch a day’s worth of bait with a single cast,” he said.