One of the most commonly used baits when fishing coastal waters, both inshore and offshore, is live shrimp. I have fished with live shrimp countless times and have had the opportunity to catch a wide variety of fish species. Live bait shrimp is widely available at bait supply stores but can also be caught with cast nets. With that being said, it is important to understand how to bait live shrimp on a hook. When it comes to baiting shrimp on hooks, a couple of options are available. Here is how to bait your hook with live shrimp. 

Methods To Obtain Live Shrimp For Fishing

Unquestionably, the first step in fishing with live shrimp is locating live shrimp. I either purchase live shrimp from a bait shop or throw a cast net. Making the decision on buying or catching is challenging. 

Casting A Net For Live Shrimp

Undoubtedly, one of the most effective methods to catching live bait quickly is throwing a cast net. However, with that being said, live shrimp must be present in order to fill up a bait bucket. 

I had expected shrimp to be present in my usual spots, and much to my surprise, they were not around. Unfortunately, this cost me more time because I had to venture to the bait shop. 

The most effective time to catch live shrimp with a cast net is during low tide in shallow water. I find brown shrimp on mud flats with less than two feet of water. During high tide, the shrimp are more widespread, making it challenging to catch large quantities in a single throw. 

Importantly, you’ll need to start up the boat livewell or bring along a bait bucket with an aerator pump. No sense in letting the shrimp die as they are more effective alive. 

Visiting A Local Bait Shop

One of the most simple means of loading up on live shrimp is by visiting a local bait shop. However, this comes with a catch. Oftentimes, the shrimper has not gone back out to catch shrimp. For this reason, I pulled up to the bait shop only to be surprised by the fact that they had already been sold out from the day before. 

Unquestionably, you will need to bring a bait bucket and aerator pump. The pump and bucket will keep the bait alive and kicking until you get back to the boat. 

I suggest calling ahead in order to be sure that live bait is available. If this is the case, make your best effort to throw a net for shrimp or another type of live bait. 

Methods For How To Bait Live Shrimp

When it comes to baiting live shrimp, I recommend two different approaches. The most important note to mention is avoiding killing the bait shrimp in the process. For this reason, you never want to make contact with the organs or squeeze the shrimp tightly. 

Baiting Live Shrimp Through The Tail

I’ll admit I don’t often use this technique, but I know anglers who prefer this method. Baiting the shrimp through the tail can be done with nearly any type of hook, including a circle hook or jighead. 

To bait a live shrimp through the tail, ensure to place the hook forward of the tip of the tail in the meaty section. Unfortunately, anglers make the mistake of placing the hook too far back; it falls off when casting. 

The position of the hook can be done in one of two ways. First, run the tip of the hook from the center of the top down through the bottom. Position the shrimp so it is at the center of the hooks bend. 

A second option is running the hook from one side of the body through the other. Again, forward of the back of the tail. 

The few times that I have hooked shrimp through the tail, I prefer placing the hook from the top through the bottom. 

Baiting Live Shrimp Beneath The Horn

The most common method for hooking live shrimp is beneath the horn on the top of the head. Nearly every angler uses this technique comparatively to the tail. 

It should be noted that you are likely to kill if the hook is improperly placed. The vital organs are positioned directly beneath the horn along the head. 

I will say that placing the hook in the exact position is difficult, especially for inexperienced anglers. When the hook is placed too deep, the shrimp is killed. Alternatively, when the hook is placed too shallow, it comes free when casting. 

The horn is the most elevated part of the shrimps head and extends out with a sharp point on the end. 

To place the hook properly, run the hook from one side of the shrimp to the other. The hook tip should be positioned above the dark spot, which is the organs beneath the horn. However, keep the hook deep enough below the horn to prevent it from ripping through the top of the head. 

Once you get the hang of hooking the shrimp properly, it will become a breeze. 

Now You Know How To Bait Live Shrimp 

When it comes to baiting live shrimp, I recommend trying both methods. Trying both methods will allow you to determine which is most effective. Again, I prefer through the head, but that does not mean you won’t find more success through the tail. The key point is to keep the shrimp alive and kicking as it beats out fishing previously frozen shrimp. Lively baits lead to an increased number of strikes.