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>> Using mussels as bait [topic: previous/next]
PostPosted: Sun Jul 20, 2008 8:17 am
Ken Jones

Posts: 9780
Location: California

Date: February 22, 2002
To: PFIC Message Board
From: leony
Subject: How to use a live mussel for bait

A live mussel always closes its shell tightly. I could insert a knife in the back of the shell, cut it open, the carefully peel off the meat. But that's too much work. I am wondering if there is an easier way... like soaking the mussel in the hot water for a little while, has anyone tried this? Does a "half-cooked" mussel like this work as well as the very fresh ones?

Posted by eelmaster

A couple other questions. I generally use shrimp, squid, or octopus as bait. Using mussels, should you rap them in mesh or something to help keep them on the hook? Also has anyone ever used those bottled raw oysters that you see in the fish section of Safeway... looks like it may work well. What do yall think? Monte

Posted by Rock Hopper

I have, Monte. They are mush and it was impossible to keep them on the hook (bottled Safeway ones) even with thread. Some kind of mesh might work for those like you mentioned.

Posted by caffeinehigh

How to use a live mussel for bait? You cook that sucker half way done, Im gonna eat it!!!!

Posted by blennyboy

Get yourself a shucking knife (a barely sharpened, round ended piece of steel with a wooden handle--pretty cheap at a bait shop). Last thing you want to do is nick the edge of a good knife on the shell. Actually that's the second to last. The last thing you want to do is to have a sharp knife slip off the shell and shuck your palm...so at least don't use anything but a shucking knife when shucking in the classic technique (... les poissons, les poissons, hee hee heh hawnh hawnh hawnh!). I shuck beforehand or just shuck them as I go. This is for pier fishing though or mediocre shore casting. I have no idea how to keep them on the hook (save for mesh) for really winging it. That said, I've had better luck keeping a well hooked mussel on the hook than a soft anchovy when casting out from the rocks.

Posted by baitfish

Use baitholder hooks and then hook and rehook and rehook. Also, do not cast hard, cast as lightly as possible, When I'm fishing them on the pier, I won't even let them drop into the water, I usually fish mussels with spinning gear, so I will pinch the line between my fingers to make sure it hits the water gently. But I can't stress enough that you need to hook it and rehook it and look for the toughest parts of the mussel, usually the ring of flesh around the shell opening is the toughest, and hook them through that and then through the middle of the mussel and again through the ring meat. Keep doing that 4-5 times and that will definitely help keep it on.

Posted by Ken Jones


Posted by boomer334

I use thread

Posted by baitfish

Thread is ok, but some perch can be really fickle. But thread does work in most cases.

Posted by blennyboy

I second (third, fourth, fifth, and sixth) baitfish's recommendation--rehooking multiple times through the foot (the dark "tongue" in the middle) and the mantle (the tough ring of flesh) and when possible using the mantle like "thread" to hold the softer bits (after hooking them once or twice for good measure) usually yields pretty good retention on casting.

Posted by lucy

Opening mussels. I messed around with this until I got it: One edge of the mussel shell is curved; the other is more-or-less straight. One end is pointed; the other is more rounded. Rest the mussel on the straight edge, on a hard surface (but not a slick surface!), and hold it by the pointed end. With a back of a short, thick knife (like a heavy paring knife), whack the curved edge of the shell (toward the rounded end) until the edges break a little and you can insert the point of the knife. Cut down into the mussel, making sure the edge of the knife blade is pointed AWAY from the end of the mussel you're holding onto. There are a couple of muscles inside the mussel that hold the shell together, and you'll be able to tell when you cut through one or both of them because the shell will start to come open. After you've opened the shell, just run the knife around the inside edges of the shell to free the muscular "gasket" that runs all the way around the inside of the shell. (This is the muscular part that you use to hook the mussel.) You can use bait thread or better yet, some kind of mesh, to hold the mussel on the hook. Snookie recommends using bridal mesh. I saw a guy at Muni Pier one day catching perch after perch using mussels, while I sat there catching nothing with pile worms. Good luck!

Posted by gyozadude

Hey, I knew that wedding outfit was good afterall. Instead of taking up space in the attic, I now know what to do with that wedding gown and vail. That's got to be enough lace there for at least 50 casts!

Mussels Another Classic Thread
Posted by Ken Jones
Suggestions and a warning

Date: May 16, 2000
To: Pier Fishing in California Message Board
From: Mark Taylor
Subject: Mussels; any tips? Stay on hook better, etc.

I like to use mussels for bait; they're almost always available, and they catch me fish. But they're a real pain in the neck to shuck and put on the hook, they fall apart easily, and they're a bait-stealing fish's best friend, etc., etc. Anyone got any tips? Thanks, tight lines

Posted by Songslinger

Elastic thread, available at most fabric stores for about a buck. Also, try covering them in non-iodized salt and drain off the excess liquid. They toughen up nicely that way.

Posted by Snookie

Dear Mark, You can keep mussels on your hook by using a fine netting (Bridal net) and tying it around the hook and mussel. It is fine enough that the fish can bite right through the net, and if the fish isn't hooked yet, there will still be some mussel left in the net on the hook. Go to your local fabric store for pieces of the bridal net. It works! Snookie

Posted by Mola Joe

Try leaving the mussel in the shell. I learned this trick watching the big piling perch and rubberlips that would cruise from piling to piling on Hermosa Pier. When the water was clear you could see these big guys near the bottom going back and forth in between the pilings, and if you would put a bait in front of them they would go around it. If you would chum a few open mussels, you could watch the perch come over and slurp the mussel out of the shell, but mussel on a hook they wouldn't touch. I worked in the bait store on the end of the pier and one day the owner showed me a trick he had seen years earlier that I still have never seen anyone use. The rig is like a high low rig with 2 hooks, but they are tied very close to a one ounce flat weight on leaders hanging of your main line, about 3 inches long, with about 4 inches from the weight to the first hook. You open a mussel all the way, one about 3 or 4 inches long, but leave the two sections together. Take the line between the weight and the first hook and wrap it around middle of the mussel where the two sections join, go around 4 or 5 times until your sinker sits right under the bottom of the shell. Then take your hooks and put one in each side of the mussel, right in the middle of the meat. When the mussel hits the bottom, it sits open with the sinker on the bottom of the shells, and the meat exposed turned upward. All you need to do is drop it by the pilings, do not try to cast it. We caught big perch with this rig when nothing else worked.

Posted by Fish Fool

Mark: Magic thread works great for soft baits like shrimp. I am sure it would work well on mussels. All you need to do is put the mussel of the hook, wrap the thread around the bait a few times and you are god to go. The thread is available at just about any store that has fishing supplies. Try you local tackle shop and ask about it. Good Luck and Tight Lines. Fish Fool

Posted by blackbirdpie

Magic thread or the elastic thread Songslinger mentioned, they are the same except the yardage store thread is much stronger and much cheaper. Bridal net, also, a way to skirt the high priced "fish only" stuff they try to foist off on you at the bait store. I have even used regular thread when I had nothing else and it worked fairly well.. but elasticity is preferred.

Posted by Bob

I have used the same rig that Mola Joe mentioned. The only variation it we drill a hole through a 2 ounce flat weight and use a nut and bolt to attach a small clamp to the middle of the weight. The kind you use to hold a stack of paper together. we use the clamp to hold the mussel shell. We attach leaders to the hole in the clamp (the two things you squeeze together to open the clamp. I have caught 20 - 30 perch in 2 hours off the pier in Morro Bay with this rig. Also caught small whitefish, macs, and an octopus! Good luck

Posted by Mark Taylor

That's just the kind of information I was looking for ...and no WD40 involved!

Posted by Snookie
on May 1, 2001
Mussel Quarantine

It is that time of the year again. The mussel quarantine will last until October 31st. The quarantine includes mussels, clams, oysters and scallops, sand crabs, periwinkles, limpets, and barnacles plus a few others that usually aren't used by most of us, and includes all bays and inlets along the California coastline.
Since a lot of us use mussels for fishing, it is important to remember to wash well before picking up food to put in your mouth. If you have any open sores on your hands be careful not to get the mussels on the sores. Gloves may be an option if you have to use mussels, etc.
The symptoms of paralytic shellfish poisoning start 30 minutes later with tingling or burning sensation of lips, gums, tongue, face, perhaps spreading to neck, arms, hands, and legs. There is numbness; loss of motor coordination, with feeling of "lightness", incoherent speech; that one's teeth are loose; temporary blindness; respiratory paralysis and death, a 10 to 35 percent mortality rate within 12 hours.
This is an intoxication that acts upon the nervous system. The nature of the poison still remains a mystery. By the way this toxin has been known since the days of Moses. Snookie

Posted by mobilesuit

Whoa, I was never aware of this. Sometimes when I try to open up a mussel, the broken shell slices my finger. I don't know if I've ever done that during the "quarantine" time, but if I did, would that be really dangerous? Maybe I've been lucky all these times huh...

Posted by Snookie

Yes, you have been lucky. Of course that doesn't mean that all will be carrying the toxin. Snookie

Posted by dennis giasi

No cure. If you cut yourself, you will grow mussels.

Posted by Snookie

There is not an antidote for this toxin as yet.

Posted by dsasaki on February 22, 2002

Back when my dad and I used to fish Dockweiler, an old Japanese guy taught my dad how to shuck the mussels so they come out in one nice piece (like a freshly shucked oyster). The key was to use a paring knife modified so the blade was about two inches long, barely a half inch wide, and rounded on the tip. The actual technique would have to be shown, but it can be practiced using the short blade. It's basic shucking, though. We used size 6 Mustad's, thin wire like Gamakatsu Octopus hooks. We got our mussels from Playa Del Rey. My dad would only shuck the ones that had a little seaweed growing from inside the shell. When he shucked the mussel, the seaweed would come out with the meat, and we would hook the bait around that bit of seaweed. Fishing for corbina at Dockweiler, we thought the bait right in the surf line with 3-oz pyramids and didn't have problems with it falling off. They're more firm when they're really fresh, so my dad shucked them right there on the beach.

Posted by blennyboy

The "seaweed" is the mass of byssal threads--the strong protein threads that the mussel forms to anchor itself to the rock or another mussel. If you open a mussel, you may notice that the foot (the dark "tongue" inside) has a groove--this groove is used to form the thread as the foot contacts the surface of the rock. Over and over this is done and a set of threads is formed.
The threads are also called the "beard"--cleaning mussels for consumption involves "debearding" the mussels by yanking the byssal threads out.
Not surprisingly, environments with more wave force inspire mussels to attach more threads. That's why restaurants love mussels raised on platforms in nice quiet bays--fewer byssal threads to deal with.
I've seen video of them forming these threads--time-lapsed as it takes about half-an-hour for a mussel to deposit a byssal thread--pretty cool stuff.
Interestingly, the proteins in mussel byssal threads are under scrutiny for possible development and application as marine adhesives--few things stick better underwater . . .

Support UPSAC! Preserve pier and shore angling in California.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:23 pm

Posts: 2

Nice post!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:28 am

Posts: 2095
Location: Tulare

Using mussels for pile-perch. Have you ever seen those large pileperch swimming around the pilings picking at something on the pilings? But yet they ignore any and all offerings you try to tempt them with? Try this: Take a 3-way swivel and tie your main line to the top loop, place a small snelled hook (size 6/8/10) to the other two loops, then at the bottom (in-between the two lower loops) install a snap-swivel using a small split-ring to the center ring, install a 1 or 2oz weight to the snap-swivel. Now, take a mussel and split it in two, hold the shell against the weight and put a rubberband around them to secure the shell to the weight, take each hook and hook the flesh on each side of the shell, lower the rig down to where the perch are feeding and get ready! you can usually see the perch pick out the flesh from the shell, as soon as they suck the hook in you gotta set it or they'll spit it back out "BAIT-STEALERS!" You can also smash afew mussels and drop-em over the side to chum the bite...mutt.
Tight lines to all, and to all a good FIGHT!!!
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:06 pm
Rockfish Ninja

Posts: 469

When I lived on the east coast we used mussels for flounder on a sliding rig, some of the most productive and easy fishing I've ever experienced. Easy limits, no distance casting required, and the bait is right there on the rocks next to you, just get to shucking. That was the only challenge, cracking enough shells, getting enough meat to work with, and tying it on the hook. We would try without using thread but the hook eye would always show and reduce bites, see pic.
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