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Thread: Help identifying bait fish

  1. #1
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    Default Help identifying bait fish

    So this is really going to suck as I don't have a photo, so a description is the best I can do. Please bear with me.

    I'm in SE Alaska and see these small baitfish schooling up in coves around these parts. These fish are found in very shallow water. The schools often hug up in tight next to shore. Some folks call them Needlefish as they have long pointy noses. But a Google search for "Alaska Needlefish" didn't turn up any useful results. Turns out Needlefish is a pretty generic term for any needle looking fish found throughout the world. Some folks said they're Sand Lance, but I pulled up Google photos and Sand Lance noses aren't pointy like these fish I'm seeing. Also, definitely not herring or hooligan.

    Any help appreciated.

  2. #2
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    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/sp...cSandLance.pdf

    These are the ones you'll see out at False Outer balled up.

  3. #3
    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    Your description is very vague. How long were they? What color? Any distinguishing marks such as stripes, spots etc. Based on just the long "pointy" nose, it could be a bay pipefish Syngnathus leptorhynchus
    Your bait stinks and your boat is ugly

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    Terminator,
    I have been working on a sand lance trolling fly. While looking for images I found this video. It is excellent under water video of spawning sand lance. Take a look at this video to see if this is the bait fish you have seen.
    dragginflies

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1xmRDspELY

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the help guys. The fish I'm seeing seem a closer match to the pipefish that FishGod mentioned. But I'm still not 100% sure. I think I might try to jig one up next time I'm out and get a photo.

  6. #6
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    Seen much for herring out and about, I haven't been out on the water yet this year? I'm thinking of stocking the freezer with bait (and food, pickled herring mmmmm).

  7. #7
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    AFT - Good luck trying to jig-up the fish you describe, I suspect the jig hooks will tear-through their bodies. Trying to jig any of the species we refer to as "needlefish" is very frustrating because they are fragile. If you find any of these fish in the stomachs of salmon you are catching - slow-trolling a thin [half-inch wide] strip of herring, or a cutplug of herring with the belly cavity trimmed-off will do a pretty decent job of replicating a "needlefish".

  8. #8

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    I get mine mid-summer when they come up on sandy beaches in sheltered bays to spawn. You'll find lots of them isolated on shore and still flopping around. Just watch the sea gulls to find the action.

    As for baiting with them, we have a nice handy way. Salt or brine them, then cut them into chunks to shove up inside "needle fish" hoochies. It's so standard among my circle of friends, I thought everyone did it.

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