Castnet for Bunker or Menhaden

Black Pearl Castnets

Few folks would argue the fact that a live bait is the best bait. Procuring this live bait is the difficult part of the equation. Around the Great South Bay and Fire Island Inlet area I fish, live bunker (menhaden) are probably the most widely used. These baitfish gather in large schools and they can be caught using a weighted “snaghook” but this damages the fish and shortens it’s lifespan. In addition, snagging takes a decent amount of time to gather enough bait for a trip.

A castnet is the better option. At any given time of the season I will have two or three nets aboard each with a different mesh size and weight according the size of the baitfish themselves. A stealthy approach and well executed toss can produce enough bait for the entire day in a single shot.

I have commercially made nets as well as custom nets of various mesh/weight combinations. This past season I added a  Black Pearl net to my arsenal. This particular model is from their Gold X-Treme series and features 5/8 inch mesh with 1.9lbs of lead per foot. It is a real beast to throw but the payoff is more than worth it.

The Black Pearl net offers a horn that is divided into sections (pictured above) to keep the braille lines separated and reducing the inevitable tangling. The mesh is a  pliable yet very strong material that really helps the net open to its full range while the extra lead has it sink on the bait school like a ton of bricks. Another nice feature that I believe will help the longevity of this net is the double selvage used to attach the mesh itself to the lead line. This is a high wear point and this is a very nice feature.

On the subject of the leadline, the net employs round marble shaped lead weights at 1 1/2 ounces apiece space evenly along the leadline. Since the method I use to throw the net has me placing the leadline in my teeth I really prefer these type weights as they leave enough room between the weights to actually be able to get a hold of the line.

Castnet for Bunker or Menhaden

Black Pearl Castnets Leadline Detail

I also like the handline on this net. Some other nets I have used the handline was very stiff and was difficult to handle while loading for a throw. The Black Pearl hand line is a supple nylon that coils in your hand very nicely.

This net was a valuable addition. This past year I had bunker in the 5-6inch size range in a local canal that were excellent bait for stripers, weakfish and big fluke. However, the net I normally used for the smaller “peanut bunker” in the 2-3inch size sank too slow for this slightly larger baitfish. A larger and heavier net did catch the bait but also resulted in gilling them due to the larger mesh. My new Black Pearl was added with this size class baitfish in mind and dividends were seen on the very first use as upon lining up the school, one shot filled my livewell with more than I could actually use. One of the few times I found myself releasing bait!!!!

Bottom line, this castnet is a joy to throw, opens very easily, sinks like a rock and catches TONS of bait.



Tight Lines,
Capt Paul