How to Trawl Fish for Bait

How to Trawl Fish for BaitTrawl net fishing provides an efficient way for anglers to obtain bait fish. To maximize your time on the water, choose a depth that will accommodate the size of your trawl net. Cast your trawl net down to the bottom and wait to collect your bait fish.


Difficulty: Moderate

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Trawl net
Step 1
Drop the trawl net into the water. Release the net from both sides of your boat, at the rear. Anchor weights are attached to the net, which will allow it to drop to the depth you want.
Step 2
Trawl the net from the rear of your boat. It will drag along the sea floor or at a mid-point between the floor and the surface, gathering bait fish such as cod, flounder and shrimp. A slow-but-steady speed is ideal, so that the trawl net creates less water disturbance and catches more bait fish.
Step 3
Lift the trawl net from the water. Pull one side of the netting from the water by hand and then move to the opposite side of the boat to pull out the other side of the net. You may need an assistant, depending on the size of the trawl net. (For a large commercial-size trawl net, a hydraulic platform may be necessary for retrieval.)
Step 4
Fillet and chunk bait fish. Store extra bait fish in coolers. Larger fish prefer bait that is alive, so fish live bait within a few hours.

Tips & Warnings

Contact the Department of Fish and Game in your state to check on local laws regarding trawl fishing. Trawl nets crush fish and plant life at the bottom of oceans and lakes, so some states prohibit the use of trawl nets to protect non-target fish such as sharks, turtles and seabirds from harm.


Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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