Canned clams are not the best baits you can use regardless of the fish you want to catch. This is because most canned clams are cooked in the canning process. If you intend to use clams for bait, we recommend you go for fresh ones.
Nonetheless, canned clams still have an oily scent that can attract fish such as sunfish, crappie, chub, bass, clownfish, mollies, and catfish, be it in smaller proportions. Also, due to their rubbery and chewy texture, it easier to hook them.
Canned clams are also widely accessible. To have any success with canned clams, you must use high-quality ones such as the Atlantic surf clams. They have a more pungent scent compared to hard quahogs mainly stocked in supermarkets.
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When can you Use Canned Clams for Bait?
The best types of bait to use are live baits since their scent and movement are similar to what most fish eat naturally. However, sometimes anglers have a hard time attaching live baits to the hook.
They often need to tie them with elastic threads, which can be challenging, especially for beginners. Since canned clams are usually cooked, they become more solid and easier to attach to any hook.
They are also preserved using a salt or brine solution that makes them hard and easy to hook. However, it would be best to avoid frozen canned clams as they do not produce any scent that might attract fish.
The best time to use canned clams as bait is when the fish are overly aggressive, for example, after it rains, early morning, and after sunset.
Also, try and go for fish with voracious appetites such as sunfish, crappie, chub, bass, clownfish, mollies, and catfish. All the above fish are not picky eaters and can be lured with most baits.
How to Hook and Fish with Canned Clams
To have the best results place the clams on circle hooks since even the small stripers can easily swallow them. Thread the clams to the hook, beginning with the soft part and ending at the muscular region.
Luckily, there is no need to wrap canned clams with elastic threads to keep the soft part in place due to their solid texture.
The best rig to use is the fish-finder rig. However, some anglers prefer the high-low rig. Notably, most anglers use four rods rigged with a circle hook or an 8/0 octopus on a monofilament leader.
The clam’s tongue, along with the innards, gets threaded to the hook multiple times. The innards are essential since they produce most of the scent that will attract fish.
For best results, perform the grenade toss or the roundhouse cast so as to maintain the clams on the hook. When the rod motion is too fast, the bait might rip off.
Additionally, you should ensure that you check and change your bait after every ten minutes if it has been washed off.
However, this time is not fixed since there are factors that come into play, such as strong currents, hooking technique, and quality of the clams.
In case you are using four rods, try to change two baits during each interval.
Using Fresh Clams for Bait
The fresher the bait, the more it attracts fish. That said, fresh clams are better than canned ones. The biggest advantage of fresh clams is that they produce a more pungent scent that will easily attract fish.
However, it is very challenging to hook fresh clams. Once clams die, their meat deteriorates quickly, making it hard to keep them on the hook.
It would be best if you hooked the clams immediately you remove them from their shell. Therefore, it is a race against time.
Fresh clams are great baits, especially when you’re fishing for striped bass. These fish love clams and even come close to the beach in search of them. However, the oily scent that attracts the fish get washed out after about 20 minutes.
You can also use fresh clams for chumming. In this case, you need to use the clam “belly,” which is the soft part behind the foot or ‘tongue.’ Since the bellies are usually discarded, you can be lucky to find a tackle shop that sells fresh clam bellies.
The best time to catch stripers is during fall when they migrate south since they move into the back bays to feed. If you are lucky to buy fresh clam bellies, buy them in bulk- at least a day’s worth.
To make your chum dump the clams into a big cooler and mix them with saltwater. The scent produced by this mixture will draw in the bass.
Therefore, ensure you chum heavily and consistently; otherwise, the fish will move on.
However, chumming can be very dangerous as it can attract sharks– so be careful where and when you use this technique.
Where can you Buy Fresh and Canned Clams?
Anglers can buy fresh clams at tackle shops. These stores usually have several clam packages, including individual clam, half-bushel, and full-bushel.
Individual clams are mainly purchased by surf anglers, while half and full bushels are mainly bought by those who intend to fish for long hours.
A half-bushel tends to consist of a five-gallon bucket that is filled with clams. A full-bushel, on the other hand, is a heavy burlap sack that is filled with clams.
There are several varieties of canned clams available which can be bought from the store. The cost of canned clams varies based on the supply and size. However, the price ranges from $6 to more than $100.
Therefore, canned clams are very expensive, and it would not be worthwhile to use them as bait.
How to Catch Clams
If you cannot buy fresh clams, it is also possible to catch them yourself; however, it is not easy.
Clams are mainly found during low tides. They usually make a small-sized depression on the sea bed. When you locate this depression, shovel around that area, and you might be lucky to find a clam.
Dig a hole about 8 inches as most clams burrow into the ground up to 8 inches. Using a shovel or your hand, remove the clam from the ground, grab it gently and place it in a bucket.
This process can be very labor-intensive, and you might not even catch enough. That is why most clams are commercially farmed.
In conclusion, canned clams do not make good baits. Only use them if you have no other option. Fresh clams, on the other hand, can be very effective if used properly.