Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fishing's Newest Live Bait: The Black Salty

Fishing lure manufacturers spend millions promoting new products. The number of new artificials produced each year is astounding.

Change doesn’t occur as fast in the live-bait market, however. Redesigning a piece of balsa or plastic is much simpler than redesigning a living creature. Consequently, “new and improved” natural baits are seen about as often as 5-pound crappie. That is to say, not very often.

It happens occasionally, though. Advances in bioengineering and aquaculture techniques make it possible to “manufacture” new, never-before-seen creatures, and some of these modernistic mutants are dinner in the eyes of hungry gamefish. Such is the case with the Black Salty, a sensational new live bait gaining fans nationwide.

The Black Salty is technically a goldfish, but this isn’t your garden-variety goldfish. The Black Salty is specially bred and pond-raised by I.F. Anderson Farms, a 50-year-old bait hatchery in Lonoke, Arkansas. Anderson biologists use a proprietary, patent-pending process that enables this freshwater baitfish to stay alive on the hook in saltwater for up to 1-1/2 hours. The fish also are selectively bred to achieve a gold/silver color, which serves well to mimic baitfish from freshwater shad to saltwater mullet.

Proven Fish-Catcher
The Black Salty has impressively proved its mettle on a wide variety of saltwater and freshwater gamefish.

When fishing inshore saltwater, the Black Salty is deadly on speckled trout, redfish, flounder, black drum, Spanish mackerel and many sharks. Black Saltys also account for all popular surface species, including king mackerel, cobia, dorado and bonito, along with red snapper, grouper, amberjack, tuna, tarpon and wahoo. In freshwater, the Black Salty has proven extremely effective for striped bass, hybrid stripers, largemouths and catfish.

“That,” says Anderson Farms owner Neal Anderson, “is just what we’ve managed to determine so far in our field-testing efforts. It’s safe to say if it eats fish, it’ll eat a Black Salty.”

Freshwater Testimony

Brad Wiegmann, a fishing guide on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake, started using Black Saltys when they first became available.

“I’ve used Black Saltys to catch every type of bass swimming in Beaver Lake, including largemouths, smallmouths, spotted bass, stripers, hybrid stripers and white bass,” Wiegmann says. “I rig them like shiners or shad, hooking them through the lower jaw and out through a nostril. You can fish them on a free line or balloon line, drag them behind planer boards or down-line them. They’re great summer baits because they stay alive in the hottest temperatures and live even when dropped into cool, deep water. Black Saltys work great in winter, too, even when the water temperature falls below 50 degrees.

“Black Saltys have many positive attributes,” Wiegmann continues. “I like the fact you can have them delivered straight to your front door. No longer do I have to go out and catch bait before or during a guided fishing trip. Black Saltys also are easy to keep alive. I hold them for days in a 6-gallon aerated bait bucket.”

Great In Saltwater, Too

Saltwater fishing expert Larry Bozka of Seabrook, Texas, has used Black Saltys to catch the full gamut of saltwater species. “From a standpoint of conservation (relieving pressure on locally harvested bait species) to plain-out fish-catching ability, I have been thrilled with the results,” he says. “There are no magic bullets when fish are not feeding or conditions are very poor. That said, and based on experience, I will put the Black Salty up against any traditional live bait on the market in fresh or salt water with all due confidence.”

Black Saltys are available in three sizes. The inshore-size baitfish are 2-1/2 to 3 inches long, with approximately 30 fish to a pound. Offshore Black Saltys measure 4 to 4-1/2 inches, with roughly 15 fish per pound. Magnum, or XL, Black Saltys are 6 to 7-1/2 inches long, with about 10 fish per pound. All are available through a growing network of retail bait dealers or can be ordered via Federal Express overnight shipping (Tuesday and Friday deliveries) by calling 1-877-GO-SALTY (467-2589). Five pounds of inshore-size (12-1/2 dozen baits) or 5 pounds of offshore-size (6-1/4 dozen) can be purchased for around $85, shipping included.

Everything else you might want to know about Black Saltys, including fishing and handling tips, is available by logging on to

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