Along the Gulf Coast, all the sought-after species, from speckled trout and redfish to kingfish, cobia and tuna, zero in on liveys.
In Gulf of Mexico waters, everything eats shrimp. You definitely don’t want to come back as one, if there is such a thing as reincarnation. While shrimp certainly appeal to inshore species, they’re also effective on larger game well away from shore. I’ve used big shrimp to catch red snapper, amberjack, dorado, tarpon, kings and cobia.
Free-lining is one of the most effective ways to fish live shrimp, especially around jetties. The trick is in the rigging. Tie on a No. 2 treble hook, run one point through the shrimp’s head (under the horn, in front of the dark spot), or hook the bait through the tail, then pinch on the line — about a foot above the hook — a split shot heavy enough to get the shrimp down the water column to where the trout and reds are feeding. This same tactic has caught some pretty healthy tarpon along the Port O’Connor jetties on the middle Texas coast.
Another effective tactic is fishing a shrimp, hooked through the tail, on a ⅛- to ¼-ounce lead-head jig. The fact that you can jig it over and around structure at various depths, regardless of how strong the current is moving, makes it deadly around shell reefs, wrecks, and offshore oil and gas platforms.
Speaking of deadly, a live croaker fished over a reef, at the jetties, or in the surf is an absolute killer for trout and reds. Croakers are sold by the dozens at bait camps along the Texas coast from about June through October….