Live baiting with ‘Bait King’

Leeches are the most plentiful of all the baits. It seems they are natural to all bodies of water, including creeks, rivers, and lakes. And they can be left in a container of water for a long time without food.
Walleyes love leeches almost all year round and they are classified as a universal bait for walleyes.
Leeches inhabit lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams throughout most of North America. All leeches have sucking disks at both ends. The mouth of located in the smaller disk at the head end.
Leeches use the larger disk on the tail only for clinging to objects.
Most leeches eat dead animals. But some species, such as the horse leech, digest the skin of live animals and feed on the tissue.
A few kinds, such as the medicine leech, are called blood-suckers. They have jaws which actually cut through skin to reach blood vessels and tissue.
Not all kinds of leeches attract fish. The leech species that live in waters with gamefish populations usually make poor bait. Most game fish, for instance, ignore horse leeches. Either the scent of the horse leech repels fish, or it lacks the action of bait leeches.
Fish eat many types of leeches, but only the ribbon leech is widely used as bait. A few anglers have found tiger leeches to be good panfish bait.
A ribbon leech has a firmer body than a horse leech, and body situations or grooves that are less pronounced. The colour of ribbon leeches varies from pure black to light brown (some have a brown or olive background with many black spots).
Leeches are easy to keep alive. They are not as sensitive to temperature changes as minnows, and they require relatively little oxygen. Leeches can be kept alive until fall, even without food, but they should be allowed to clean themselves.
Leeches that develop a slime on them are in need of a place to clean themselves. Leeches that are held in stagnant water over long periods of time need to rid themselves of waste. If they were in a stream or pond, they would burrow into the sand to clean themselves.
Many anglers leave their leeches in a plastic container in the refrigerator and find them in a slimy smelly mess.
To prevent this from happening, I like a new product called the Bait King. It is a cylindrical plastic container with a screw-on lid that has a screen inside it.
When I have it tied off the dock, I will put about a cupful of sand in the bottom. Now the leeches can rub against the sand or the screen to clean themselves, and they stay the same temperature as the water.
The leech will not curl up because of the temperature shock, and selection is easier, plus it will give you more time to fish.
The Bait King can be stored in a cooler or trolled alongside your boat. Trolling it alongside the boat changes water and allows the leeches to move about ridding themselves of waste.
Summer is the best time to fish with leeches because their population is on the decline. By mid-summer, most of the adult leeches have deposited cocoons and die off.
When the leech enters the walleye’s environment, they usually are attacked.
Also, in the summer time, the leech will wiggle more below a bobber than a worm. When drifting or trolling, anglers will catch suspended walleyes on floating jigheads and slip sinker rigs.
As you can plainly see, the leech is a universal walleye live bait.
Leeches can be below a float, on a Lindy Rig, or tipped on the end of a Fuzz-E-Grub Jig, but all in all, they are fish-catching magnets that I never leave home without.
Give them a try, and you will always have some natural bait when you hit the water this summer.

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