How To Use A Bait Pump

Sea fishing is a lot of fun; it's even more rewarding catching fish on freshly caught bait. To this end, using a bait pump is a great help if you fish coastal or estuary environments. So what is a bait pump and how do you use it?

A bait pump is a metal tube with a handle on one side and a pump mechanism that is not dissimilar to a bicycle pump. Pumps tend to be about 600 - 800 mm long and about 50 mm in diameter. They can last forever without much maintenance.

Pumping for Lugworm
First, you will need to find a venue to pump your worms. It could be a good idea to go there and watch a few pumpers as a first step.

Fisheagle Bait Pump
Pumps are used mainly for black or yellowtail lugworms. It is helpful to treat your pump washers to a small drop of washing-up liquid and water before pumping – on most models with foam washers, this increases suction. Adjust the suction with the wing nut or nut at the pump end as most pumps work well reasonably loose.

Place your palm over the end of the pump and pull the handle to gauge the best setting for maximum suction and ease of operation.

Heavy Duty Handles
Now find a stretch of sand with black lug or yellowtails – first, select the most extended spring low tides to pump. Ideally, you want to go to the venue just before low water. In many places, the worms rise in the sand as it dries, and pumping when the tide returns are always more effective than when it is going out. Find a worm cast – those of blacks are almost perfectly circular. Place the pump at a slight angle 5ins or so from the cast. Pull the pump slowly, allowing it to be drawn into the sand. In most cases, the worm will appear after the first pump – if it doesn’t you can try a second, but no more.

Shakespeare Alvey Bait Pump
Casts in water are usually easier to extract because the pump has more suction. Sandy coloured casts may be nearer the surface, but there are no hard and fast rules.

Pump slowly and methodically, and alter the angle and distance from the cast if you are missing worms. Sometimes wind direction and air pressure make the worms sit at odd angles, while water, sun or frost on the sand may force them deeper. Pumping is a bit like casting. It’s not easy, and it takes practice.

When you use a pump, it is also useful to have a sieve system to pump to. A sieve allows silt and mud to wash through while leaving the bait behind. A floating sieve can be constructed by lashing a sizeable fine strainer inside a car inner tube, enabling it to float in the shallows. This floats and can be towed behind you as you move around the beach or estuary.

Bait Bucket
After a days use, wash the pump in fresh water. As most bait pumps work using the water as a lubricant, make sure you tighten the washers before pumping and loosen after use. This will help increase their longevity. Tighter washers also affect how much pull you get out of the sand. If too tight, the handle will pull back as you are trying to pump; too loose and you will not be able to pump out your bait.

This article was brought to you in association with Sea Angler Magazine.