There are few species of fish that are so commonly featured on menus of restaurants such as tilapia. The unique species can be found along the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. They are also caught in brackish waters across the globe. There’s no denying the fact that tilapia are delicious and they’re able to present anglers a rewarding challenge. So, it won’t come as a surprise if you’re wondering how to catch tilapia the right way.
Fishing for tilapia will depend on a lot of factors, including the location (farm or in the wild) and the type of species as there are almost a hundred different species considered part of the tilapia family.
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What is Tilapia?
There are so many interesting things to learn about tilapia aside from the best way to catch them. First of all, tilapia are so popular across the globe that there are thousands of commercial hatcheries that can be found in different parts of the planet.
Also, there is a huge demand for tilapia as the meat has an exceptional taste. Tilapia fillets have a flaky texture which is also why most people prefer them over other species.
It’s a lot more common to find farmed tilapias rather than wild ones, but there are anglers that go out of their way to catch them in the wild as they have a better overall flavor in comparison to farm-raised fish.
These fish have quite the muscle even when they have short and stocky frames. When fully grown, they can weigh up to 8 lbs. Most tilapia species can live up to 10 years when in the wild.
As there are different species of fish, there are some that have vibrant colors while other varieties have a gray or darker black look to them.
How to Fish for Tilapia
Learning how to catch tilapia will involve using unconventional fishing tactics, most especially if you’ll be targeting species that are in the wild.
Use the Right Bait
While it’s true that most species of tilapia will eat just about anything that’s available, the majority of the tilapia species are actually herbivores.
They eat plants, so you won’t have to purchase live bait. When targeting tilapia, most anglers opt for bread balls and corn.
When they’re not spawning, you can appeal to the appetite of tilapia by using bits of dough. You’ll also experience great success using a small hook rigged with corn kernels.
If you want to use an artificial lure, choose one that provides a tight wobble like a shallow-diving plug or lipless crankbait. It works when you try your hand on catching tilapia during the spawning season.
Know the Best Times to Fish
Tilapia are known as species that feed throughout the day. Anglers reported success of landing them at virtually all hours of the day. But, you’ll be most productive around dusk to dawn if you go after the fish.
Spawning season for tilapia is usually during the cooler months. Like most species that spawn in brackish waters, there’s a specific temperature of the water that encourages tilapia to spawn.
The number isn’t always agreed upon in the angling community, but it’s around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use the Right Tackle and Gear
You would want to stick with a lightweight fishing rod and reel setup. It’s not necessarily because the fish are smaller compared to other gamefish around the coast. Instead, it’s because tilapia have a subtle bite which is very hard to detect with heavy gear.
Novice anglers can get frustrated with tilapia when they first head out on the water for the fish as they are able to steal bait without you realizing it. It’s going to take some time, practice, and patience to pick up tilapia’s little tugs and bumps.
Make sure that you never jerk the hook from the mouth of tilapia too early as the fish will require a couple of seconds for it to chew on your bait before the hook goes deep enough in its jaw.
Spinning reels are usually what most anglers choose to use as they allow you to pick up slack in your fishing line easily and quickly as soon as you get a glow-in-the-dark lure in the correct location.
Fish in the Best Spots for Catching Tilapia
One of the most common questions of anglers targeting the species is where to fish tilapia. Tilapia, usually found in a shallow part of brackish waters, can be spooked easily.
They will flee and won’t return for several hours when they think they’re in danger. Silence and caution will be necessary when you go after tilapia. You can easily waste hours without any success if you’ve managed to scare them off.
When they spawn, the fish will form large schools and linger in bedding areas that have craters at the bottom of a waterway. They will use the beds for laying eggs and guarding them until the eggs hatch and the fry are able to fend for themselves.
The beds can be located in shallow waters close to some kind of vegetation. They’re also in rivers, freshwater lakes, and of course, ponds where tilapia are stocked.
Tilapia gravitate towards shallow, brackish water throughout the year where they are safe from predators. Find some kind of vegetation that’s in shallow water and in an area wherein fresh meets saltwater as there’s a good chance tilapia are hanging around.
Tilapia fishing is pretty easy if you have the right bait, rod and reel setup, and location. Just remember to muster up some patience and stay as quiet and relaxed as possible so you don’t spook the fish.
The information in this quick guide on how to catch tilapia can give you a head start in catching the fish and making delicious dishes out of them.