Sandeels are one of the deadliest baits for bass that you will ever encounter. They form a good part of its staple diet and, as such, are readily accepted when they are offered on the anglerís hook.
An alternative method of keeping them alive is to use large buckets and aerators. The stones that come with these aerators are useless in salt water, however, so you need to get rid of them. Throw them away and replace them with wooden ones from a pet shop. You will then need to get some lead strip, also available from pet shops, and wrap enough around the tubing to sink the airstone to the bottom of the bucket.
Put several holes in the lid of your bucket, with just one big enough for the tubing to pass through before you connect it to the aerator. Seal the lid tightly. (If you donít put the extra holes in the lid then air pressure inside the bucket builds up to the point where the pump cannot work.)
If you are really keen, then you could have a go at collecting some sandeels for yourself. They are present on most beaches from time to time, but you do need to know where to find them, which is not always easy.
Professional netters use courges to keep the sandeels alive.
Getting hold of live sandeels can be difficult but, fortunately, there are many places around the country where they are netted and then offered for sale, being kept alive in the water in big wooden containers called courges. In these cases then my advice to you is to make the most of it. You will not, with the possible exception of prawns, find a finer bass bait.
Keeping them alive, for short periods of time, is not too much of a problem but longer periods will require large tanks and a proper set-up.
For short journeys one of the best ways of keeping them healthy is to sandwich them in layers of wet newspaper. I start by putting a few ice packs on the floor of a large container, then covering them over with a layer of wet newspaper, then some eels, another layer, more eels and so on until all your eels are stored.
Sandeels - a great bait for bass!
The first thing to do is to have a look on the beach and see if there is a stream which runs into the sea. If there is then that is a very good starting point for your explorations. The second is to take yourself down towards the low tide mark, starting to look for the eels about halfway between the high tide and the low tide mark. (I am assuming here that you are looking on a spring tide; neap tides probably wonít be worth bothering with.) Once there you will need to start digging or scratching around with a vingler, which is a special type of hook adapted for catching sandeels. (Personally I donít like them, since they seem to damage or kill a lot of the eels.)