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 angler’s hook.
Sandeels can be purchased from many places around the UK. I get mine from the River Teign, which produces good quality eels which are nice and lively. It is also convenient since they can be ordered in advance from Trevor Hall on telephone number 01626 777302. There are also several livebait containers available on the market though they can be quite hard to find. Some, like the flow-troll illustrated here, are designed to be towed – at slow speeds – behind boats, with the weights and the holes ensuring a steady supply of fresh water.
When I am collecting sandeels, I usually start by digging a trench. Then, as soon as I find one, I start to dig in a circle, popping any that I find into a bucket to keep them alive. It can, however, take a long time to get enough for a reasonable bassing session.
If you live near to a beach where sandeels are netted and sold, I really would point you in the direction of the netsman. They tend to be very reasonable.
Once you have caught, or bought, your sandeels, there are two ways of hooking them, for which you need two different types of hook. One way is to nick them on by the head, passing the point through a fold of flesh just behind the eyes. This is the way that I prefer, using a large, wide-gape hook such as a 4/0 496 BB.
Another method which some people prefer is to use a long shank aberdeen hook, threading it through the fish’s mouth, out of the gills and then nicking the stomach lightly with the point of the hook. I don’t, personally, like this method since it only takes a light touch to rip the hook though the jaw of the eel and ruin it – and quite likely your trace to boot, for the sandeel will spin and twist on the retrieve. That doesn’t happen when you nick them just behind the eyes.
Hopefully the diagram below should make both methods of hooking clear.
Sandeels - a great bait for bass!