Southern Mooneye (Hiodon selenops)

 

Background:

The mooneye is a premium bait. It has a solid silver body with very little color on the back. It is found in most of the Tennessee river system. However, it is rarely seen or used as a bait as it is very elusive. Their feeding habits resemble that of a trout and I believe they fill the role of trout in the rivers which are slightly too warm to sustain large trout populations. Mooneye have the bodies of shad, but the mouths and feeding habits of trout. They feed primarily on insect larvae and emergent flies on the surface. They attain a length of about 14 inches, but 8-12 is the common range.

Availability:

Usually more abundant where some current is present. Very abundant below dams. There are some in the open lakes, but they are very hard to locate.

Acquisition:

Mooneyes can be caught in cast nets, but they have an innate ability to escape them. This is because they do not school like shad and herring. The best method to catch them is to angle for them with ultra light spinning tackle. This does take time, but believe me, you will be rewarded. To locate mooneyes, the water must be nearly flat, or you need to be in sufficient current (1-2 mph) where they tend to congregate. Use crickets, worms, or trout bait and fish it about 1.5-2 feet under a float. They seem to like a little action on the bait and sometimes will strike the float. It is of utmost importance to react quickly to a strike because mooneye can VERY quickly swallow the hook and render themselves useless as bait.

Storage:

Much like gizzard shad in fish/gallons of water. They will keep overnight quite well in the proper tank. They are very clean fish and sometimes a filter is not necessary.

 

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