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Ballyhoo or balao, can you tell the difference? There are supposed to be three species in the Gulf of Mexico, but I'm not going to bore you with the differences. Some mistakenly call them needlefish, but you can easily tell these two apart: the ballyhoo has a shorter upper jaw and the tip of its lower jaw is orange-red. You can occasionally find them in our part of the Gulf in the summertime but they are not extremely abundant this far north (Tampa Bay). You can buy them frozen in most tackle stores and they are excellent bait for trolling. You can find them pre-rigged in most stores that carry them. There are several ways to rig them for trolling, but probably the easiest is a plastic attachment that you can buy called a "hoo nose". There may be other brands available so call or write if you have a better one (and send me a sample of it, please.) They are an excellent bait for all species of fish that we troll for in this area, and if handled and rigged properly can be trolled faster than a live bait. This trait allows you to cover a larger area and maximize your fishing time.

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