Live oama are indisputably the best inshore bait. But there’s definitely a process to be able to troll live oama off our watercraft.
Late season oama are spooky and picky about what they eat. They often shun the baits that have worked early in the season. One of our fishing hui, Thad, goes out and gathers the natural food they feed on. We try to use those baits at the time when the oama feel like eating. Then I rush the live oama home before they “make” (die) in the aerated bait bucket. There’s a low mortality rate over the next few days but if one oama dies in the tub due to the catching process, it could kill the rest of its inhabitants. The oama near the end of the above video had some loose scales and couldn’t swim completely upright. He looked worse the next day so I had to remove him before he died. A friend used him “fresh dead” in a boat fishing tournament.
I feed the oama frozen Mysis shrimp from the pet store. The small sized shrimps are easily consumed. There’s a very fine line between feeding the oama enough so they survive, and over feeding to the point the tub fouls and they all get sick (and “make”). Over the course of many months, the oama will slowly malnourish and eventually die. If I fed them more so that they didn’t lose any weight, I’d have a much higher food bill and would have to clean their tub more often. Instead I try to use them within a few weeks.
When the weather conditions allow, we make plans to troll the live oama. They need to be transported in freshly mixed salt water (I got tired of going to the beach to get sea water) that’s aerated enough to support them on their journey to the fishing spot.
Trolled live oama usually get slammed right away if the fish are around. That’s the easiest part of the whole process but also the part that makes everything else totally worth it.