Cardinal fish are a sort of bait fish which lives in groups near large corals in reefs and lagoons. They rarely leave the corals they live around. Unlike other bait fish, cardinal fish cannot be caught by using lights at night. Fishermen started using cardinal fish as bait when they started diving to catch bait fish. Currently cardinal fish is one of the most important type of bait fish for fishermen who dive to catch bait. But even earlier cardinal fish was an important type of bait fish for fishermen. But the way and amount they caught it was different.
Fishermen started diving with gear to catch cardinal bait fish in early 2000s. But even early 2000s bait fish was caught by snorkeling and other means.
When it is difficult to catch baits like silver sprat and anchovies which was the most common baits, fishermen will go near reefs to look for other types of bait like cardinal fish. Once near the reef, fishermen will wear snorkeling gear and go near reefs to look for bait fish. They will circle around corals looking for cardinal fish. Once they spot the fish, the vessel will come closer to the area, allow other fishermen to throw nets specialized for catching the bait.
Earlier fishermen used 30-35 feet nets to catch the cardinal bait fish. Fishermen use a certain technique to catch the cardinal bait using the nets. At first they spread net on top of the coral where the fish are located at. This is a difficult process and often takes several tries. Once the net is set they will lure the cardinal bait from under the net to on top of it. Once there is enough bait on top of the net, fishermen who are free diving and the ones on the vessel work together to hoist the net onto the vessel. This is a very time consuming and difficult process.
There are other ways in which fishermen catch baitfish from near corals. They sometimes leave the nets cast onto the corals for one day and return the next day to hoist it back up.