Well, sounds like your fishing from shore....
Recently, some of the guys have been geting those 16 foot long Shakespeer crappy poles.
Tie on about 10 or 12 feet of 20# test line and a hook to match the size of the bait your using.
You don't want too big a hook or it will kill the action of the live bait.
Some guys hook the live bait through the back. I like to hook it through the lips.
Just gently set the live bait near the grass or weeds or what ever cover there is and watch it struggle.
You don't want it to get into the cover, you want it struggling near the edge of the cover.
Believe me, live bait fishing isn't as easy as many people want to believe. We're not just putting it out in the water under a bobber and forgetting about it. We are constantly keeping the live bait at the edge of the cover.
And it wants to eacape into the thickest cover it can hide in. Any un attention and you've snagged the thickest part of the cover.... good by hook. The larger fish are looking for food... the live bait they eat stays close to the cover to keep from being eaten... Just fish where the fish are looking for dinner.
Bass will home in on a struggling baitfish. And you get a 2 or 3 pounder on the end of a limber 16 foot pole.. it is fun.
If your into rod and reel fishing... again, work your lures close to shore where the fish are.