I checked my yo yo's this mornin and had about a 10 pound channel on one and a little bluegill on another one.I've fished in doctor's lake my whole life and never caught a channel that big.2 other yo yo's were damaged.One had the 60# nylon line snapped and the other one was torn from the 2 inch wide branch.:cursing:
hmmm you may have gotten a snapping turtle come and attacked fish that were on it as well which would account for broken yo yos and also snapped lines... ummm the limb broken off doesn't mean much unless it you know it was a tree thats alive and that the limb was alive. one thing you could do and i know this is sometimes frowned upon because of the seeming injury to the tree but nail it to the main trunk of the tree... use a large U nail or common nail and it should stay well... could also screw it in w/ a washer to hold it better and also means its removeable more easily.
as for bait... i'd go with chicken livers or cut bait, unless you like getting the bicatch such as sunnies and ba$$.
I usually use live shiners. you will get some white perch but the cats will eat them too. I have caught two 20 lb+ buffalo on yo-yos and they were on thin guage white perch hooks. If you use live bait you might want to put a mid size split shot about 4-6 inches above the hook. keeps them from getting tangled up in the tree.
Make sure the limbs are good and limber and you tie good knots. I started about a year ago tying a big loop in the hanging line so that I could loop it over the limb, put the yoyo thru the hole and cinch it up on the limb. easy to get off when you are done.