Fishing with bait is a technique that has been around since the dawn of time and is still to this day one of the most common and productive forms of fishing available. Bait fishing generally allows anglers the luxury of relaxing and simply enjoying their surroundings whilst waiting for the fish to come to them and is not only an enjoyable method of fishing but also very productive provided a few key rules are followed.
Rule number 1 – Get the right bait!
Selecting the right bait to target your intended species with requires some knowledge from the angler with regard to what species of fish is going to be targeted and what it is most likely to be feeding upon at that time. For example it is no use casting a whole pilchard into a school of big, hungry luderick as luderick are a weed eating species that would generally be more frightened by the pilchard than enticed into eating it. Some string or cabbage weed nicely presented beneath a correctly weighted stem float would be a much more productive option! There are many different species of fish in our oceans which feed upon an enormous variety of marine organisms from crab crunching groper to weed sucking luderick. Learning as much about a species and its feeding habits is not only an educational and enjoyable pass time but it also enables anglers to become better adapted for targeting a particular species.
All rigs found on the Fish On site come complete with their own recommended bait matches to take the guess work out!
Rule number 2 – Fresh is best and live is better!
Fishing with top quality fresh and live baits will improve results remarkably, not only will the quality of fish caught improve but also the numbers! Big, old, smart fish are less likely to fooled by these irresistible morsels and offer anglers the opportunity to tangle with some real giants. Gathering these baits can also be great fun and provide not only an enjoyable but also educational activity for all.
Frozen bait which is often found packeted in tackle store freezers is also a great alternative provided it is in top quality condition. Most reputable tackle stores pride themselves on having a good supply of quality frozen baits to cater for an enormous variety of fishing styles and species. These frozen bait packages are designed for convenience and have become the more popular bait choice for most over the years. Try to stay away from discoloured, freezer bitten bait packages that look as though they have been there for months as these nasty packages will give you no joy at all! Even if the bait does miraculously manage to remain attached to your hook after hitting the water a fish is more likely to die from food poisoning or laughter than anything else. Average to poor quality baits will occasionally catch fish but if you want to catch better quality fish and more of them try using the best quality bait you can get your hands on!
Rule number 3 – Presentation is the key!
Presenting a bait as naturally as possible increases the chances of it being eaten considerably! There are a few things to take into account before this can be achieved.
1 – The bait is fitted with the correct style and size of hook, this plays a key roll in bait presentation. If the hook size used is too large a fish will generally see or feel the hook and reject the offering. A hook size that is too small often results in a mist hook up as the bait is pulled from the mouth of the fish upon striking. A hook size and style that is small enough to slightly conceal yet large enough to penetrate is ideal.
2 – The leader, main line and rig are light enough to allow the bait to move naturally, this also plays a major role in presenting a bait as naturally as possible. A leader, main line and rig as light as possible should generally be selected for most styles of fishing including bait fishing. Big, old, smart fish will generally not be fooled by heavy leaders and large sinkers and swivels!
3 – The bait is placed into the required location correctly, this is an aspect of bait fishing that most anglers unfortunately fail to take into consideration yet is also a crucial component to a baits presentation. It really is no use taking the time to prepare a nice looking bait and then simply casting it into the water and hoping it still looks the same there as it did in your hand. Take the time and experiment with different bait presentation styles until you find one that is most effective for you. Casting a bait through the air or dropping one down through the water column can also take its toll on a baits presentation, this needs to be taken into careful consideration to ensure a bait arrives at its desired destination fully intact and looking great. Casting lightly or slowing the baits decent through the water column are both fantastic methods of preventing bait damage and will greatly increase the chances of a bait looking as natural as possible on its arrival at the sea or river bed.
4 – Water currents and their speed should also be taken into careful consideration when trying to present bait’s as naturally as possible. More often than not the shape of a bait will determine its action in the water when current passes over it. Trimming the fins off large or whole, dead fish baits and slicing cut baits into triangle shaped pieces will generally prevent baits from spinning in current and allow them to appear far more natural to approaching fish. Water currents can also be a good thing and allow cleverly crafted dead baits to appear as if they are still alive! Removing the back bone and tail section of a whole, dead bait fish such as a small mackerel or mullet leaving the head and two fleshy fillets to waft enticingly in the current is a technique called butterflying and is a very popular method of presenting larger baits in current for species such as mulloway and big, pink snapper!
Rule number 4 – Let the fish eat it!
Now you have a fresh, nicely presented bait and are confident it is in the right location and looking great the only thing left to do is let a fish find it and more importantly eat it! Many anglers make the mistake of winding in their nice, fresh baits only to find they are exactly the same as when they were sent out. Try to be patient and allow the fish to become comfortable with your offering. If you know the fish are there just wait for them to bite! Experimenting with different sizes and styles of baits is also a good method of determining exactly what the fish are in the mood for on a particular day.
When you do finally have a fish trying to eat your bait, let them eat it. Most novice anglers and some veterans too more often than not strike too early and simply pull the baited hook from the jaws of the fish. Try to allow the fish to feel as little resistance from you and your fishing outfit as possible during the initial stages of the fish taking a bait. Then once you are confident the fish has the bait down well and is moving off you should strike and set the hook.
Different styles of hooks such as the circle or wide gap are ideal for allowing fish to swallow baits down before striking but also ensure a healthy corner of the jaw styled hook up enabling anglers to release their fish upon capture if they wish.
Some different styes of bait and their common uses –
1 – Pilchards – Commonly used both offshore and land based as a whole or cut bait to target most carnivorous fish species around Australia.
2 – Prawns – Commonly used land based as whole, live, peeled or cut baits to target an enormous variety of popular Australian fish species.
3 – Worms – Commonly found in two main varieties the sand or beach worm and the blood worm are used land based as a whole, live or cut bait to target quality bread and butter estuarine and beach species such as bream, whiting and flathead.
4 – Squid – Commonly used both offshore and land based as a whole and cut bait to target many of Australia’s popular fish species.
5 – Octopus – Commonly used offshore especially around central Western Australia as a skinned and cut bait to target a large variety of popular demersal fish species.
6 – Jets or Maggots – Commonly used as a land based bait to target smaller, finicky species such as garfish.
7 – Mullet – Commonly used both offshore and land based mullet is a popular bait when cut into pieces for a wide variety of popular Australian fish species.
8 – Green weed – There are commonly two separate varieties of green weed typically used land based to target vegetarian species such as the black drummer or rock black fish and the luderick, they are string weed and cabbage
weed. String weed is generally used in calm, estuary situations whilst cabbage is used out on rough, ocean rock ledges.
9 – Cunjevoi – Commonly used land based as a cut bait to target rugged, rock fishing species such as drummer and groper.
10 – Ox heart – Commonly used land based as a cut bait designed to target small school whiting.
11 – White bait/blue sardines – Commonly used both offshore and land based as a whole bait designed to target small to medium sized carnivore species such as snook, tailor, silver trevally and herring.
12 – Tuna heads – Commonly used offshore as a whole bait for crayfish and crab traps. Also make great large shark baits!
13 – Boney herring – Commonly used land based as a whole, live or cut bait throughout central W.A to target larger estuary species such as mulloway and large bream.
14 – Spleen – Commonly used in estuary systems as a cut bait for crab traps.
15 – Abalone gut – Commonly used land based as a cut bait to target a large variety of ocean rock dwelling species.
16 – Crabs – Commonly used both land based and offshore as a whole or cut bait to target a large variety of ocean rock dwelling species.
17 – Cockles – Commonly used land based as a whole or cut bait to target a large variety of beach and rock species such as bream and whiting.
18 – Bread/doe – Commonly used as a land based bait to target fish with odd feeding habits such as mullet and luderick.
19 – Mud eye – Commonly used from both shore and boat as a whole, live bait by anglers targeting brown and rainbow trout.
20 – Artificial bait – Commonly found in jars or packets artificial bait can be used to moderate effect on a wide variety of both salt and fresh water species.