Bait fishing is our preferred way to fish although we do occasionally use the odd lure mainly for the likes of tailor or mackeral, but even for these fish we will usually buy a block of WA pilchards. Here are some of our preferred baits for estuary fishing and how and where to get them.
Yabbies, the saltwater variety (also known as nippers down south) are at the top of the list. These little critters have got to be the best all round bait for estuary and beach fishing going.
They are found on the sand flats on low tide and are sucked out of their holes using a yabbie pump, just find a sandy bottom and look for an area of small holes about one centimeter in size and you have found a yabbie bank. Yabbies are great bait for whiting and bream, just about any fish will take a yabbie. Keep your yabbies fresh by regularly changing their water and store them in the shade and they will last all day.
Yabbies can be kept alive for a couple of days by wrapping them in newspaper and storing them in your refrigerator, or keep them in a tank of salt water and use an aquarium air pump to keep the water aerated. You will still need to change the water regularly and remove any dead yabbies as dead ones will foul the water.
Prawns are great bream bait and anything will eat prawns. Prawns are usually about in the warmer months and easily caught using a cast net along the muddy mangrove banks of the rivers and creeks. The muddy banks are usually a good spot for the smaller prawn which is ideal for bait while the deep holes in the rivers often produce the larger prawn great for eating. The best time for casting for prawn we find is the last of the run out tide and the first of the run in, they congregate in the gutters and deeper holes on the low tide and move up into the mangroves on the high tide. Check your local fishing regulations as cast nets are not legal in all states.
Fish baits are good bait for the larger species of fish like flathead, grunter, tailor, queenfish and the list goes on.
These fish will all take a fish bait be it live or a piece of flesh, live is a good way to go just insert a single hook halfway along the bait fish above it’s spine so as not to kill it. A favourite for us is herring (sprat as we call them) but mullet work well too. Fish bait is often caught in the cast net while prawning .
A good place to find sprat is around jetty pylons or snags and mullet are easily caught on the shallow banks on a making tide.
Beach Worms are caught along any of the beaches around Bundaberg and are great bait for whiting that lurk in the gutters along the beaches. The worms are caught on the beach at low tide along the water line. There is a bit of an art to catching beach worms and not everyone has the knack of it. You lure the worms out of the sand with a stinker( fish frames tied to rope) which is waved across the sand to bring them to the surface, the worm sticks it’s head up out of the sand and this is where the fun starts.
You keep the worm interested by waving a small piece of bait under it’s nose while your sneak your other hand behind it and pinch it with 2 fingers, when you feel it between your fingers you squeese tightly and slowly raise your arm gently pulling the worm out. It is not easy but once you have caught your first worm you won’t look back, you will probably spend more time worming then fishing as it is a ton of fun.
Keep your worms in a bucket of water or in dry sand. Good luck!