There is no need to buy bait for freshwater fishing as freshwater fish will eat almost anything, some of the most common being the ordinary garden worm, shrimps, lobbies (also known as yabbies), grubs and grasshoppers. From your fridge you can use steak, saveloy’s, cheese and even a piece of banana can work. Try anything you think might work and you might be surprised.
Worms (the garden variety) can be easy to find. You have your common garden variety but if you are on the riverbank or the edge a dam, worms can usually be found in amongst the roots of grass or weeds growing right at the waters edge. (You will need a steady water level in the dam or river to get worms this way or the earth will be too dry for worms.) You can usually dig the plant or grass out and get the worms tangled in the roots.
Yabbies are caught using the opera house trap baited with any old piece of meat you happen to have. Drop the trap in a water hole on the side of the road, up gully’s or in small dams and there is usually a lobby or two to be caught. You don’t tend to catch many lobbies where there are a lot of fish, like large dams and rivers, it is best to stick to the small water holes, though there are exceptions. (Did you know that if you freeze lobbies, when thawed out many of them will come back to life) Check your local fishing regulations as to the use of opera house pots as the rules vary from state to state. In some states you will need a fishing licence and in New South Wales the traps are banned east of the Newell Highway, in Western Australia they are totally banned except for in Lake Argyle.
Bardie Grubs are caught by exposing their holes with a shovel by scrapping away the top 1/2″ of soil, usually under the overhanging branches of a gum tree along the river bank and then extracting them by using a “bardi wire” to bring them up sometimes from as deep as a metre underground. Bardi’s are a favourite bait for Murray Cod. A tip for keeping your bardi grubs alive and fresh is to wrap 2 or 3 of them at a time in news paper and store them in the refrigerator, they will stay alive and fresh for up to 2 weeks this way and you will always have fresh bait ready for the next fishing trip.
You can make your own Bardi wire with the outer casing of a length of push bike brake cable, some mig wire and some fishing line. Catching your own grubs is half the fun of the fishing trip.
Shrimps, everyone knows that freshwater shrimp are one of the best freshwater baits going. Here’s a little secret when baiting your hook with shrimp, it’s called the kissing shrimp, but you don’t kiss them, what you do is feed the shrimp tail first onto the hook, then feed a second shrimp on head first.
The heads touch and there you have it, the “kissing shrimp”. We have proven it over and over that the hook with the kissing shrimps will catch fish long before a hook with a single shrimp on it will. This is a mystery to us but it works, give it a try. Shrimp are easily caught using a bait trap baited with just about any sort of meat, some people even use a cake of sunlight soap, but did you know that if you don’t have any meat all you need to do is shove a hand full of gum leaves into your trap, I don’t know if the shrimp eats the leaves or just hides amongst them but you are sure to get some shrimp. Keep your shrimp alive in a bucket of water kept in the shade and change the water often. Shrimp can be a bit hard to find during the colder months but are plentiful during the warmer months. Make sure you tag all your traps with your name, cause it’s the law.
Vegetables are the go to catch redclaw. About all we use for these blokes is par cooked potatoes. They are easy to carry and will last a long time until you want to use them, which is great when you are travelling. To part cook them just cut them in half and put them in a billy of boiling water for a short time until the outside is just starting to soften. Don’t over cook them as they will fall apart in the trap.
Spuds are good bait and will last for days, just top up your bait bag as the redclaw start eating them away. Redclaw will eat anything so you can always find something for bait. Pumpkin, corn, capsicum, rockmelon, orange, cheese, dog biscuits and even broccoli to name a few, anything is worth a go because these blokes are not fussy.