LIVE BAIT 101

Fishing with live baits is probably the most efficient way to catch fish anywhere around the world. If you want to catch big fish consistently, then live bait is the best choice. There’s an old fishing saying that ‘fresh is the best and live is better’. If you don’t agree or maybe you’re a lure fisherman and don’t even touch the bait, then it might be time to rethink your stand.

Now it doesn’t mean that you won’t catch big fish if you don’t use live bait. What we’re saying is that using live bait correctly will help you catch better fish more often. So if you’re willing to add live baits to your arsenal, then here are a couple of things you need to know.

SLIMY MACKEREL & YELLOWTAIL

A squirming slimy mackerel or a wiggling yellowtail are very enticing treats for any large predator. These live baits are quite deadly for marlins, tunas, kingfish and even flatheads. Just remember that when you’re fishing inshore, you must create a burley stream to get the yellowtail and slimy mackerel under the boat.

But if you’re fishing offshore, you can use your sounder to locate bait balls, then drop an extended set of several hooks with flashers (otherwise called a Sabiki rig) through the middle. If you want to catch slimy mackerel and yellowtail, you can find them in big schools around wrecks, reefs and man-made structures.

SQUID & CUTTLEFISH

Squid and cuttlefish are almost considered the ultimate live baits. Widely known as kingfish candy, squid and cuttlefish are quite deadly for any fish you want to chase. The only problem is, it’s a bit tricky to catch. If you want to catch one, you can find them inking their way around weed beds with sand patches throughout. Take note that ideal squidding conditions consist of a nice high tide and clear water.

SALTWATER NIPPERS

A saltwater nipper on fluorocarbon leader is as close as you can get to a guaranteed catch. Saltwater nippers are great for bream, flatties and whiting or any fish in an estuary. You can find them clawing under the surface of tidal sand flats. The best time to get them is to hit the flats at low tide. Look for small holes in the sand and work the areas near the waterline.

BEACH WORMS

As the name suggests, beach worms are the perfect bait for beach fishing. These beach worms will catch almost anything that strays in the surf zone of coastal beaches. It takes a lot of practice to catch them, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you will undoubtedly get more bites. You can find beach worms in the sand of coastal surf beaches.

LONG-FINNED PIKE

Long-finned pikes are scaly and scary looking. They also smell, but they’re great for catching almost any large predator. You can find them in small schools and can be caught using small soft plastics to hardbodies. Flies work too, and you can look for them in shallow weed beds.

HOW TO CATCH THEM

When searching for live baits, be careful not to spook them. Come in slowly and look for signs of disturbance on the surface or a decent show on the sounder. Once you’ve found a school of bait, calmly prepare your cast net and then throw. You can use double snell rigs with penetrator-style hooks from the Mustad range.

Live bait fishing may not be for every fisho, but it pays to give it a try if it will give you better results. If you’re still a beginner fisho, use this information to use live baits correctly. The results might just surprise you. Good luck with live bait fishing mate!


 

Do you have any tips for finding or catching live bait? Share your thoughts below.

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Jackson Williams
jacksonw@dinga.com.au

Jackson Williams has been fishing around Australia for 20 years and loves his home region of far north Queensland.