Fishing Basics - Bait Collection
But seriously folkes.....
Freshly caught and collected baits (usually from the area you are fishing) are the best you can use. There are always exceptions but usually fresh is best.
The simplest way without doubt is to buy your bait from a store, but it is cheaper and usually a lot more fun collecting bait yourself.
Implements required to catch your own bait (check your local fisheries regulations to make sure it is legal to use these in your area) can be bait nets, cast nets, scoop nets, fish traps, strong garden forks, yabby pumps, your feet and hands.
These are simple walk around nets where you wade out into a likely looking area in a semi circle pattern and drag the net back into shore. It is effective for bait fish such as hardiheads, herring, small squid and mullet, as well as the odd good quality bream whiting or flathead thrown in as an added bonus.
Can be used by wading over flats and every so often casting the net into the water, but more often from a jetty or boat over grounds where baitfish or prawns gather. A very effective method for catching live baits such as poddy mullet, herring and prawns amongst others.
Squid, prawns and baitfish can be targeted here, often at night in a brightly lit area. Squid and baitfish will come into the lit area on the surface where with practice and lightning fast reflexes they can be scooped from the surface.
Mostly of plastic construction fish traps are baited with bread or sometimes fish flesh lowered into a likely looking area where hungry bait species will swim into it and get caught.
Mud and mangrove areas usually hold a good population of worm species, these can be dug by turning over and sifting through the mud with your fingers to find these much sort after baits.
As the name implies this implement is used for extracting yabbies from their holes. In areas near creeks, rivers and bars where sand and mud merge you will find 1000's of little holes on shallow banks. These are the yabbies homes.
Feet and Hands
Well these are cheap and almost everyone has some sitting idly around the house, so lets put them to good use.
On the beach pippis can be dug from the sand with your fingers or feet using hip shaking motion to extract them in shallow water. Sand worm can be caught with the aid of a small handbait and something smelly (fish frames, etc) to get them interested. Small soldier crabs can be chased down and captured before they are able to dig into the sand.
On sand and mud flats, rocks can be overturned where small prawns, shrimp and crabs may be taking refuge (replace the rock as it was when you are finished looking), and lettuce and green weed collected for the likes of luderick and blackfish.
There are many others and as you investigate areas you will see other creatures which may prove appetising to your targeted species.
As well as being one of the best ways to improve your catches, collecting bait can be fun especially if you have kids you can get involved.
Children love messy things, and they also love being involved in grown up activities. Well bait collection brings both of these loves together and can make for a great family (ok mum may whince and groan a little) day out.
Rumaging in the mud to grab slithering worms or scampering yabbies (watch the nippers) is what being a kid is all about. Holding the bucket for mum or dad as they extricate a flapping poddy mullet from the cast net brings looks of awe and excitement.
Doing the pippi shuffle on the beach makes great holiday video and memorable photos that will take you back to that spot each time you see them.
Not only that but you end up with the best bait you could possibly hope for, so the chance of a great fishing session to follow is just a huge bonus.
As with your fishing trips, it is good practice to make notes of conditions, what was available where, how you caught it, visible signs that show a bait was there etc etc. This particularly applies where baitfish are concerned because small fish often mimmick big ones in their habits and congregations of small fish usually attract the attention of larger species when the dinner time bell rings.