Fishing bait types for Freshwater and Saltwater
Fishing bait will depend on the type of fishing you’ll be doing and the season. Most can be used on either float or on the bottom. So if your fishing on the beach or of your Tinnie, picking the right bait can make for a better days fishing!
Fresh/Live Freshwater Fishing Bait
Scrubworms, Earthworms and Mudeyes
Scrubworms are a very popular fishing bait. Murray Cod, Carp, Silver Perch, Bream, Yellow Belly, Brown and Rainbow Trout love scrubbies. They are approx 1.3 to 1.7 grams each and 6cm to 8cm long still big enough to put on a small hook and catch Redfin, Carp, Yellows and Trout on them by hooking 4 smaller scrub worms you have 8 wiggling ends to attract fish.
Earth Worms are made up of a mixture of the following 4 species of earthworms, Brown Worms, Flat tail Worms, Crazy Worms and Clear Worms. Earthworms are found more abundant in the wetter cooler months of the year and some are very deep burrowers in the summer to escape the heat and long dry periods and are for inoculation of pastures and gardens and are all different sizes.
Mudeyes (Couta dragon fly larva) is the best way to catch Trout ideally suspended under a running clear bubble and a pre-waxed light line using a small Mudeye hook. Have your rod parallel to the water (not up in the air) and your spool OPEN (not closed) and pre-wax your line all the way to the bubble (but not the leader) that way the trout will not drop the Mudeye or bite it in half as you will have minimised the drag, after the trout takes a couple of metres of line then sink the hook.
Yabbies and Maggots
Yabbies make excellent fishing bait for freshwater species such as Yellowbelly, Bass, Trout, and Murray Cod. They also make great bait for saltwater species like bream, flathead, and Snapper with more and more saltwater fishermen using them. Although yabbies are a freshwater crayfish they survive for hours in saltwater so make great live bait.
Maggots can be used singly or in pairs or bunched. To use a maggot singularly, hook it through the thick end. If you find you are missing bites you can try hooking it though the pointed end or through the middle ‘handlebar’ style. To use double maggot you can hook both at the thick end or hook one thick end and the other the pointed end. If the fish are feeding on the top of the water you can get your maggots to float: place some maggots in a bait tub with a little water and replace the lid (make sure there are holes in the lid). Being in water the maggots will take in more oxygen and start to float. Maggots are also great to add to your ground bait.
Minnows and Shrimps/Prawns
Minnows are the most challenging types of fishing bait but will catch you larger fish like Trout, Redfin. Most presentations are focused on providing a lively minnow near their natural location in the water you are fishing, which should be where the predators you’re after are feeding. This will often be near the bottom, where cover like rocks, boulders, and vegetation are present. However, positioning this bait according to structure i.e. changes in-depth and the outlay of the water body, such as a drop-off, point, or hump is also a factor.
Baitfish will school and navigate according to the structure of a water body, so offering your minnow where Baitfish school like the edge of a point will often link you up with predators. All minnows should be stored in water at all times either in a Minnow Bucket.
Shrimps/Prawns are highly sought after as live bait for use in both the freshwater and marine fishing environments. Most baits work by sight and smell and hence, their attractive range is limited. Live shrimps emit distress sounds when correctly placed on a hook. These sounds can be detected by fish which are out of sight and the fish can hone in on this vibration.
Some fishermen report that placing two or more live shrimp on the same hook results in the shrimps fighting and consequently, producing more distress sounds. The result of this is an increased attractiveness of the live bait.
Other Fishing Bait
Corn kernels (from a can), bread and bread crusts, and various mixtures of raw dough with added ingredients to provide smell and flavour, can all be used to catch fish such as carp, roach, and tench.
Fresh/Live Saltwater Fishing Bait
Pilchards also are known as the Blue Pilchard, Pilly, Sardine, Bluebait Western Australian Pilchard, and Mulies.
There is no more versatile bait than the Australian pilchard it will entice any number of fish to bite. It is however the number one bait for Tailor, Australian Salmon, and Snapper.
Pippies are probably the easiest bait to catch and use on the beach and are commonly used to catch whiting, bream, tarwhine, dart, and the odd flattie. Open them up just by knocking two together firmly or cracking it against something hard.
You bait them up by simply threading your hook through the hard “tongue” and you are ready!
Yabbies and Sandworms
Yabbies can be found in most waterways, especially those lined with a mud substrate bottom. Whiting, Silver Trevally and other fishes search out bass yabbies on the tidal flats in which they inhabit.
For an angler in search of whiting, nothing beats hitting the tidal flats armed with a bait pump and sieve to collect a few before heading out. When searching for bass yabby habitat, you need to locate mudflats which are affected by tidal influence. On the top of the tide, these areas should be underwater while on the low, totally exposed. Commonly used for catching Bream, Flathead, Mullet, Whiting.
Sandworms are the number one bait used on our beaches and are best used live or fresh. Whiting, Dart, Australian Salmon, Flathead, and even big Jewfish find them irresistible to pass up as a quick and easy meal and are also known to be excellent bait for striped bass and flounder. These worms are in high demand during saltwater fishing season, with some bait shops estimating they account for around 30% of total bait sold during the summer months.
Other Fishing Bait
Several other baits can be used in saltwater. Dough mixtures and small pieces of raw chicken fillet can be used to catch mullet, garfish, trevally and other fish in estuaries and marine waters.
Fresh/Live Fishing Bait – Quick A to Z Guide
Abalone gut: Commonly used land-based as a cut bait to target a large variety of ocean rock-dwelling species.
Artificial bait: – Commonly found in jars or packets artificial bait can be used to moderate effect on a wide variety of both salt and freshwater species.
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.
Bread/Doe: Commonly used as a land-based bait to target fish with odd feeding habits such as mullet and luderick.
Crabs: Commonly used both land-based and offshore as a whole or cut bait to target a large variety of ocean rock-dwelling species.
Crickets: This isn’t a very common type of bait, but bass fish love crickets, as do a few species of Crappie and Panfish.
Cunjevoi: Commonly used land-based as a cut bait to target rugged, rock fishing species such as drummer and groper.
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 blackfish and the luderick, they are string weed and cabbageweed. String weed is generally used in calm, estuary situations whilst cabbage is used out on rough, ocean rock ledges.
Jets or Maggots: Commonly used as a land-based bait to target smaller, finicky species such as garfish.
Mudeye: Commonly used from both shore and boat as a whole, live bait by anglers targeting brown and rainbow trout.
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.
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.
Oxheart: Commonly used land-based as a cut bait designed to target small school whiting.
Pilchards: Commonly used both offshore and land-based as a whole or cut bait to target most carnivorous fish species around Australia.
Pipi: 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.
Prawns: Commonly used land-based as whole, live, peeled or cut baits to target an enormous variety of popular Australian fish species.
Spleen: Commonly used in estuary systems as cut bait for crab traps.
Squid: Commonly used both offshore and land-based as a whole and cut bait to target many of Australia’s popular fish species.
Tuna Heads: Commonly used offshore as a whole bait for crayfish and crab traps. Also, make great large shark baits!
Whitebait/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.
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.
Fishing with Artificial Bait
Some people like artificial bait or lures because they tend to be less messy. and there are many different kinds of effective imitation bait you can choose. Lures also lessen the chances that the fish will get “gut hooked” – this is when they swallow the hook deeply or entirely. Lures tend to be more pricey than live bait, and are more likely to get caught in marine debris. But for some kinds of fish, they’re your best bet.
Jigs are a resourceful way to draw the attention of many kinds of fish. Almost any game fish out there will react to a jig, and jigs are also a particularly low-priced kind of lure.
These lures have weighted heads, adorned with hair, feathers, plastic grubs, or other things that will catch a fish’s eye. One of the main challenges of jigs is that you have to keep them moving to catch the fish – if you let them sit there, they’ll sink.
For a much easier lure experience, you’ll want to try spinners. These lures are ideal for beginner fishers because they’re super easy to use. Spinners typically use a metal shaft with a blade that spins around to look appealing to fish.
The hook is covered or uncovered depending on the type of spinner you get. To get the blades to spin, all you need to do is pull this kind of lure through the water.
Fish will notice the vibrations and sound it makes, so this is an excellent choice if you’re fishing in dirty or murky water where visual lures are less effective.
This common type of lure is made of curved metal, hence the name. The very first “spoon” lures were just spoons with the handles removed. Now, spoon lures are made in all types of sizes and colours, depending on what the fishing conditions are. Spoons wobble from side to side when they move through the water, so to fish, they look like injured prey.
One more type of lure that you’ll use a lot is synthetic versions of live bait. If you go bass fishing, you’ll more than likely be using synthetic bait. These lures are made using moulded plastic with metallic flakes, dye, or even scents added to make them more attractive to fish. Some of these baits look like real creatures, such as plastic worms, while others don’t mimic any live bait at all.
Plugs are made to look like frogs, baitfish, and other larger prey. This type of artificial bait is made out of hollow wood or plastic, with a couple of hooks attached. Some plugs are designed for diving, while others are made to float so that you can use them at just about any depth of water. Different types of plugs will gurgle, rattle, or wobble to best mimic prey.
If you go flyfishing, then you’ll get familiar with this kind of bait. These lightweight artificial lures mimic insects and are made to float on top of the water. Although flyfishing can be challenging, once you get the hang of it, you’ll love this highly interactive kind of fishing.