The use of cast nets in Australia is governed by a strict set of regulations outlining where and when they can be used as well as regulations outlining the make up of the cast net itself. It is important to make your customer aware of local regulations and good reference points for information include local guides and government websites that you can access at your store kiosk.
Cast or throw nets are a very efficient bait-gathering device.
Cast nets are available in a number of materials with the most popular being constructed of either a nylon string or thread, or monofilament similar to fishing line. Both materials have benefits and drawbacks.
Nylon nets are a good deal stronger than it’s ‘mono’ counterpart, sinks slower when weighted similar to an equivalent mono (handy when casting for bait over snaggy territory), are more resistant to tearing and more resistant to UV light, therefore more likely to have a longer life span.
Monofilament nets are lighter to use, an advantage when bait proves scarce and one has to cast for extended periods, because nylon nets absorb more water making them heavier and the person using them wetter. Mono nets are also less visible to the fish being pursued, sink quickly to reduce the chance of baitfish escaping from under the net, and are generally a lot cleaner to use – the single thread less likely to retain mud and flotsam. Mono nets are the most popular in Australia.
Nets with a pocket in the top section are preferred when chasing prawns because when retrieving the net the prawns will kick to the top. This pocket helps to prevent prawns from escaping and also allows prawns to be emptied quickly from the top pocket, rather than having to work your way around the bottom pocket removing individual prawns. Being able to get the prawns out of the net quicker allows the net to be back in the water faster which is ideal when you locate a patch of prawns.
Cast nets come in two mesh sizes ¾ inch, (20 mm) and 1 inch, (25 mm). The size selected depends on the species of fish or bait being targeted.
There are a wide range of bait traps available and again it is important to ensure that customers refer to their local regulations. Regulations govern the type of traps that can be used and how they must be marked, as well as when, where, who and how many traps can be used.
- Ideal for catching freshwater shrimp and yabbies.
- Popular baits include fish frames, meaty bones and tinned pet food. As yabbies are mostly vegetarian other popular baits include rockmelon, broccoli, slightly boiled potatoes and even sunlight soap.
- Set these traps around structure including weed beds and submerged timber that provides shelter where shrimp and yabbies can live. They are effective in the shallow water at night, with deeper water and structure preferred during sunlight hours.Check local regulations before using any form of bait or crab traps
Bait Pumps (Yabby Pumps)
Bait or yabby pumps are extremely effective at sucking small crustaceans, yabbies and worms from beneath the surfaces of sand and mud bars that are usually covered by water at high tide. They operate on a basic vacuum principle:
- The pump is placed over a yabby hole and pushed (with some force) down into the sand/mud, to about half the length of the pump, while the handle is drawn back.
- The pump is then withdrawn from the hole and the contents expelled by pushing the pump handle down to its original position.
- The pump is then pushed down the same hole to about ¾ the length of the pump as the handle is drawn back, then removed and the contents expelled.
- Finally repeat the process with the pump being pushed down the length of the shaft. By pushing the pump down to different lengths while pulling back the handle you are sucking all the bait from different levels around the hole. Move at least a metre away and start a new hole.
- Look for an area with many yabby holes and you will often get more yabbies close to the waters edge. Ideal times to pump yabbies and other bait are from 1/3 tide down to low tide and back up to 1/3 tide, as you have access to the sand flats where the bait is found.
- If you do miss the tide and are forced to pump bait in the water a sieve is a great accessory. Place an inflated 16” bike tube around the sieve and tie it to you so that it follows you along allowing you to expel the contents of the pump into the sieve. The sand and mud will wash through the sieve with the water movement leaving behind the yabbies and other bait you are targeting.
Bait pumps are available in a range of sizes with the king size being the most popular as it allows you to pump bait from deeper down, often producing better results. They are built for the tough saltwater environment with strong stainless steel handles and are made of stainless steel and brass.
Bait jigs are an extremely effective tool when used around jetty and wharf pylons where schools of baitfish like herring and yellowtail are likely to shelter and feed. They are used by simply attaching a sinker to one end of the line to pull the jig down into the water and attaching the other end to your mainline. Simply jig the rod tip and the flashy material and jigging motion creates the illusion of small baitfish or jelly prawns and entices fish to bite.
They are equally effective when used on blue water bait e.g., schools of yellowtail, pilchards and mackerel. When jigged close to reef and structure, bait jigs often fool many other species including many of the aggressive Lutjanus family, including Red Emperor, Mangrove Jack, Finger Mark, Moses Perch, along with small wrasses and many other species.
Small sizes are available specifically designed for jigging bait. Larger versions are also available with larger, stronger hooks and heavier breaking strain line, designed for targeting larger species when fishing offshore. When fishing for larger species, or if baitfish are difficult to find, ‘sweetening’ the hooks with baits such as prawn, squid or fish flesh can lead to more bites.
As well as a range of equipment to catch your own bait Ray’s Outdoors also stock a wide range of frozen baits that will cover almost any fishing technique, location or species our customers choose to pursue. Frozen baits include whole Mullet for crabbing, prawns for fishing the estuary for Bream, Whiting and Flathead, or the freshwater for Bass, Yellowbelly and Silver Perch. Mullet gut, chicken gut and mullet fillets make up some other estuary options, along with squid. If heading offshore grab some pilchards, occy and a bulk pack of squid. If some beach fishing is the preferred option grab some worms and pippies for Dart and Whiting and some pilchards to chase a few Tailor or Salmon. There really is something there for everyone, wherever they are heading and whatever species they are chasing so familiarise yourself with what bait is available so that you can assist your customers to catch a fish or two and they’ll be back in to thank you.
Prawns are still the most popular bait in Australia. There are a variety of prawns available around the country, all of which are effective bait. Some people prefer to peel the prawn allowing fish to easily consume the bait and find the hook, others preferring to present the prawn shell on to preserve the natural life like appearance. In WA river prawns are preferred for river and estuary with coral prawns preferred in offshore waters.
Pilchards (‘Pillies’)/ Mulies
Research suggests that Pilchards and Mullet flesh are rapidly becoming more popular baits than Prawns. Pilchards can be fished whole on a gang rig for Tailor, Mackerel and Snapper, or chopped into pieces for chasing Bream, Flathead and Dart.
Not only is the flesh of Pilchards soft and desirable to most fish species, they also create their own berley trail. The oily nature of the flesh attracts fish from large distances and it is suggested that an hour of fishing with berley is like three hours without it.
Small “poddy” mullet are good live baits for such fish as Flathead, Mangrove Jack and Barramundi. Mullet are very oily, have a high fat content, and have a very rich distinct, strong fishy odour. Larger Mullet are popular bait because you can use the gut for bait, eat or use the fillets for bait and then put the Mullet frames in your crab pots. Mullet gut and pieces of Mullet fillet are recognised by many Bream anglers as the number one bait.
Mullet tend to school as juveniles and are therefore popular as target species for cast netters wanting live bait for fishing or just as crab bait. In some regions the mullet is also a popular angling target as a fish for the table.
Mullet Gut and Chook Gut
Along with flesh baits, gut baits are ideal for catching bream, a saltwater species available to anglers throughout Australia. As well as being a ‘gun’ bait for bream, most saltwater estuary and river species will take a well presented gut bait. Simply tear off enough gut to fill the hook, pierce the gut bait with the barb of the hook and continue to wrap the bait around the hook and pierce it again with the barb until the hook is filled with gut, without hanging strands.
Squid and Occy
Squid and octopus are popular baits across many regions including river and estuary, surf, rock and offshore. Both are tough baits that stay on the hook well, standing up to smaller fish picking at it, and the white colour makes visible and attractive to fish. Occy is recognised as one of the best offshore baits in WA. Peeling the skin from the occy leaves the soft white meat that is irresistible to snapper and dhufish.
Whitebait are excellent bait for just about anything including, Bream, Tailor, Herring and Trevally. They are also recognised as one of the best baits for Flathead. One popular method of baiting a hook with Whitebait is by threading a number of them on the hook whole, through the eyes. This method keeps the bait intact and natural looking.
These smooth-shelled molluscs are excellent bait for a wide range of fish and can be gathered from many ocean beaches around Australia. They are often abundant between the high and low tide marks on beaches where they burrow below the surface sand. Collecting pippies is best achieved by probing the sand with the feet, the “pippie shuffle”, or looking for small bumps in the sand where vehicles have driven which brings the pippies to the surface. They can be kept frozen for later use but are best used fresh. To open them bang them on the stainless not on the back of your Alvey reel to crack the shell, or open them carefully with a knife.
Many freshwater baits are gathered locally including earthworms, grasshoppers, bardy grubs, shrimp and yabbies, however Ray’s Outdoors do stock some frozen baits that are effective in freshwater. Prawns are often still fished in freshwater, along with saltwater worms and flesh baits. Some Ray’s Outdoors stores stock live worms, African night crawlers that make excellent freshwater bait.Back to Top