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Fishing With Live Bait

Live bait fishing is a time-honoured and effective method of angling that has been used by generations of fishermen. The use of live bait offers several advantages that can make your fishing trip more successful and enjoyable. The movement, smell, and taste of live bait can be irresistible to fish, making it an excellent choice for many fishing situations. The natural behaviour of live bait can trigger predatory instincts in fish, leading them to strike. Whether you're a beginner just starting out or an experienced angler looking for a change of pace, live bait fishing can add a new level of excitement to your fishing trips.

Types of Live Bait

We are fortunate in Australia to have a diverse range of live baits at our disposal, each with its own unique advantages. Some of the most common types of live bait used by Aussie anglers include beach worms, blood worms, yabbies, slimy mackerel, squid and nippers to name a few.


Beach worms and bloodworms are highly effective and versatile live baits that have become favourites among Australian anglers. Found along our coastlines, these worms are readily available and can attract a wide variety of fish species. Their natural movements in the water, combined with their enticing scent, make them irresistible to many fish, significantly increasing your chances of a successful catch.

Beach Worms

Beach worms are large, burrowing worms that inhabit sandy beaches and mudflats. They have a distinctive pinkish coloration and can grow up to several feet in length. These worms are highly prized by anglers for their effectiveness in attracting a range of fish species, including bream, whiting, flathead, and even larger predators such as mulloway and tailor.

To collect beach worms, you'll need to locate their burrows along the shoreline. Look for U-shaped or J-shaped depressions in the sand, indicating the presence of a worm. Gently dig around the burrow entrance using a specialized worming tool or your hands. Be patient and careful not to disturb the worm too much, as they can retreat deeper into their burrow if they sense danger. Once you've exposed a portion of the worm, carefully extract it by grasping its body and gently pulling it out.

Our live beach worms are supplied by Sand to Shore Beach Wo
Our live beach worms are supplied by Kaleb at Sand to Shore Beach Worms Photo Credit: Sand to Shore Beach Worms

Beach worms are highly resilient and can survive for extended periods out of the water if kept in a moist environment. Place them in a container with damp sand or seaweed to keep them cool and moist until you're ready to use them as bait.


Bloodworms, also known as sandworms or tube worms, are small, reddish-brown worms that inhabit sandy and muddy areas, particularly in estuaries and tidal flats. These worms are known for their strong scent and lively wriggling movements, making them an irresistible treat for many fish species.

To collect bloodworms, you'll need to locate their burrows, which can appear as small, volcano-shaped mounds on the surface of the sand or mud. Use a specialized worming tool or your fingers to carefully dig around the mound and locate the entrance of the worm's burrow. Gently extract the bloodworm by coaxing it out with your fingers or using a bait pump.

Like beach worms, bloodworms are hardy and can survive for some time if kept in a cool, moist environment. Store them in a container with damp sand or seaweed until you're ready to use them as bait.

Both beach worms and bloodworms can be presented on the hook using various techniques. For beach worms, you can thread them onto the hook, starting from the tail end and working towards the head, allowing the worm to wriggle enticingly in the water. Bloodworms, being smaller, can be presented whole on the hook or in sections, depending on the size of the fish you're targeting.

When using beach worms or bloodworms as live bait, it's important to handle them gently to avoid damaging their delicate bodies. Keeping them lively and presenting them naturally in the water will maximize their effectiveness in attracting fish.


Yabbies, also known as freshwater crayfish or crawfish, are highly effective live baits that can entice a variety of fish species in Australian waters. These small crustaceans are a natural part of many fish's diets and can be found in rivers, lakes, dams, and even coastal estuaries.

To catch yabbies, you'll need a yabby pump or bait trap. Look for suitable habitats such as sandy or muddy riverbanks, particularly areas with vegetation or submerged logs where yabbies like to hide. Set up your yabby pump or bait trap and submerge it in the water, baiting it with meat or fish scraps to attract the yabbies. Slowly and gently pump the handle of the yabby pump or wait patiently for the yabbies to enter the trap. Once caught, handle them carefully, as their pincers can deliver a pinch if mishandled.

Yabbies can be presented on a hook using different techniques depending on the fish species you're targeting. For larger predatory fish like Murray cod or yellowbelly, threading the yabby onto the hook through its tail or tail flap can create a natural-looking presentation. This allows the yabby to move freely in the water, attracting the attention of hungry predators.

For smaller fish species like bream or silver perch, you can present a whole or half-yabby on a smaller hook. This allows the scent and movement of the yabby to entice the fish.

When using yabbies as live bait, it's essential to keep them in good condition. Place them in a suitable container with freshwater or damp vegetation to keep them moist and prevent them from drying out. Change the water regularly to maintain its quality.

Yabbies are most effective when presented in areas where they naturally occur, such as submerged logs, rocky structures, or weed beds. Cast your bait near these structures or use a float rig to suspend the yabby in the water column.

Experiment with different techniques, such as gently twitching the line or letting the bait sit still, to mimic the natural movements of a yabby. This can help entice fish that are attracted to the yabby's scent and movement.

Slimy Mackerel

A wriggling slimy mackerel is an irresistible treat for large predatory fish. These live baits are particularly effective for targeting species such as marlin, tuna, kingfish, and even flathead. The natural movement and scent of a slimy mackerel can trigger the predatory instincts of these species, making them highly sought after.

To catch slimy mackerel inshore, it's important to create a burley stream to attract them to your boat. Burley is a mixture of fish parts, oils, and other attractants that are dispersed into the water to create a scent trail. This scent trail entices the slimy mackerel to come closer to investigate, increasing your chances of catching them. As the slimy mackerel gather around your boat, you can cast your baited hooks into the burley trail and wait for the predators to strike.

Slimy Mackerel, also known as Blue Mackerel are sought after live bait Photo Credit: Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

When fishing offshore, your sounder becomes a valuable tool for locating bait balls. Slimy mackerel often form large schools and can be seen as dense patches on your sounder display. These bait balls are usually found around wrecks, reefs, and man-made structures where they find shelter and abundant food sources. Once you've located a bait ball, you can drop a Sabiki rig through the middle of the school. A Sabiki rig consists of multiple small hooks on short dropper lines, mimicking a school of small fish. This rig is highly effective at catching slimy mackerel as they are attracted to the movement and appearance of the smaller hooks.

When handling slimy mackerel as live bait, it's important to keep them in optimal condition. Place them in a well-aerated live bait tank or bucket filled with fresh seawater to ensure they stay healthy and active. It's also advisable to use a quality bait rigging needle or small bait clips to secure the hooks onto the slimy mackerel without causing harm. Keeping the bait lively and presenting it naturally will increase its attractiveness to the targeted predatory fish.

Cuttlefish & Squid

Squid and cuttlefish are often considered the ultimate live baits as they are highly effective for targeting a wide range of species, from kingfish to snapper and even some types of sharks. Their unique movement and the scent they emit in the water make them irresistible to many predatory fish.

The challenge when using these baits is catching them. They are masters of camouflage and can often be tricky to locate and catch. They are typically found around weed beds with sand patches, where they blend in with their surroundings and hunt for their prey.

Ideal conditions for catching squid and cuttlefish include a high tide and clear water. During high tide, they often come closer to the shore to hunt, making them easier to catch. Clear water is also beneficial as it allows you to see the squid and cuttlefish more easily.

When it comes to catching squid and cuttlefish, using a squid jig can be highly effective. These lures are designed to mimic the movement of a prawn, a favourite food of both squid and cuttlefish. Cast your jig out, let it sink, and then retrieve it with a series of sharp lifts and pauses to attract the attention of any squid or cuttlefish in the area.

Once you've caught your squid or cuttlefish, it's important to handle them carefully to avoid injury. Both creatures have a beak that can deliver a painful bite, and squid are also capable of squirting ink when threatened.

Live bait fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience. With the right bait and techniques, you can attract a variety of fish and enjoy a successful fishing trip. Ready to give live bait fishing a try? Explore our collection of live bait here and experience the thrill of fishing with live bait!

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