A guide to Hervey Bay baits
  |  First Published: April 2016

It’s no secret that the most dramatic development in angling over a number of decades has been the creation of a seemingly endless variety of artificials. This should not be news to any of our readers as they are most likely ardent users of at least some lures. Successful as they might be, there are still lots of situations where fresh baits just can’t be beaten.

This month I’d like to take a look at baits that are easily collected or caught by the angler. The time spent collecting can be as enjoyable as the fishing itself. In this column I will restrict myself to the beaches of Fraser Island and the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay and Sandy Straits.


When selecting bait for a particular fish, the best plan is to look to match the natural food source as far as possible. This applies particularly to the beaches of the island (Wongs or Eugarie), where the two most successful baits are pipis and beach worms. The only island fish that isn’t partial to either of these is tailor. Along the eastern beach, pipis may be either buried in the damp sand at about half-tide level, or lower down in the wash of the waves. As vehicles travel along the firm, half-tide beach, pipis respond to the stimulus and move towards the surface. You will see a pipi mound emerge, often with a small hole at one end, and a crack with the pipi near the surface. When pipi mounds are spotted it is easy to dig them out by hand or with a piece of PVC pipe cut at an angle to simulate a shovel. If they cannot be spotted on the high beach there is a fair chance that they will be down in the wash. Pipis can be kept for a few days in buckets or shallow trays of seawater. They must be kept cool, out of the sun, and have the water changed regularly. One my pet hates is to see buckets of pipis going rotten for want of proper attention. There is a bag limit of 50 for pipis.

Sea worms

Sea worms are plentiful along Fraser’s eastern beach and sections of the western beach. Catching them is a skill that not everyone develops to a high degree. Even with the basics explained, eventual success takes hours of practice with little reward. The best plan is to find people worming and ask if you can watch what they are doing. Most will be happy to oblige and most will explain what is going on. However don’t waste time with someone who knows little about what they are doing. You will only be led up the garden path.

The most common mistake that learners make is not putting their fingers down far enough, away from the very sensitive nerves around the worm’s head, before securely putting pressure on its body. Good wormers have their own individual methods. I have had the pleasure of teaching many of the younger members of our family my own particular method. Now their techniques bear not the slightest resemblance to mine, and they catch more worms! Sea worms have a bag limit of 30 whole worms or parts thereof.

Occasionally schools of anchovy, white and blue pilchards come in close enough to be cast netted. Often in their attempts to escape predators they will wash up onto the beach. These are the easy pickings. These baitfish are great to target bream and flathead on the ocean beach.

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