Live Baiting
  |  First Published: September 2008

Live baiting is one of the best and most fun ways to fish. But before you go fishing you have to make sure you’ve got the right rig set up.

There are two main ways to rig up. The first is just a simple single circle tied on the end and the other is using a stinger rig, which is a two hook rig. Sometimes you can use a treble hook on the end of the stinger rig.

The hooks we like to use are Gamakatsus and Mustad hooks. Good traces for live baiting are Penn leaders and Black Magic leaders.

One of the most fun parts of live bait fishing has got to be catching the live bait itself. The rig you use for catching live bait, surprising enough, is called a live bait rig. You can get live bait rigs from any bait and tackle store, and all you have to do is tie one end to your fishing line and the other end to a suitable size sinker.

The main places we catch our live bait are around the shipping channel beacons and bait grounds, which is just a bit of broken bottom that the livies hang around. Some other places you can get live bait from are the places that you are intending to fish, because you will tend to find they will be hanging on that same structure as well. The livies caught in these areas tend to be yakkas, slimmies, herring, tailor and small trevally.

Once you’ve got these livies on board you then have to find somewhere to keep them alive. We keep ours in the live bait tank built into the boat but you can use a bucket with an aerator. These livies are good for anything like mackerel, cobia, snapper, cod, yellowtail kings, tuna and plenty of others.

It can be a good idea to get someone else to drop a slug to the bottom of the bait and crank it back up, while you’re jigging the livies. While doing this we’ve caught mackerel, tuna, and cobia.

Once you’ve found and anchored up on the area you plan to fish, it is time to rig the livies up. If you use the one hook rig you can either put it threw its nose or threw the top of its lower back. If you’re using the two hook rig (stinger rig) put one hook threw the nose and one hook threw the upper back. Depending on what your chasing, you can have a sinker on it to get it down to the reef fish or keep it around the surface for the pelagic.

Another way to fish livies is by slow trolling them. If you have a downrigger you can use that also to slow troll. Now you should be able to go out to a local reef or wreck and drop a livie or two on it.

Estuary style

Live baiting estuary style is not much different to reef live baiting. The only real difference is how to catch the bait and what type.

There are two main ways to catch live bait in the estuaries; with a cast net and a drag net. The main livies you find in the estuary are mullet, gar, herring, bony bream, small winter whiting, and prawns, if you’re lucky.

The rigs are the same style but just with smaller hooks and trace. Rigging your livies is also the same with one hook threw the mouth or back, or the two hooks one threw the mouth and one threw the back.

You can catch almost anything from live bait fishing, from barramundi, mangrove jack, flathead, jew, cod, bream, tailor, trevally and many more.

Hopefully this will be enough for you to get started and be able to catch big fish on live bait.


There are different ways to set up a stinger rig: A single hook with a treble attached at the bottom (left); or, a two hook rig with the second hook attached at the bottom.

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