Bait gathering for junior anglers
  |  First Published: December 2004

While soft plastics may be inundating the fishing scene, the effectiveness of livebait should not be underestimated. And whether it’s soldier crabs, poddy mullet or worms, bait gathering is a lot of fun for junior anglers. It’s important to remember to only take what you need, as this will ensure that there is plenty of bait left for both our use and for the fish.

Soldier crabs

Soldier crabs have accounted for excellent hauls of bream, whiting and flathead. These crabs are quite easy to catch – all you need is a bucket containing some saltwater and sand. It’s lots of fun to collect them, and they are very effective on bread and butter fish.


When chasing the local species such as whiting and bream, there is no better bait than live yabbies. Yabbies are easy to find and, with a little assistance from Mum and Dad, you’ll end up with a top notch bait for the whole fishing session. Yabbies will put you in with a great chance of getting amongst the big ‘uns.

Yabbies are found on sandbanks left exposed by the tide, and finding them is relatively easy. When walking the shallows, look for small holes that are close together. All that’s needed to extract these little beauties is a yabby pump and a bait bucket. A word of warning though – try to stay away from their big nippers, as they are quite painful when they find the end of your fingers!


Chasing the old beachworm along the shores of our surf beaches has long been a pastime for many anglers. The rewards make it all worthwhile – at the end of a successful worming session you’ll have a supreme bait that will put you in with a good chance of taking home a feed.

The beachworm is the shy and retiring type, often caught when dragging fresh fish frames enclosed in a mesh bag across the wet sand. While you’re dragging the frames, any worms in the area will poke their heads out of the sand. They can stick out up to half a centimetre above the sand, and this protrusion makes a ‘V’ in the water. When you try to grab them, ensure that you have a firm grip as they are quite slippery customers.

The technique of catching beachworms takes a while to master, and it helps if you have a family member or friend who’s a more experienced wormer. They’ll be happy to show you the benefits of catching fresh livebait, and how enjoyable it really can be.

Cast net

A cast net should be in every fisherman’s arsenal. Whether you’re chasing flathead in the Broadwater or chasing pelagics miles offshore, a cast net is a must-have item. They are the perfect tool for catching livebait, whether it is prawns for barra up north or catching poddy mullet for jewfish.

Although the debate continues over which is the best way to throw a cast net, I believe the best way to throw it is as follows:

1. Firstly, make sure that the loop at the end of the rope is secured around your wrist.

2. Gather the rope in even loops into your left, having three loops of net in your hand. Make it so the net is about between your knee and your thigh.

3. Gathering the line from your index finger on the net down to the bottom, gather roughly one third of the net, making sure that the cast net is not caught on anything and is free from tangles.

4. With the net in your left hand, gather it and put it in the right hand. Now you should have all the weight in your right hand. Following this, grasp the bottom of the net so that the weights are taut.

5. Now you’re ready to throw. Make sure the cast net is free from possible snags such as fishing rods and tackleboxes. Your throw should be smooth and fluent. Release the net from your right just before the left to give the cast net the desired shape.

There are varying styles of cast nets with differing numbers of pockets, diameters and weight. For junior anglers I recommend an 8-foot mono cast net with top pockets. It’s important to be patient with throwing cast nets as they are quite difficult to master, but, as they say, ‘persistence pays’. [If you’d like to see photos of how to throw a cast net, there are some good ones at out www.castnets.com/throwing.htm - Ed.]

Till next month, good fishing to all you junior anglers out there.



1st Katarnya Lee (10) of Kowanyama

2nd Joshua Healing (8) of Cinnamon Park

3rd Jayden Zieth (6) of Clontarf


1) Collecting yabbies is a fun for the whole family.

2) There’s plenty of good bait to be found at the beach, including yabbies, beachworms and pipis.

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