Fishing with Live Bait

The vast majority of fish consume other animals as part of their diets, and therefore the use of live bait has an obvious draw for many anglers. Rather than using artificial baits which seek to mimic a fish’s real food source, they instead seek to use an actual example of that food source as their bait. Whilst the use of live bait is effective, completely legal and an established practice amongst anglers, there may be restrictions in the area where you are fishing, so be aware of these restrictions. You should also be mindful of other anglers who are fishing near to you, as the use of live bait can be a controversial topic for some.

When fishing in New South Wales, be aware that anglers are prohibited from using live mammals or live frogs as bait. The use of non-native species of fish is not permitted, whether the specimen is alive or dead, due to the possibility that these creatures may pass on non-native diseases. Live fin fish must also be avoided in inland waters.

If you catch a prohibited size of fish, you are not permitted to use this fish as bait to catch other fish.

Rigging live bait

After choosing a type of live bait which will attract your fish of choice, you will need to create a small habitat in which to keep them alive until you are ready to use them. Make sure that there is proper air circulation and something for them to feed on, if you are planning on keeping your bait for longer than a few hours. You need to wait until you are just about to cast off before you rig your bait, or else you run the risk of the bait being dead by the time it gets into the water. The wriggling of your live bait is part of what attracts the fish, so it is essential that the bait is still alive when it goes into the water.

When rigging, grasp your bait firmly with one hand, so that it cannot escape.

If you are using a fish, place the hook firmly through the dorsal fin or through the lip and jaw. Although hooking through the dorsal fin is more secure, the bait is likely to live longer if hooked through the jaw.  If hooking crayfish, hook them through the tail or the head. If using live worms, caterpillars or grubs, you may have to hook them a few times by bunching the animal up.

livebait jig

When you come to casting off your bait, cast it gently, so that you do not lose or damage the bait when it hits the water. Once in the water, the bait can be free to move around to a limited extent. If you want more control over the depth that your bait is moving at, you may need to add extra weights to your line. Keep a light touch on the line, and you should be able to feel stronger than average pulls which may indicate a catch.