We all know the old fishing saying ‘fresh is the best and live is better’. But in today’s go-go society how much easier is it to just go buy a pack of frozen bait from the tackle shop/servo. Or maybe you’re a lure fisherman and don’t even touch bait? Either way, if this sounds like you then listen up. I reckon if you want to consistently catch big fish, then live bait is the way to go. Now I’m not saying you won’t catch big fish on the before mentioned methods – I’ll often daggle a soft plastic, fly or frozen pillie in my local waterway. But using live bait correctly will have you catching better fish, more often. In this week’s blog I go through my top five favourite live baits for fishing in NSW.


"If you want to consistently catch big fish, then live bait is the way to go."




Not many large predatory fish can say no to a wiggling yellowtail or a squirming slimy mackerel. From marlin and tuna to kingfish and even flathead, these live baits are easy to catch and deadly on the hook. When fishing inshore, a burley stream is often required to get the yellowtail and slimy mackerel under the boat. If you’re fishing offshore, use your sounder to locate bait balls, then drop a Sabiki rig (a long set of several hooks with flashers) through the middle of them.


Find them: in big schools around wrecks, reefs and man-made structure.


A slimy mackerel rigged up and ready for action.



Casting out a lightly weighted saltwater nipper on fluorocarbon leader is as close to a guaranteed fish as it gets. Perfect for bream, flatties and whiting, these prehistoric looking crustaceans are the delectable delights of the estuary. Hit the flats at low tide and look for small holes in the sand, then using a yabby pump work the areas near the waterline.


Find them: clawing under the surface on tidal sand flats.


A good little haul of nippers for a bream session.



If you can resist the urge to dice them into calamari rings then squid and sometimes cuttlefish, can make the ultimate live bait. Known Australia wide as kingfish candy, the humble cephalopod can often be tricky to catch - but the fish just can’t get enough of them. Ideal squidding conditions consist of a nice high tide and some clear water.


Find them: inking their way around weed beds with sand patches throughout.


Kingfish candy!



Smelly, scaly and scary looking, I certainly wouldn’t want to eat a long-finned pike – but most bigguns with gills usually do. Pike can be found in small schools and can be caught with anything from small soft plastics to hardbodies and even flies too. 


Find them: terrorising whitebait on shallow weed beds.


This pike got smashed by a cuttlefish before the kingfish even had a chance!



They take a lot of practice to catch, but once you’ve mastered it you will get more bites. Yep, last but not least are beach worms. The perfect bait for (you guessed it) beach fishing, these slippery suckers will catch almost anything that peruses the surf zone of our coastal beaches. Use old stocking filled with burley to attract them to the surface of the sand at low tide.


Find them: poking their heads out of the sand on coastal surf beaches. 


A bit of burley around the surf will have beach worms poking up their heads for a look.



Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email or leave a comment below.


Until next week.


Jack Murphy


© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography



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