Sea fishing, whether from the shoreline or a charter boat, can be an exhilarating experience, as you have the opportunity to go after fish species you simply won't find in freshwater lakes and rivers. However, if you're targeting saltwater species you'll need to ensure you have the right bait to attract the fish you're hoping to catch. Additionally, saltwater species tend to be attracted by fresh bait that's still alive or has recently been prepared, so it's best to either catch your bait yourself or buy it from a tackle shop close to your fishing spot right before you intend to use it. Here's an overview of the best bait to use for common saltwater species:
Yabbies, crayfish, prawns and small crabs are versatile baits that will attract a wide variety of carnivorous fish. Bream, snapper, leatherjackets, whiting, emperor and garfish all enjoy feasting on crustaceans. Collecting a few rock crabs first thing in the morning will help you attract drummer and groper, and black estuary crabs are enjoyed by parrot fish and grunter. If you're targeting reef dwelling fish, such as cod or warehou, crayfish are a good option, but they are also expensive, so balance the cost against the potential gains.
Mussels, cockles, clams and limpet are widely available and can be purchased inexpensively. They are also tough baits that don't fall apart easily when casting or fishing in rough waters. Salmon, whiting, bream, snapper and dart will all willingly take shellfish bait, and shellfish are ideal for targeting fish in deep waters and shallow coastline areas.
Bloodworms and beach worms can be harvested with a shovel from the coastline just after the tide has gone out. However, some states have restrictions on when they can be collected, so get in touch with the local fisheries department for advice if you want to collect marine worms yourself. These tough little worms can be used to catch salmon, flounder, mulloway and flathead.
Small, oily baitfish, such as mackerel and pilchards, attract a wide range of larger fish, who will consume them whole. Live baitfish is best and will attract kingfisher, barramundi, mahi mahi, tuna and cod. If you're only able to get hold of dead baitfish, use them whole to attract coral trout, boarfish, emperors, snapper and tailor.
If you're unsure what bait options are best for your fishing excursion, the local tackle shop or a fishing charter will be able to recommend bait and can also check your gear is set up correctly for the environment you'll be fishing in.