Catching squid

Squid are great live bait for many species. Fresh squid also makes great strip baits. Catching squid is relatively simple if you’re fishing the right areas. All you need is a light spin rod and a squid jig, which can be purchased at any tackle store. The size of the squid jig required will be determined by the depth of water you will be fishing and the average size of squid in your area. If you’re unsure, ask your local tackle store staff for advice. Squid jigs are available in many colours; pink and orange are popular and work well.

The most productive areas for squid are kelp beds, preferably a large area with the odd sandy patch. An effective method is to fan your casts from one end of the kelp bed to other, covering all the ground. Cast your squid jig as far as you can, let it sink until it’s a half metre above the kelp, and then twitch the rod sharply to make the jig rise and fall. Repeat this twitch throughout the retrieve and then cast again.

If you hook a squid, maintain a steady pressure during the retrieve—and make sure it expels all its ink before you bring it to the boat or shore!

Whiting tips

Whiting owe their popularity to a national distribution, relative accessibility and sweet table qualities. They are a great species for beginners soaking baits and have caused a stir recently with more experienced anglers enjoying success on small poppers.

There are a couple of tricks to catching on whiting on either bait or lure: Your line set-up should be as light as possible. Whiting are not big fish and they are mostly caught in sandy, snag-free areas so you can comfortably use one or two-kilo mainline and leaders. If you need a sinker for a bait rig, make it as small as is practical for the prevailing water movement and depth.

Bait fishers should employ small long-shank hooks and use several rods for each angler, cast out in a fan pattern, to increase your water coverage. Rig each rod with different bait until you see what is most popular on the day. Use fresh yabbies or bloodworms—it’s fun to catch them and more effective than frozen bait.

Focus on sand flats close to where you find your bait and keep changing your location if you don’t get a bite within 20 minutes. Once you find a school, try casting small poppers around for bigger whiting—you might even find a flathead by accident.

Tips for catching flathead

Flathead are an easy fish to catch and lend themselves well to many fish recipes, but you have to find them first.

Bait fishing is effective, but bearing in mind flathead are an ambush predator, lures will cover more ground and often attract bigger fish. Soft plastic lures rigged on jig heads appropriately weighted for the depth of water and prevailing current are your best bet.

A light rod with a line rating around 2kg and length of about 2m matched with a small threadline reel is ample power for the task-and fun to use.

Target open weedy areas in shallow bays and flats for smaller eating-size fish. Bigger fish can be found in areas subject to more tidal movement. Remember that large breeding fish are the future of the species, so handle and release them carefully. A large landing net will make that task much easier and protect your hands from the many spikes on flathead.

Snapper on plastics

Catching snapper on soft plastic lures is proving to be more effective than popular bait techniques. This phenomenon is so effective that if you adhere to the basics, you're almost guaranteed to catch a snapper.

As with most fishing, success revolves around attention to detail. With snapper on plastics, this means taking the time to ensure your soft plastics are rigged perfectly on jig heads. You also need to make sure your casts are as far forward of the boat's drift as possible, to avoid spooking the fish. And never drive over a spot you are about to fish. It also means utilising your GPS and depth sounder to make sure you're fishing the best areas. This last point is crucial.

Tips for tailor

Tailor are accessible and relatively easy to catch from the shore or boat. They are tenacious adversaries and very entertaining when in the mood for displaying their aerial gymnastics skills.

The best times to target tailor are around dawn and dusk. They feed actively during these low light periods but can be caught throughout the day your best bet being near schools of baitfish.

Pilchards rigged on gang hooks are popular with bait anglers. Lure chuckers enjoy success on metal spinning lures worked with a high-speed retrieve. Poppers are a fun lure option when worked with a mix of fast and slow retrieves.

Tailor have sharp teeth and many anglers employ wire traces to avoid being bitten off. If luring, this should be kept very short (5cm). If bait fishing with ganged hooks, don't use wire—you might lose the odd fish, but you'll attract a lot more bites with a monofilament leader and the ganged hooks will offer some protection against the teeth.

Bleeding your catch immediately, keeping the fish cool and handling with care to avoid bruising the soft flesh will result in a better taste on the table.