One of the most commonly used baits and sought after by a large variety of fish is the humble pilchard. Its appearance alone entices fish to eat it, but its strong smell and high oil content adds to its attractiveness as bait. It's closely related to the sardine and herring, and it is ideal for usage as berley when diced.
The pilchard though does have some drawbacks. One common complaint is that it is relatively soft and difficult to keep on a hook for any length of time, especially when used during rough surf conditions.
Pilchards can be purchased from tackle shops in several alternative packages. A 1kg bag of frozen pilchards offers you about 2 dozen pilchards and this is plenty for an afternoon stint of fishing for snapper or salmon. Keeping in mind though that the pilchards, if refrozen, should only be used next time for berley. Pilchards do not refreeze very well.
Although brined or salted pilchards are not as popular as the frozen variety, there are many fisherman who use them , as brining toughens pilchard flesh markedly and hence reduces the problem of the bait falling apart while casting. Brining also lessens the volume of natural oil and takes away some of the attractive sheen that pilchards have.
Squid is also another bait that is well sought after by fish such as Mulloway, Snapper, Leatherjackets and King George Whiting. The small variety of squid which is offered as bait in the tackle shops is imported from America or Europe in frozen blocks.
Squid freezes particularly well and in some instances it is probably better used for bait if frozen first, rather than fresh from the sea. For larger fish like Snapper or Mulloway, Squid can be presented in several ways. The squid head contains a lot of fluid which are attractive to big Red Snapper, and they can be used either whole or cut in half. Using whole squid as bait is best done with a 2 hook rig, and its important to ensure that both hook points are well exposed.
Squid strips work well with Snapper. For the larger variety of snapper, a dual hook rig of 5/0 - 6/0 hooks is recommended, where as 3/0 - 4/0 is just right for the smaller "rugger" variety. Half hitch knots are not necessary as squid is relatively tough and sits well on a hook. Some fishermen find squid sometime too tough, and may slightly tenderize it with a small steak mallet.
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