Luring catches anglers out: Bait fishing still the best
LURES v bait fishing. Which of these is the best technique remains a hotly debated issue among anglers.
What you favour is a personal choice, which is the way it should always be.
But it will take some convincing for me to suddenly give up the pilchards, prawns, worms and live bait to start casting lures.
My recent holiday reassured me that using fresh bait is still the best - unless you are in fish-rich habitats away from the masses.
On a recent holiday to Caloundra and Hervey Bay, I would have needed ice to ease the pain in my hands if I had persisted with lures.
Getting a strike on my attempts casting and retrieving a lure were fruitless.
I'm the first to admit I've never been keen on lures given years of success using bait.
I will also happily concede I have a lot to learn about which lures work best. But there's so many different types on the market these days, I reckon it's the angler getting hooked.
Like everything, it takes patience, trial and area and experience to know what lure to use for what species in what location at what time.
But as much as I love fishing, using lures just doesn't tempt me to keep trying. That is with the exception of my offshore trip in the predatory waters off Groote Island.
Using lures that day, I couldn't miss catching more than a dozen different species. It was simply exhilarating.
But that feeding frenzy is rare.
In crowded South East Queensland locations, you can only dream of having that much fun with lures.
At least with bait, you can enjoy feeling a fish check it out, maybe take a short run and hopefully grab it before being hooked.
The skill is knowing when to strike, especially for finicky species like flathead which will spit a hook effortlessly, even after chewing on a bait for some time.
I have no doubt the right lure within striking distance of a lazy feeding flathead might do the trick.
But what other species do you miss out on by just luring like that?
Bream, grunter, whiting, moses perch and estuary cod will gobble down a pilchard in no time if you cast a bait in the right spot.
It's actually relaxing waiting for a bite, especially in the calm of night when you have a beach or bay to yourself.
I'm sure lure fishing at night can also be successful. But I'm yet to fish with someone able to highlight how effective luring can be after dark.
Tagging expert Neil Schultz once took me freshwater fishing and caught bass after bass using lures. He has mastered the art of luring, among his many other angling skills.
But one-off trips like that doesn't change my thinking.
One of the most rewarding parts of fishing is using a fresh slab of mullet or pilchard in a gutter and waiting for a tailor or jew to strike.
Feeling the reel spin and controlling the tempo of the fish is so much fun.
That is unless it's a deadweight catch like a stonefish I caught on my recent holiday to Caloundra.
Using baits like mullet gut can be smelly and messy. But it brings consisent success attaching a self-berleying bait to a hook and waiting for a strike.
Casting a lure hundreds of times doesn't cut it for me, unless I know there's a hungry predator waiting.
I've seen the countless videos showing anglers hooking big predators on lures, mainly in secluded locations.
But I can't recall the last time I saw someone using a lure catch a fish next to me, with the exception of those offshore trips or in freshwater hot spots like Somerset Dam.
And choosing a lure is more confusing than bait fishing.
Until proven otherwise, fresh bait is the way to go for me. It's just agreeing on what bait is best - sand worms or pilchards, prawns or mullet gut?
That is a lively debate for another day.
This article is part of a Fishy Tales series focusing on unusual experiences, adventures and topical issues.