How to use a bait jig

Catching Live Bait On The Gold Coasts Close Reefs

Catching Live Bait on the Gold Coast’s Close Reefs


The Gold Coast, nestled along the southeastern coast of Queensland, is a paradise for avid anglers seeking the ultimate fishing experience. This coastal haven is renowned for its stunning shoreline and diverse marine life, making it a prime destination for fishing enthusiasts. When it comes to maximizing your chances of landing those trophy fish, using live bait can be the key to success. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you how to capture two highly prized live baits in the Gold Coast area: Yellowtail Scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae) and Slimy Mackerel (Scomber australasicus)

Live bait fishing
How to use a bait jig

Understanding the Target Species

  1. Yellowtail Scad:

    • Yellowtail Scad, also known as Yellowtail and Yakkas, are a schooling fish commonly found on the shallower reefs and wrecks along the Gold Coast.
    • Their most distinguishing feature is their vibrant yellow tail fin.
    • Yellowtail Scad typically measure between 20-30 cm (8-12 inches) in length but can grow up to 40 cm (16 inches).
    • Their energetic swimming and enticing scent make them a prized choice for live bait among big predatory fish species such as mackerel, cobia and marlin.
  2. Slimy Mackerel:

    • Slimy Mackerel are a small, pelagic species often found near rocky reefs, drop-offs, and offshore structures.
    • They earned their name due to the slimy coating on their skin, which adds to their appeal as live bait.
    • Slimy Mackerel usually grow to a size of 15-25 cm (6-10 inches), although they can occasionally reach lengths of up to 35 cm (14 inches).
    • Their oily flesh and natural scent make them irresistible to predatory species.

Essential Tackle and Equipment for Catching Live Bait

To embark on a successful live bait fishing excursion for Yellowtail Scad and Slimy Mackerel, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the right gear and equipment:

  • A lightweight to medium-action spinning rod and reel.
  • A 10-20 lb monofilament or braided fishing line.
  • Small hooks (ranging from size 8 to 12) for bait.
  • Sabiki rigs or small jigs.
  • A live bait tank or container designed to maintain the vitality and health of your baitfish.
Sailfish Gold coast Australia
Amberjack caught on a live bait

Locating the Prime Bait Fishing Spots

The Gold Coast boasts numerous close reefs and rocky structures that frequently harbor Yellowtail Scad and Slimy Mackerel. Some popular bait fishing spots include the 18 fathom, Palm Beach Reef, Mermaid Reef, and the Gold Coast 1 mile SE of the Seaway. Leverage local knowledge and fish finders to pinpoint the most promising locations.

Techniques for Capturing Live Bait

  1. Sabiki Rigs:

    • Sabiki rigs are the preferred choice for capturing baitfish. They come equipped with multiple small hooks adorned with colorful, reflective material to attract the attention of the fish.
    • The technique involves casting the Sabiki rig into the midst of the schooling baitfish, enticing them with a jigging motion, and subsequently retrieving the rig slowly.
  2. Hooks:

    Tiny hooks can also prove highly effective for capturing Yellowtail Scad and Slimy Mackerel. Cast your baited rig into the school of baitfish. For best results use squid tentacles or small pieces of prawn of fish flesh

Care and Storage of Live Bait

After successfully capturing Yellowtail Scad and Slimy Mackerel, it is imperative to handle them with care to ensure they remain lively and in peak condition for your fishing expedition. Place them within a live bait tank or a suitable container filled with fresh seawater, ensuring adequate oxygenation and water circulation.

live bait school

Catching Live Bait with True Blue Fishing Charters

For anglers looking to maximize their live bait fishing experience on the Gold Coast, consider joining a trip with True Blue Fishing Charters. Their expert guides are well-versed in the local waters, ensuring you access the most fruitful fishing spots. With their guidance, you can enhance your live bait capture skills and increase your chances of landing that coveted trophy fish. True Blue Fishing Charters offers a comprehensive angling experience, making your Gold Coast fishing adventure truly unforgettable.


Capturing live bait on the Gold Coast’s close reefs is an immensely rewarding experience for any angler. These baitfish, Yellowtail Scad and Slimy Mackerel, are exceptionally effective at attracting larger game fish such as tuna, kingfish, cobia, mulloway and mackerel. Always adhere to local regulations and size limits while practicing responsible fishing to safeguard the sustainability of these species for future generations of anglers. Armed with the right equipment, techniques, and the assistance of True Blue Fishing Charters, you’re well on your way to a successful day of angling adventure, all within the stunning backdrop of the Gold Coast.


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