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Any ways to keep bait on your hook without losing it to small fish?


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Hey all,


I have been getting into lagoon bait fishing recently to target Flathead. I have been using pilchards and get constant nibbles. Even though I use hooks sized 3/0 and above, all the small fish in the area eat around the hook and and always left over with the bones.

Methods I have tried using to keep the bait on are using combinations of larger sized octopus hooks, baitkeeper hooks and stinger hooks. I have also tried using some string material that you can wrap many times to hold the bait. I have yet to try salted pilchards.

Im determined to know if there is anyone out here that knows some methods not mentioned to keep these pilchards or other great flathead baits on their hooks!

Also interested to know any additional tips on Flathead around this time of season as its been very slow. I have fished over about 3-4 weekends at Narrabeen Lagoon and have only caught 2 Flathead, one JUST legal and one undersized.

Thanks in advanced!

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I think bait choice, method and hook size are things you can vary.

Regarding bait choice, try trapping some poddy mullet and using them for live bait. If there’s lots of small fish in the area, chances are there are big predators around. Note that you can’t use just any fish for live baits; you need to comply with size and bag limits.

Or you could use a smaller hook and bait and find what these small fish are. So a size 6-10 will catch most fish and even handle massive fish if you are gentle. But in your spot the likelihood is that they are tiny bream.

Finally your choice of method. If you are sick of rebaiting, then why not try lures? Plenty of of info here to get you started: 


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I think you need to change your approach. The problem you described will continue to be a problem if you continue to use pilchards or a soft bait. The other thing is the nature of the way you are fishing. The analogy I use is it is like a bbq with a whole group of families. Put food on the table and it is all the little kids which rush in first. Then the bigger kids then the adults. There are more smaller fish in the areas you are fishing and they are most likely to find the food first as you have found.

Several ways to get around this. Switch to a more robust bait such as squid (or livies as suggested by @Little_Flatty) or switch to lures. The flathead is an ambush predator waiting for food to come to it rather than actively hunting. You need to cover ground with your lure or bait.

Edited by DerekD
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