When it comes to collecting your own sea fishing bait you have plenty of options. Sometimes you may be slightly limited in certain areas or times of the year, but its about if you look. For instance Mackerel in winter or squid in the northwest of the UK can be difficult to catch. However that is what the freezer comes in handy for!
Little to no investment is needed in some cases and there is no need to go out of your way. Plan collecting bait into your fishing trip, take a cooler box too to keep it fresh. Ie if you catch plenty of mackerel and you are not using them during the session, freeze it down as fresh as possible.
The advantages of collecting your own sea fishing bait are twofold really. Cost is one reason, a pack of 10 worms can cost around £6 in some areas. Secondly you know it’s fresh, the fresher the better in most anglers opinion. Buying “fresh lugworm” that is well past its best is disheartening to say the least. Sometimes frozen can also be really poor, ruined lug frozen down to make a few more quid. Regardless, good or bad you will still pay the same
Lug Worm is pretty abundant on most beaches with Lug beds. Up until more recently Lug Worm was dug with a spade or fork. These days it done less labour intensely using bait pumps, it can still be hard work though. For general sea fishing Lug Worm is the best all round bait in my opinion. Cost, availability and you can catch most species with it. Low tides are the only way to access the Lug beds.
Blow Lug is a killer bait for most species. it’s not as widely available as it does not fair well when dead or frozen, at all. It has to be fresh all the way for beach casting. However it can be used dead / frozen for mini species when LRF fishing or bulking up baits. It goes very squishy if frozen and thawed.
Ragworm beds when found are best dug out using a sturdy garden fork. This helps reduce any damage to the worms when digging down. The tail end of the worms are particularly delicate in comparison with other marine species. Ragworm is in my humble opinion one of the best alround fishing baits.
Mackerel is the work horse of sea fishing baits and is often used to catch larger fish species. They tend to arrive at the end of March on the south coast of the UK. Numbers increase as the sea temperature rises and they will start to move further north. Silver Mackerel feathers into deeper coastal waters will usually produce in Summer.
Herring are a winter species of bait fish in the UK. They tend to be caught in calmer, deeper coastal waters or from the boats. A great bait when Mackerel are scarce. Sabaki rigs work well. Holyhead Breakwater for example will produce in winter.
Squid is more often than not caught from the boats. It is also caught from piers and breakwaters with access to deeper waters. Night time is usually best and simple squid jigs will suffice.
Razor Clams, Muscales, Limpets and various other molluscs can all be used if needed. Nearly all are abundant around the UK coastline if you in a pinch. We have tried and tested all and they work well for various species. Don’t outright discredit them until you have tried them.
Prawn can be caught all over the coast using a simple baited drop net or push net. Rock pools, especially in summer can contain a good amount of prawn and can be caught with a child net. Just stick it under the edges of the pools where the weed is. They will keep alive and fresh in a simple small bucket. Prawn is an under used and underrated fishing bait, all fish will eat them.
Collecting your own baits can be satisfying when you catch knowing you put in the work first. It also saves money in the long run as most can be frozen down for future sessions. If you get caught out on a last minute fishing session when the bait shops are closed you will always have a back up. Foraged baits also work well for bulking up or tipping baits too. Limpets for example are tough and can stop Lug from sliding down and covering your hookpoint.