by Jarrod Day
When it comes to catching whiting in Western Port, Victoria, nothing beats using fresh bait. Though pipi’s are the first choice for most anglers, purely because of there accessibility in service stations and tackle store freezers but fresh live bait still reigns supreme. Some anglers may choose fresh strips of calamari, some mussels but all in all the best by far is the live bass yabby.
The mud flats of Western Port are all worth pumping.
Bass yabbies, one arm bandits, nippers, call them what you will but they are deadly when it comes to fishing for whiting and other estuarine species.
Bass yabbies can be found in most waterways especially those lined with a mud substrate bottom.
Whiting, silver trevally and other fishes search out bass yabbies on the tidal flats in which they inhabit.
For an angler in search of whiting, nothing beats hitting the tidal flats armed with a bait pump and sieve to collect a few prior to heading out.
When searching for bass yabby habitat, you need to locate mud flats which are affected by tidal influence. On the top of the tide, these areas should be underwater while on the low, totally exposed.
In Victoria and in particular Western Port, these areas are spread right throughout but pumping them requires some degree of understanding.
Atypical hole where bass yabbies can be found.
Firstly you need to know what you’re looking for. Bass Yabbies burrow into the soft mud leaving a small hole. Finding a likely location as to where they are is quite simple actually. A mud flat that is infested with Bass Yabbies will have millions of holes in every direction you can see. These holes are the homes in which the bass Yabbies live.
Due to the soft mud that they inhabit, walking on it during a low tide can cause anglers to become stuck or up to their knees in mud. To avoid this, pump when there is still a slight covering of water over the flats. This will ensure that the mud has a little hardness about it making it easier to walk on.
Make sure you have the right tools for the trade.
Once you have a location, the process of extracting them is quite simple. With a bait pump in hand, place it over the hole. As you draw back on the pumps handle, push into the mud simultaneously. Once you have the pump handle fully extended pull the pump out of the sand and push the mud/sand out into a sieve and swirl around into the water until you are left with your prize. Repeat this process until you have enough for a fishing session.
Bass yabbies are quite a delicate bait and if not put on the hook correctly will die very quickly or fall off the hook. When rigging them it is best if a circle hook or long shank hook is used. This can be gently threaded into the tail section without piercing the abdomen. Providing this procedure is done correctly, you will maximise the yabbies life when cast out. The last thing you need is for it to die just after rigging it.
In Victoria, Bass Yabbies have a 100 maximum bag limit per fishing licence holder so if you are going to gather some for a trip, make sure you don’t exceed this limit.
The next time you’re thinking about whiting fishing, grab a pump and gather some fresh bait before your session. These pocket rockets are irresistible to a hungry whiting and if you want to increase your chances at success, thread on one of these guy’s, you’ll be hooked up in no time.
The culprit, the humble Bass Yabbie.
A collection of fresh bait ready to be used.
When extracting, push the mud into a seive and sift in water to exose the yabbies.
When pumping make sure you fully extend the handle while pushing into the mud.