Bay Fishing Sessions with the Family

By Jamie Crawford

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and enjoy the simplicities of fishing. Too often I find myself focussed on targeting a particular species, and put pressure on myself to find quality fish. This past summer – while we have enjoyed some really good offshore fishing – I’ve also really enjoyed taking my family out on the water to enjoy some bay fishing. We have a beautiful bay system here in Port Lincoln, with several smaller bays and coves branching from the main system. This creates a lot of calm, protected water which is ideal for young kids.   

The fishing in our bay waters during the warmer time of year is good, with a mix of blue crabs, squid and a few whiting. It’s true that summer isn’t the best time of year for our local whiting, but if you persist you will still catch a feed.

The beauty of crabbing and squidding is that it’s active. There’s no sitting around waiting for action. We generally set our crab nets along the 4 to 6m depth line through the bay, and after 20-odd minutes we’ll start the retrieve. There’s always a bit of excitement when the pots are being pulled – waiting to see if there’s the colour of a feisty blue crab inside. The highlight for our kids on a recent session was having a seahorse inside one of the hoop nets. The seahorse was quickly returned to the water, but our kids thought that was pretty cool.

After a session on the crabs, we normally do some drift fishing for squid around some of the rocky points within the bay. Once again, this is an active form of fishing, so there isn’t too much down time. After positioning the boat for the drift, we fire some Egixile squid jigs over the weed beds and areas of broken bottom. These bay grounds are usually quite shallow, and we often target water in the 2 to 4m depth.

Chasing calamari is great for kids. It helps them practice their casting, helps them learn how to retrieve and work a lure, and because squid are quite aggressive, they usually have success, which gives them confidence. I have a preference for light coloured Egixile jigs in the middle of the day, namely White and Gold, with Olive, Rainbow ad Black effective later in the day in lower light conditions. When you hit a patch of squid it great fun – but chaotic when kids are on board with ink squirting in all directions.

After some time on the water, our kids always ask for a swim. I usually pull the boat up to one of the local beaches in the bay or on a nearby island. This gives them the chance to run, swim and play, and gives my wife and I the chance to flick soft plastics for flathead through these shallower margins. It’s a win-win.

I really enjoy flicking plastics for our Southern Bluespot flathead here in SA. While they don’t grow to the proportions of the Duskies up the east coast, they still readily hit plastics and are a cool fish to catch. My preferred plastic for our local flatties is the 65mm Squidgie Wriggler Tail Prawn in cloud. Matched to a light outfit, it allows you to effectively work these beaches and areas of scattered weed. My favoured outfit for this work is a Twin Power 2000 matched to 2 – 5kg TK3G with 5lb Power Pro braid and 10lb Ocea fluorocarbon leader.

By planning your time on the water with the family in tow, it is possible to secure a feed of fresh seafood, while offering everyone the opportunity to learn and have fun. Don’t overlook simple sessions in the bay; they can be just as rewarding as an offshore session.