Fishing with Tony Lincoln | Bait Schools

Published 5:30am 4 February 2022

Fishing with Tony Lincoln | Bait Schools
Words by Tony Lincoln

Find the bait and you'll find the fish.

Find the birds and you'll find the fish.

One of the easiest ways to find bait schools is to look for the seabirds circling above and diving down to snatch up an unlucky baitfish. Feeding birds can be seen from quite long distances away, therefore making locating activity much easier. Once you get closer, you'll hopefully see white water from feeding fish as they break the surface.

While these scenarios appear chaotic, the fish beneath the surface are nearly always working together to keep the panicked baitfish packed tightly together and in one school. A common mistake anglers make when they find this happening is to roar the boat into the middle of the feeding frenzy and begin casting, only to find the action immediately stop and the dozens, (sometimes hundreds), of savagely feeding fish, disappear leaving only empty seas because the boat has broken up the bait school.

To maximise your chances at connecting to a fish in these situations, stay off the school and cast to the edges of the baitball or feeding area. This presents as a straggler separated from the safety in numbers security of the school. And don't be shy about letting your offering sink prior to retrieval. While we're looking at all the surface action, fish are working at surprising depths beneath. Water depth permitting, predators can be five or six meters, (and deeper), below what we're seeing on the surface.

There's a huge amount of coordination and activity going on down there. Trying to keep a lid on our excitement can be difficult when the surface is being smashed to foam, baitfish are showering from the water and the birds are adding their antics into the mix, but if we can think calmly and visualise what's going on underneath what we're looking at, we markedly increase our chances of presenting an offering that will be accepted. Work the edges. Work below. Give it a crack.

Thanks for reading again, and remember;

Talk to old people, they know stuff you don't.

Talk to young people, they know stuff you don't.


  • Rivers and creeks have been producing prawns and a few are just starting to appear with some increased consistency outside the mouths and the bays.
  • The odd Threadfin Salmon being caught and they should be haunting the prawn once they start to increase in numbers.
  • Summer whiting are still patchy but the results are there for those willing to put in the time and cover the ground with some quality fish being caught when the schools can be located.
  • Flathead still consistent around the peninsula.
  • Once again, squire and snapper on the inshores, off the rocky points and the occasional fish off the jetties up to the mid 50cm mark.
  • A few schools of mackerel seen feeding in Bramble Bay this week and also starting to reappear off the inshore reefs, jetties and also further afield in the bay for the boaties. Spotties in numbers shouldn't be too far away.
  • Mangrove Jack in the canals and the rivers and creeks.
  • Several very nice land-based Jewfish caught in Bramble Bay and the same with Cobia.
  • Mud and sand crabs in Bramble Bay, Deception Bay and in the rivers and creeks.


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