Catching Prawns for Bait – 3 Different Ways (UPDATED)

How Do You Catch Prawns for Bait? A Full Guide

With the increasing price of prawns in many local fish shops, smart anglers are taking the opportunity to catch their supply of fresh prawns. Prawning has turned out to be a popular activity, especially during the summer months, along with carp fishing.

It is common to see crowds of enthusiastic prawn hunters lining estuary flats at night looking to catch their prize.

Generally, prawns are the most preferred bait by fishermen, not to mention that they make a sumptuous meal enjoyed by families in the UK.

However, catching prawns can be a confusing task, especially for beginner fishermen with no idea of where to start. From choosing the right prawning gear and the appropriate time to fish to the best techniques to use, it takes a lot of skill and planning to have a successful prawning expedition.

But do not worry, we have prepared a comprehensive guide touching on all that is required when catching prawns for bait. Keep on reading to find out more!

What is the Best Time to Prawn?

Once you’ve made up your mind to go prawn fishing, the first step is to establish the appropriate time to go for the adventure. You need to have knowledge of the perfect conditions for prawning, and this will depend on a variety of factors.

Generally speaking, the ideal time frame for prawning is in the months spanning November to March.

Three major factors should concern you when it comes to successful prawning. These include time, tide, and the moon. While the prawning season is generally considered to be between November and March, it is during the summer months that a large chunk of the catch is made.

Depending on how good the weather conditions are, the prawn run period may be extended. It is during the productive months that prawns converge into schools and start moving through river mouths and lakes to either spawn or migrate on the run-out tide.

If you are an amateur prawner, this is the time to hit the jackpot! The “dark” period on prawn fishing refers to the phase of the moon that comes after the full moon.

At this point, the moon is waning, resulting in darker nights and bigger tides range, which continues until a “new moon” comes along. Normally, experienced anglers will start fishing about four to five months past the full moon.

Does Weather Affect Prawn Fishing?

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When it comes to weather, the effect on prawning conditions is relatively negligible. Whether it’s rainy, windy, hot, or cold, fishermen can achieve the same amount of success regardless of the conditions.

The main takeaway from the weather as far as prawn fishing is concerned is that prawns tend to get more active with increasing temperatures. This is to say that during the warmer months, you’ll have higher chances of encountering prawns given that they are more mobile around the lake.

Wind is another factor that influences the way prawns behave. When it is very windy outside, leading to choppy water, it can significantly affect visibility through the water.

Also, prawns will dive deeper in such conditions, so it gets harder to catch them during this time, especially if you’re using a net. However, when the wind is relatively gentle and you can easily see through the water, just follow the wind to the bank it’s blowing towards and that is where the prawns will be. Prawns typically run away from the blowing wind.

What Time of the Day is Best for Prawning?

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The best time to go fishing for prawns is at night. This is when you’ll have a higher chance of catching them. Keep in mind that prawns are largely nocturnal creatures and prefer to be more active at night, more so nights that come after the full moon when it’s pitch dark.

In this case, you want to bring along a flashlight alongside any other prawn fishing gear you’ll be carrying.

What is the Ideal Depth to Fish for Prawns?

The good thing about prawns is that they like to hang around the warmer and more shallow areas of a coastal lake. So, you don’t have to worry about casting your net too deep to get to them. Typically, this is where a young prawn will start its life and where it grows until eventually moving out to the sea when it is fully mature.

What Techniques Can You Use to Catch Prawns?

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There are various methods of fishing prawns you can use depending on the amount you intend to catch. Generally, the most commonly employed techniques include:

#1 Fishing rods

Using a fishing rod is a nice way to get started with prawn fishing. However, most anglers prefer to use a net or trap because of the larger number of prawns you can catch.

Fishing rods will be ideal when you don’t want to catch too many prawns and when you don’t want to get wet. A prawning pole is not like an ordinary fishing pole; it is notably thinner and more compact since prawns are a smaller catch.

#2 Nets

Generally, nets are the most common prawn catching technique, especially for areas where the water is shallow. You can use a handheld net, drop net, or dragnet to fish multiple prawns in an instance.

On the bright side, this technique allows you to get closer to the prawns and increases your chances of success. Not to mention that it is more adventurous and fun!

#3 Traps

Traps are used when the water you plan to fish in is so deep that using a net would not be practical. However, it can be very confusing when looking for a prawn trap on the market. This is since many people have a problem distinguishing between prawns and shrimps.

It doesn’t help that the traps are sold alongside each other. Nevertheless, shrimp traps tend to work just fine when used for trapping prawns. They are generally similar in shape, size, and structure.

Can You Fish for Prawns from a Boat?

It is usually recommended to move across the estuary you choose to fish on and ensure that both ropes on the net are set out straight. It enables you to scoop the haul freely both from the stern and the bow.

Experienced prawn catchers usually anchor their boats earlier in the day even before the fishing run begins. The best place to anchor your boat during prawn fishing is near the shoreline over weed beds. This is where prawns tend to hide under.

Ultimately, the position you choose should be where the tide moves briskly to ensure prawns don’t back away, rather come to you. When the tide is slow, the prawns will see the light and dodge the fisherman’s net more easily. Fishing for prawns from a boat will be more suitable when the prawns aren’t on the run. In this case, the boat is steered slowly into the tide and a net with long handles is used on either side of the boat.

The prawns are caught as they rush headlong into the net, although you’ll catch a smaller haul this way. When it comes to a fishing light, pressure lamps may not be adequate for these conditions. Instead, you should go for hand-held flashlights and position them ahead of the net’s opening.

What is the Best Prawn Bait?

There is no hard-fast rule as far as choosing the ideal prawn bait to use on your prawn trap or fishing trap is concerned. Some anglers suggest that the remains of a fresh filleted fish work pretty fine while others swear by fish bait pellets bought from the local fishing shop.

These are then dipped inside smelly fish oil to make for the perfect prawn bait. The thing is, anything with a fishy smell or an outright stinky odour will do! If you can afford specially made prawn bait pellets, your success rate is will significantly be increased.

Alternatively, you can use a combination of bait pellets and fish-smelling items such as sardines to enhance the range of smell and lure more prawns into your snare. The key to remember when selecting the ideal prawn bait is to find something with plenty of smelly oil and one that is the most convenient to you. This may mean store-bought pellets dipped in fish oil or shredded salmon that you just caught.

What Prawn Species Can You Catch?

There various prawn fishes in the water, and the Eastern King Prawn is one of the biggest you can catch. It can grow to a length of 30cm and its colour may vary depending on the kind of sea bottom it lives in, as well as other factors.

Generally, the colour is usually a light brown to reddish shade with yellow tips on the walking and swimming legs while the tail fan has a bright blue edge. The younger prawns in this species feature dark green colour whereas the adults are usually bright red.

This species of prawn is mainly caught in large numbers from coastal lakes. The other type of prawn to catch is the Western King Prawn, which you can identify from its conspicuous blue colouration on the walking legs. The species can grow to 28cm and is caught by trawlers in large commercial quantities.

Additionally, the Brown Tiger Prawn is the largest prawn species in the world. It gets its name from the brown traverse stripes that run across its carapace and abdomen. The prawn can grow to over 30cm and is highly sought-after by fishermen. Finally, we also have the banana/white prawn, which is named after the colours on its tail. The tail features green, yellow, and brown shades, which make it resemble the hand of bananas.

Meanwhile the body colour is cream to yellow and sometimes speckled, with a length of around 25cm. This prawn species is usually caught after the wet season from March to June.

Conclusion

So, if you’re tired of spending a fortune at the local fishing shops to buy prawns, it’s a high time you start catching your own prawn. Fortunately, it is not rocket science, and the guide above tells you all need to know when catching prawns for bait.

FAQ

What is the Best Bait for Catching Prawn?

The best prawn bait involves a combination of commercial pellets and fish oil, including some type of fish cat food, canned oily fishes like sardines, herring, and mackerel, as well as fish carcasses. Ideally, the bait should be smelly enough to easily attract the prawns.

What is the Best Time to Catch Prawns?

It is recommended that you catch prawns at night as this is the time when they are the most active. Prawns are nocturnal creatures hence prefer to avoid the light. Furthermore, the best prawning period is during the outgoing tide. The fast movement of the water tends to pull the prawns out of marshy areas to open water so that it is easier for fishermen to access them.

Do Prawns Make Good Bait?

Prawns can be a very effective bait for a variety of fish species, including dogfish, coalfish, flounder, wrasse, dab, whiting, etc. You can also use prawns to bait larger fish species like bass and cod. Overall, both live prawns and prepared prawns make viable sea fishing baits.

How Do You Catch Prawns?

The best way to catch prawns is to check around jetty pylons, riverbanks, and boat ramps when it is starting to get darker in the evening. Use a flashlight to shine into the water. You’ll see bright red eyes coming to the surface and this is the time when you use a fine mesh net to scoop the prawn as fast as possible.

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