One More Cast with Steve 'Jonno' Johnson

Ripper nippers: Big bream like the one Jonno is holding can't resist live nippers. Nippers are easy to collect, you just need the right equipment.
Ripper nippers: Big bream like the one Jonno is holding can't resist live nippers. Nippers are easy to collect, you just need the right equipment.

When fishing estuarine environments, there’s no doubt when it comes to using bait, fresh is best. 

Besides live prawns I reckon you can’t go past using live pink nippers to catch bream, luderick, whiting, flounder, flathead and even the odd mulloway in our local rivers and lakes.

If you are going to go pump some saltwater nippers for bait you will need to obtain a fishing licence (unless you are exempted) and remember the legal limit for yabbies is 100.

Now there is not a real lot to pumping nippers and it’s actually a bit of fun for the kids, plus there is the added bonus of a bit of physical exercise while collecting the bait.

The first thing you’ll need is a decent quality bait pump, which you can buy one for around the $60 mark and it’s pretty hard to go past the Alvey range.

Nippers live in the sand in inter-tidal zones.

These are areas such as sand banks which are covered during the rising tide and exposed during the run-out tide. 

They do prefer sand areas, but you find them in mud as well.

They build tunnels in the sand and actually swim around in the water that enters when the tide comes up. 

When it’s low tide you’ll see the holes that leads down the tunnels. 

Sometimes there will be sand around the entrance where they have excavated it.

I reckon the best time to pump nippers is on the run-up tide and target the nipper holes closest to the water line. 

If it’s high tide a good technique is to have a mate with a sieve and pump the sand into it. 

If you’re fishing solo you can put an inflated tyre tube around the sieve and tie a lanyard onto it, that way you can pump the sand directly into there without needing someone to hold it.

Having a sieve is a must to clean your nippers before putting them in a bucket of fresh salt water to get them live for bait. 

A bait aerator is helpful, but if you haven’t got one just make sure you change the water in the bucket on a regular basis.

After you use your bait pump, remember to flush it out by pumping water through and also loosen off the washers by unscrewing the wing nut at the end of the pump.

Some anglers like to remove the nipper when using them as bait, but I don’t like doing this as it affects their natural presentation. 

Bait presentation is important when using nippers, I put them on a hook similar to a prawn. 

Put the hook through the back of the tail and then do a half hitch.

You want the nipper to be able to flick around like they naturally do.

The real trick in presentation of nippers as bait is to use a small sinker, just enough weight to get them down to the spot where the fish are going to be.

When drifting or fishing really shallow water consider fishing the nippers unweighted; big bream find them hard to resist. Small circle or bait holder hooks are the best ones to use when using nippers as bait. 

When fishing shallow locations I use a running sinker straight down onto the hook and when fishing channels/drop-offs use a running sinker down to a swivel, then a couple metres of 3kg fluro carbon trace.

Nippers are great bait because they are natural food that estuarine fish species feed on.

You’ll be surprised how many big fish you will catch on them. 

Remember to fish nippers using as light as possible tackle and sinkers.

Anchored up or on the drift you’ll catch a feed using the humble pink nipper.

On June 3, I will be one of 10 local “stars” taking part in this year’s STARS of Shoalhaven Nowra Dance for Cancer being held at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre. 

Similar to the TV show Dancing with the Stars each star is paired with a professional dance instructor to come up with a dance routine to perform in front of an audience and panel of judges.

It’s all for an important cause, to raise money for cancer research, prevention and patient support. 

All money raised by each contestant goes directly to the NSW Cancer Council and to support my fundraising efforts just go to: