In Western Australia, youngsters are lucky to have access to a number of relatively easy to catch species that make a perfect introduction to the thrill of recreational fishing.
The likes of black bream, herring, whiting, flathead and skippy are ideal species for young anglers to target and hone their skills on.
None need super-long casts or complicated tackle, all happily take baits and lures, they all fight well for their size, and even better, they all taste good on the plate.
A simple spinning reel and rod combo will do the job, or you may even be able to start fishing for these species with just a handline, as many kids did in years gone by.
Few fish have captured the imagination of WA kids more than herring, with their aggressive nature and flying leaps when hooked.
Herring will hit just about anything when they are fired up, and a little bit of berley in the water can do the trick. A coastal species found throughout the South-West, simple rigs such as a berley cage and short leader to a single hook, or a casting blob with a metre of leader to a hook, will always catch herring.
Baits like mulie pieces, whitebait and squid will work, or even get adventurous and try breeding your own maggots!
Once you have mastered herring fishing, you may want to try your hand at catching skippy, which are usually bigger, stronger and a little harder to hook.
Skippy are found in most of the same locations, and also like a bit of berley, and will take whole whitebait or a piece of squid.
Once hooked, they used their broad sides to make the angler work hard to pull them in.
Black bream are usually found around jetties and bridges in most of the rivers and estuaries in the southern half of WA and while they can be cautious at times, they will still take river prawns and worms, or are often caught on soft plastic and minnow lures these days.
They grow to a couple of kilos and a big bream on the end of the line will test your skills!
A small running sinker right to the hook will work for bream if you need to get the bait out to the fish, or even an unweighted bait if you can get away with it.
In the North-West, yellowfin bream have similar characteristics to blacks and are often caught in the coastal shallows close to shore.
A common catch for young anglers exploring the shallows around the state are various species of whiting.
Sand and yellowfin whiting are the most commonly encountered species and can be caught in just a few centimetres of water.
Small baits like pieces of mulie or whitebait, or even better squid, will work.
A simple rig with a running sinker to a swivel, and then a short leader to the hook, will work.
Best of all, fresh whiting tastes superb!
If you live in the Perth area, exploring the shallow sands flats of the Swan River in summer is a great way to learn about what lives in the river, and it is also a great way to catch flathead.
Flathead can be within a few metres of the shore, buried in the sand waiting for prey.
Using bait in the Swan can be hard work, due to the blowies, so it is a good chance to try your skill with lures and there are a number that will work, all available from the local tackle shop and they aren’t all expensive.
If you do want to use bait, whole whitebait and river prawns will work, with a running sinker (to keep the bait right on the bottom where the flathead live) and leader to the hook.
Be prepared to spend some time unhooking blowies though!
One good thing about blowies, if you can’t catch anything else they’ll happily oblige! They also play an important ecological role in our rivers, so return them carefully.
Once you have mastered your fishing skills on these “bread and butter” species, you’ll be ready to tackle the bigger fish that also live in WA waters!