Ball sinker down onto the bait

Drifting for flathead while using either a half plichard or strip of tuna with a small ball for weight is perfect
Gary Brown
I have found that over the years that this particular rig would have to be one of the least that has been used when it comes to bait fishing, which I find very strange. The ball sinker that slides directly down onto the top of the bait would have to be one of the most effective rigs that I use off the shore, the rocks and out of a boat.

It doesn’t matter whether I am fishing out of a boat in shallow (50cm) for bream, trevally, flathead and whiting or deep water (50 metres) for snapper, trevally or mulloway and off the shore, the rocks or the beach I have found that this simple rig is extremely effective. The main thing that I have found to getting it right is that you need to get a combination of a number of things correct to make it work.

For instance, if I was targeting bream or trevally off the rocks I would need to take into consideration the following: the type of bait I am using, the outfit I am using, the wind conditions, what’s the swell and white water conditions like, what type of bottom I am fishing over and how far I may have to cast. You get all this right and you will catch fish.

I will give you a couple of examples to help explain what I mean in getting the combination correct.

Ball sinker down onto the top of the bait
Gary Brown

Example 1.

On the south coast of NSW there is a place called Stinky. It is a rock platform that is on the southern end of Racecourse Beach which is an exposed rocky point that has a number of gutters, both shallow and deep. What I have found over the years of fishing this point is that some of the gutters will only produce fish near the bottom of the tide when the cunje and barnacles only have about 30 to 45cm of water over them. There needs to be a bit of white water, but not too much and the wind needs to be coming from the north or west. Not from an easterly or southerly direction as the bait will be continually wash into the rocks at your feet.

Alvey reels, 3.6 metre rods and the ball sinker down onto the bait was the undoing of this bream, silver trevally and tailor
Gary Brown

The outfit that I will be using will be 3.6 metres in length and the reel will be spooled with no more than six kilo line. The preferred baits would be peeled prawns, strips of mullet, pillie tails, cunje, bread and pink nippers. All of which are not a heavy bait.

The hooks that I would be using will be 1/0 to 2/0 Owner circle hooks and the ball sinker would range from a 000 to a number 2. This combination of condition, bait and terminal tackle would eliminate most of the times that you would get snagged on the cunje or barnacles as it would tend to float around with the wash. Now if you feel that you may be getting a snag all you need to do is slowly lift the rod tip while at the same time retrieve a bit of line.

Ball or Bean sinker down onto the bait
Gary Brown

Example 2.

Try anchoring your boat in water from about three to eight metres in depth. Once you have anchored up you will need to lay out a small, but steady stream of berley. This could be a combination of chicken pellets, bread and mashed up pilchards.

Then it is a matter of baiting up and casting out your first rig about ten metres and then set the rod in the rod holder. If you have got the combination of the hook size, bait and sinker correct you will find that this rig will either work its way to an angle of about 45 degrees from the water’s surface or it very slowly sink down towards the bottom and hopefully get taken on the way down.

With the other outfit you will just need to drop the bait over the back of the boat and slowly feed it out with the current. To do this you will need to have your drag set in fighting mode and have the bail arm folded over or you may own a bait feeder reel.

Snapper respond to a well presented bait that only has enough sinker weight to have it slowly sink through the berley trail
Gary Brown

Now when you are feeding the line out and you find that you can’t keep up with the bait that you are feeding out the back of the boat you will also need to increase your sinker size. The same will have to happen with the first rig that you have cast out if it is floating up near the top you will need to up size your sinker. You will find that if you are fishing at one spot for a while (say 4 hours) you will need to change your sinker size as the current increases and decreases.

Aaron and the girls had a great time catching trevally using peeled prawns on a no 1 circle hook
Gary Brown

Bait Tip.

How many times have you gone out for a fish and had half a packet of prawns left, only to throw them into the water. I never throw any prawns back into the water, that is unless they have a hook in it or they are been chopped up and used for either leatherjacket baits or berley. All my left over prawns are re-frozen.

Depending on the type of prawn, some of them don’t refreeze well, but I have found that the Hawkesbury and Clarence River prawns will refreeze the best and it would be a good idea to take off the heads before refreezing. This will stop the prawns from going black.