by Jarrod Day
Land-Based fishing is no easy task. Accessing productive fishing grounds is limited and attracting your targeted species can prove a challenge. Land Based fishing is where many Australians cut their teeth; some may branch off and purchase a boat or kayak while others are content with fishing from the stones, planks or sand.
Rock ledges can be very dangerous. Never turn your back on the sea.
Fishing from the land is no real easy task. In that, many weekend anglers may just flick out a bait and hope for the best while others study locations, weather and tides to catch that fish of a lifetime from the land.
This in itself takes years of developing skill and experience and accessing locations that can be extremely difficult to get too. It is these 'off the track' kind of locations that do produce quality fish from time to time but at the end of the day, any rock fishing no matter where in the country you are is extremely dangerous and special care must be adhered too.
Every year there are plenty of unfortunate deaths around the country due to anglers being swept off the rocks. No matter how experienced you are, taking the necessary precautions is paramount if you are heading to the stones. If there is one high priority item that should be taken with you, it is a life jacket or vest. If you are swept in, knocked out or injured, at least you’re head will be above the water.
Being the most dangerous style of fishing, rock fishing requires a few set rules to be adhered to before venturing to your chosen location. These include fishing in a group of two or more, telling somebody where your fishing and what time you’re likely to be home, wear the correct clothes including a life jacket or vest and foot attire, study the location and research the weather conditions. It is paramount that all these safety steps be completed before and during your next rock fishing visit to prevent an avoidable accident.
Always pay attention to any signs.
The beauty about rock fishing is that it is quite easy to catch something from the rocks. Rock platforms are natural fish attracting devices, thus fish won’t be too far away.
Depending on what species of fish you choose to target there a different levels of berley techniques which can be used.
Basic berleying techniques include the use of an onion bag or some sort of fish netting containing small diameter holes. This can be filled with pilchards or fish scraps, tied off and hung over the edge of the rocks. As each wave crashes upon it, the scraps are broken up and flakes are washed into the sea. If this technique is used, anglers must secure off the bag correctly, otherwise the bag can be washed into the ocean.
Alternative berleying techniques used are dicing up a few blocks of pilchards and tossing a handful or more into the wash at equal intervals. Though this works effectively you’ll often get caught up in casting and rebaiting that you’ll forget to throw in more berley. A constant and steady trail is more likely to attract fish than a broken trail. I am very fond of the berley bag technique because I often forget about berleying and focus more on the fishing. Still if you want to simplify the technique even more, you can also hang a small tuna or salmon carcass over the rock face. This can be tied with a rope around the tail to it breaks up in the crashing waves. The carcass will expel the oils and break into smaller particles creating a steady trail providing it is tied off securely.
There are many ways to berley from the rocks.
Lans based seven gill sharks can be a real challenge.
There are many different techniques used when fishing from the rocks and each technique tends to be associated around the species being targeted.
In Victoria, salmon, kingfish, whiting, snapper and calamari are the most popular and each has its own specific techniques required to be caught successfully.
Gummy sharks are highly prized.
Targeting salmon from the rocks is a challenge in itself. Firstly you need to access locations where the fish will regularly patrol and most of the time it is during the cooler months.
The basic setup to fish for salmon tends to be with the use of a surf rod. A surf rod with its length advantage enables anglers to cast a bait further then if using a much smaller rod and also allows the fishing line to be high than the wash preventing it and the rig from being washed in towards the rocks and or reef.
While salmon do have a rather small mouth, hooks in a Bait holder pattern of a size 1/0 work extremely well. A small half pilchard or whole blue bait can easily be threaded onto the hook.
The ideal rig is a paternoster with two droppers. This enables anglers to fish two baits on the one rig subsequently catching two fish at the same time.
Once a berley trail is established, baits should be cast into it but still far enough away from the wash and the rocks so not to become snagged or busted off.
Salmon are a common catch.
Targeting kingfish from the rocks is a lot more challenging and in fact, one of the most difficult of Victorian species to catch. Firstly you need the right location and there are plenty along the Phillip Island and Bass coastline. Though special care must be taken at all of the accessible locations, they are best fished throughout the warmer months.
Targeting kingfish is best undertaken with the use of a surf rod to aid in the length factor in casting baits out. Live baiting is one of the preferred and most successful methods. Live baits such as Yellow Tail, salmon and calamari are the three better baits to use. If your lucky enough to be able to gather live baits at your location your doing well but most of the time you will have to transport them in. a small bucket with aerator can do the job but you will only be able to keep a small amount of livies alive. In this cast, you’ll want to maximise their life when on the hook so ensure you up to speed with bridle rigging techniques.
One of the simplest rigs to use for kings off the ricks is a bobby cork float running between a swivel and hook on a meter length of 80lb trace. This rig can be cast easily enough keeping your baits out from the rocks. Alternatively, you can balloon live baits out but you’ll want to get the tide and wind direction in your favour to do so.
Quality baits such as live yakka's work a treat for a wide variety of species, including kingfish.
Next week we will look at Part 2 so stay tuned.