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Berley - An essential technique when bait fishing (Part II)

by Gary Brown on 28 Jan 2013
Drummer respond well to a berley trail of bread Gary Brown
Continuing on from two weeks ago, Berley - An essential technique when bait fishing Part II will give you the answers to a few more questions you may have when it comes to berleying.

What types of berley should I use for each fish species?

Many anglers will go out for a fish and just use anything that they can get their hands on or what they have either left over in the freezer for berley. Now a lot of the times this will work, but there are times when you have to be more precise in what you are going to use for your berley to get the fish you are targeting to swim up your berley trail.

I use a variety of different ingredients and combinations in my berley to attract the particular fish species that I am targeting on the day. These ingredients can be any of the following items: bread, bread crumbs, chicken layer pellets, dog or cat food (larger pellets), pilchards, prawn heads, fish frames, chopped weed and green cabbage and sand.


For instance if you are after luderick during the winter months in Sydney I find that a mixture of cabbage from the rocks and green weed from the estuary mixed up with sand will do the trick. Then on the other hand when I chase luderick during the winter months in the Shoal Haven River it pays to have a few chopped up squirt worms, pink nippers mixed in with the weed and sand. Not only does it get the luderick on the chew, it also stirs up the odd yellow fin bream.

For silver trevally I have found the best combination that works has been bread and chicken pellets that have been soaked in water for a few minutes. Once the bread and the pellets have been broken up, you then need to grab a half a fist full and squash most of the water out. Leaving you with a ball of berley about half the size of a cricket ball, which you through out into the water about every three to four minutes.

If you are after yellowtail, slimy mackerel or garfish for live bait, you can’t seem to go past mashed up pilchards. It is the oil in this fish that adds to the berley trail making the baitfish bite more readily. On the other hand if you are after a feed of estuary leatherjackets you can’t go by using chopped up prawn heads and shells. Bream, snapper, flathead, tailor, Australian salmon and yellowtail kingfish will respond to a combination of chopped up pilchards, tuna and chicken pellets.

Have a look at this YouTube clip on 'How to berley by Gary Brown'



Do I have to berley differently from a boat than to when I am fishing from the shore?

Whether I am fishing from a boat or the shore I will use a floating rig to chase luderick, and when fishing in the estuaries or bays there are five ingredients that you need in your berley, finely chopped up green weed, sand, water movement, consistency and placement. When fishing from a boat I prefer to have my boat anchored at ninety degrees to the shoreline so that there is no swaying from side to side of the boat. This then allows me to keep direct contact with the float. Once I have started the float on its drift away from the boat I can direct a handful of the berley to land around the float. This will ensure that while the berley sinks it will stay with the float as it moves away from the boat. To keep the luderick in the berley trail you will need to keep up a reasonably steady flow of berley and when you have hooked a fish this is usually a good time to throw another handful. By the way the sand gives the green weed some weight to get it down to where the fish are feeding.



Berleying from the beach

If you missed Part I of this article you can find it here.

Whenever I am fishing off the beach I always have some kind of bait bucket strapped to one side of my waste and the other side will have a berley bucket. They could be a store brought one or a cut out plastic milk container. I tend to use chopped up pilchards and every now and then throw a handful as far out into the surf as I can get. You will find that this type of berleying will attract tailor, bream, and sand whiting, along with other fish species.



Berleying from the rocks.

Luderick are very responsive to berley and the four main ingredients in the berley are finely chopped up green weed or cabbage, water movement, white water and once again timing.

Green weed and cabbage can be found at most places that I fish for luderick off the rocks. It is this growth that you not only use for bait, but you scrape off with the cleats or spikes on the bottom of your shoes. The swell and tide will carry the berley away from the rocks and hopefully bring the luderick into where your float is. Now as for the timing you should scrape some off before you start to get your gear rigged and then every time that you move about on the rocks.


If you are going to target bream off the rocks you could always get yourself a tuna or a bonito and tie it around the tail. The other end is then secured to the rocks where you are fishing. The whole fish is then put into the water and allowed to wash around, causing small piece to break off every now and then. This berley will go out with the tide and current attracting the bream. Another method is to put some fish frames, heads and pilchards into a small meshed bag and also secure it to the rocks where you are fishing. This will also give you a slow release berley into the wash.



Now there you have it, if done correctly berleying is not a waste of time of effort and to my way of thinking you should berley more often, rather than not at all.

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