Load up for big drummer
  |  First Published: September 2012

Freezing your nether regions off over Winter is finally coming to an end but don’t get all exited by the rising air temperature; in the world of the fish it is still chilly inshore and migration movements are still a while off, so be patient.

Big black drummer, AKA rock blackfish or pigs – are on their way to destroy you so don’t miss out. They want you to feed them a peeled prawn, lump of cunjevoi, cabbage weed or bread ball so they can give you curry.

With a sturdy 3.2m-3.6m 10kg Live Fibre rod and a Daiwa 4500 Phantom with 10kg-12kg line, they will be copping the curry!

Rick Lee fared well with nine rock blackfish from 31cm to a thumping 55cm fish that went 3.5kg straight out of the stirred-up water at South Curl Curl. Peeled prawns in a bread berley did the job.

He hooked the big fella on 7kg line only metres from the rock ledge in the tumultuous suds and almost five minutes seemed like an eternity until the pig hit the surface and was surfed up the ledge.

Rick looked like he’d won a trifecta at the Melbourne Cup.

On an outing to Bluefish Point Daniel Dekel bagged five pigs to 2kg and two luderick of about a kilo, all on salted fresh cunjevoi. He rarely missed a fish during a four-hour session when the bites were sporadic.

Changing tactics by just moving only a few metres can locate fish lurking under a submerged boulder.

Other recent clients have bagged from three to six pigs ranging from 31cm to nearly 50cm.

Regular John Halford recently had a great bag of 10 bream to a kilo, a brown groper of about 4.5kg and a pig of 3.5kg-plus.

He caught a pig and the groper before dark and released the groper. The rest of the fish were caught well into the night in pleasant 0.5m seas.

Have you ever caught a pig on fish bait? At night that can happen at times.

I hooked a demo fish on a pillie and after a battle and a half finally landed a pig that could have nudged 4kg on 5kg Superflex line.

It was not weighed properly and ate a fish bait meant for a bream.


There have been some nice hauls of groper, with numbers rather than whoppers as a rule.

A recent film shoot with Hooked on Tackle World TV host Dave Butfield and son Lachlan, 12, produced three nice fish. There was some typical father-son rivalry, with Dave landing the first fish of about 4.5kg, then Lachlan bagging a nice brown groper of about 6kg. Both were released.

Half an hour later Lachlan caught and released a rather small blue groper of about 5kg. Dave, his cameraman and I found it most amusing watching Lachlan get dragged around by these pugnacious fish.

Red crab baits and a little barnacle berley did the job.

Rick Lee also had a good groper session, catching four 2kg-8kg fish and keeping two for the table.

There also has been a run of square-mouthed luderick. They get that nickname when they’re well over a kilo and their mouths get that shape. Jack Matland caught nine quality fish to about 1.3kg on hair weed at Long Reef. You get wet there but the fishing can be great throughout Winter.


Brendan Spinney and Chris Chatter had a session at Bilgola Beach for a few salmon to 4kg and a tailer of about a kilo.

The fish were elusive so moving around was critical to success. A couple of other fishos with six to eight rods rod set out caught a salmon each and experienced quite a lot of missed fish with lots of crossed lines.

We used IQF pillies because of their firmness when mounted on ganged hooks for a slow retrieve.

Old time buddy Damien Farrell said that while running his metal detector over Dee Why Beach he saw a fisho pull at least four stud whiting to around 40cm on live beach worms.

Another beach worth investigation is Palm Beach around the ‘black rock’ area about a third of the way north from the southern corner, where David Henton caught five whiting to 34cm. We roved over about 300m of beach to find the fish.

Some gutters you could not get a bite out of and the very next held a nice fish or two so it pays to move around.

I suggest you keep on the move, especially when fishing the beaches. Also be prepared to swap your sinker size according to the drift.

On the rocks, your main targets now typically are pigs, groper and luderick. Be prepared for the stud pig that will give you a challenge even on 10kg-12kg tackle.

Don’t forget, if you’re harvesting bait from our local ledges, check out the Saltwater Guide or the Fisheries website for the current bag limit on cunje and crabs. (10 crabs, 20 cunje, where permissible– Ed)

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