The past couple of very wet years must have produced favourable conditions for luderick, because they are swarming in huge numbers.
There are lots of big fish around and if the clouds of juveniles around the boat ramps are anything to go by, we are in for some abundant years ahead.
Luderick are available all year round, although they slow up a bit in Spring. We tend to chase them in the cooler months, giving the impression that they are a ‘Winter’ fish, but they are in fact abundant right through Summer.
The main reason we don’t chase them then is that there is too much else happening, especially with kings and surface fish.
You can catch luderick right through the system, even in the brackish reaches, but the big fish are found in the lower reaches where there is some amount of ocean influence. The upstream ones tend to be smaller and marginally less palatable.
There has always been a bit of mystery surrounding blackfish fishing.
It has in the past been portrayed as an ‘art’ worthy of only the most accomplished elderly masters – held somewhere up there in the realm of fly-fishing, albeit minus most of the elitism.
The truth is, once you have the tackle sorted out they are among the most abundant, widespread, accessible and easiest of fish to catch.
You don’t need a boat and it is relatively cheap to set up. Any reputation they have of being a poor table fish comes from being left whole and too long in a fish shop window.
Skinned fillets pan-fried after being rolled in beaten egg and flour, they are up there with some of the best from the Harbour.
Luderick are great sport, too; the equal of any bream, and the anticipation factor enhanced by the float surpasses most other forms of fishing.
It is a ‘hands-on’ style of fishing, so if putting the rod in a holder and reading the paper between bites is your preference then luderick are not for you.
The hard bits are: control of the relatively long and complex rigs both in and out of the water, control of the ‘belly’ in the line between rod tip and float so that you maintain as straight a line as possible and, finally, keeping eye contact with the float in poor conditions, when the sun is in your eyes or if you have poor eyesight.
An elderly customer recently told me that he was bringing an equally elderly mate on his next charter with me. I suggested we go for luderick.
He wasn’t sure how that would go, as he explained that his mate’s eyesight wasn’t good any more. No worries, I reassured him, I’ll watch the float for old mate and give him the call when to strike.
Things didn’t go to plan on the day because what he had forgotten to tell me was that his mate was also quite deaf!
There are plenty of good spots in the Harbour, whether you have a boat or not.
• Boat: Sow And Pigs Reef, Middle Head, the Wedding Cakes, Clarke Island and Fairlight Point.
• Shore: Bottle and Glass Point, Clontarf and Balmoral baths, Dobroyd Head around from Reef Beach, The Spit and Grotto Point.
There is some good action on flathead happening now and it should last at least until the end of July.
The flats and drop-offs up the backs of the bays have been producing good flatties on lures, with 4” Berkley Power Minnows on 1/4oz or 3/8oz heads working the best.
As a by-catch there are some nice flounder around, especially off Reef and Washaway beaches.
Flounder can be caught year round but the cooler months seem to be the best, especially for the bigger fish.
They will pick up your average flathead lure and are suckers for whitebait on the drift.
If you want to target them specifically, go down a bit in lure size to something similar to what you might use for bream.
Flounder are like flathead in that they burry in the sand and are ambush hunters, so keep your lure in contact with the bottom.Reads: 1942