Like a box of chocolate
  |  First Published: March 2016

Fishing is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to catch! When you are fishing for popular sportfish such as barramundi, flathead and even tuna you can catch a range of fish you weren’t even targeting, sometimes trophy or rarely seen fish.

Take a trip Dad and I took to the river for example. We invited a friend Greg Livingstone and went out to drop vibes and soft plastics into a deep hole, about 25-30ft. After catching a few trophy-sized threadies, Livo cast out a 20g Storm soft vibe and was cranking it back to the boat when it became caught in a strong current. Next thing he knew line was sizzling off of his reel and he was struggling to control this mystery fish. Dad and I bet it was either a big threadfin

or a barra, but after 30 minutes an unusual catch emerged – a 15kg giant trevally.

Now that’s strange! Only a couple of weeks later the same thing happened to Brett Marsh when he landed his first large fish on a lure – another GT in the river, but this time it was 90lb of fish. The GT ate a large scented soft plastic. It chewed the lure in half, which is clear evidence of the fish’s power.

Another strange fish caught on a vibe while barra and threadie fishing was a 6-7kg blubber-lip bream that Dad caught in the heat of the day when the threadies went off the bite but were still showing up on the sounder. Pound-for-pound the blubber-lip could pull a salmon backwards and it was a solid fish to hold, very muscular and powerful. We released it quickly after a photo and let it live to fight another day.

Tuna schools are a natural berley system. Schools of bait are smashed by hungry tuna at high speeds, leaving pieces of half chewed up baitfish and stunned or injured baitfish that slowly sink to the bottom, attracting all kinds of hungry predators such as golden trevally, diamond trevally, large reef cod and even barracuda that feast on a virtual living chum dispenser. Cast a large soft plastic, micro jig or even a heavy vibe into a tuna school and let it sink to the bottom before working it back up. However don’t assume you will hook up to a fish on every cast, it could take several casts and different retrieve styles before you finally hook something. If you don’t happen to have any other lures apart from tuna spoons or slugs, they will still do the trick, especially if big Spaniards are hanging beneath the tuna.

These are some of the more exciting examples of rare by-catch, but more often than not small and rather distasteful species will end up on your lure or bait. This includes small cod, bream, flathead and other bottom dwellers, which often become pests when fishing for prize species like barra and mulloway in the estuary system. If you are chasing longtail tuna or even black marlin, frequent catches of mac tuna, school mackerel and of course bonito become all too frequent catches, which can frustrate some anglers. At the end of the day, the variety is what makes fishing interesting and even if you don’t catch your dream fish, just catching something means that the day was worth it.

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