As the inshore waters cool, anglers who make the effort can be rewarded with quality luderick or blackfish. Not a species that is regularly encountered by chance, specific targeting is required for consistent results.
Luderick are primarily vegetarian and will eat most weeds found on the rock walls, bankside snags and man-made structures throughout the estuaries. On occasion, they will engulf a yabby, peeled prawn piece or estuarine worm floated within their precinct, however weed is their main food source. Presenting these aquatic weed baits correctly will maximise your chances of catching luderick, however this will require a somewhat difference rig than you use for most other offerings and species.
Cabbage and string weeds are the most common types used for bait, however both purple and black weeds are also worth using. Basically, if it is available in the area you are fishing, then there is a good chance that resident luderick will be eating it.
Presenting these weeds in a natural manner can often be the key to success. Usually, weed baits are drifted under a float, weighted so that it is just above neutral buoyancy. As such, there is little resistance for the luderick to be able to pull the float under the water once the bait is engulfed. This lack of resistance increases the hookup rates, especially for wary or pedantic specimens.
Seasoned luderick anglers can definitely turn the odds in their favour using finesse techniques combined with their wealth of experience. However, newbies to this form of fishing can also score some solid luderick. Specialised tackle includes centrepin reels, slow actioned rods, hand-made floats, floating monofilament (or polymer) lines, fluorocarbon leaders and sneck hooks. You don’t need to possess all the specialised gear to catch luderick, although it can help.
Many are able to score a few on a light spin or sidecast combinations by manually feeding out the line to allow the float to drift with the current. However, once a few blackfish are secured with conventional gear, some fall in love with this form of fishing and soon invest in the specialised outfits. Blackfish specific rods are hard to find these days, however Gary Howard still produces a few between 10’6-12’ at prices ranging from $100-$150. Some even use rods as short as 9ft, especially when fishing under bridges. Most specific blackfish rods have guides very close to the reel seat to prevent line sag. This can limit the flow of line out through the guides, which alters the drift rate of the float and affects bait presentation.
Good places to start looking for blackfish include the oceanic and estuarine rock walls, the canal entrance walls, deeper mangrove-lined channels and basically anywhere that you can locate weed within the estuaries. Checking out an area at low tide and locating a decent weed supply will often mean it is worthwhile fishing that area on a higher tide. Low tide also offers the best time to collect weed in many areas.
Once your rig is ready, you only have to find some weed and try a few spots until you are into your first luderick. These often-striped estuary brawlers give a great account of themselves once hooked and will repeatedly dive to the bottom. However, the slow actioned rod will absorb a lot of the head shakes but you will need to withstand a close quarters tug-of-war to turn the odds in your favour. Luderick can really test your skill due to their often pedantic feeding habits and dogged power but they are a lot of fun to catch and pretty good eating if bled and cleaned quickly after dispatch.Reads: 2031