Fun down in the pig pen
  |  First Published: August 2006

It’s not until I’m confronted with the chill of Winter that I remember how cold it can get and how much I don’t like it.

There are, however, plenty of daytime options that will keep the wimpy old farts like me happy. My favourite is the rock blackfish (pigs) that frequent the washes of the rocky fringes. They are, or seem to be, more prevalent during the Winter but this may be due to the fact that all the pickers, like toads and butterfish, thin out and give the pigs a chance at your bait.

Fish between 1.5kg and 3kg are being caught from Blackhead to Seal Rocks. Any ocean rock areas that have deep water close by and aren’t affected by sand stirring up as the waves surge in are great places to start.

Bennetts Head, Burgess Beach and Elizabeth Beach, or at least the rocky ends of them, are all regular pig hangouts and spots I’ve fished with success this season. Best bait to my mind is a simple ball of bread torn from the centre of a sliced loaf. The crusts and butts of the loaf are tossed in the berley bucket and the process begins.

In this day and age of conservation I tend to leave the cunjevoi alone, serving a self-imposed no-take on intertidal life – with the exception of the fast-growing cabbage weed and the odd crab. Bread is so effective, simple and mess-free and I guess I’m also too lazy to gather the cunje at low tide at the risk of taking a bath from a cold, spraying shower of ocean wave.

Abalone gut is packet bait and is pretty effective on the rock blackfish but the smell is horrid, especially when it’s wiped on clothing that’s left on the laundry floor. The wife will skin you alive!

For any ABT or bream fishos that wish to hone their skills for big bream, try fishing pigs on bream gear. I had a session the other week using a 1/16oz heavy wire jig with bread moulded over the hook. I ended up with four fish to 2kg and lost just as many.

It is great fun and adds the pace and ferocity of screaming drags and an overwhelming uncertainty of the outcome – well worth doing.


The rig for pigs is simple: All you need is a ball sinker small enough to keep the bait below the surface but big enough for you to keep in touch with your hook. The hooks can range from a No2 Mustad 540 to a 1/0 Mustad 542, depending on the sea conditions, whether you have to lift your fish and the size of the fish you are catching.

I tend to use Fireline of 10lb to 14lb because it is super-sensitive and the no-stretch fight rattles your bones. A rising tide at any time of the day is good.

If the pigs aren’t your style, there have been plenty of big tailor, reportedly up to 3kg with 1.5kg fish pretty common, in the lake and Tuncurry Channel.

Flathead have been prevalent in the Tuncurry Channel and probably there for the baitfish, like the tailor. Locals have been hooking into the tailor with baits and metal slices tossed around the bridge and co-op areas of the channel, while bait fishos have also been catching big tailor at The Step, near Wallis Island.

Leatherjackets in the lake and around the oyster leases have kept the crowd amused and fed, with six-spine and fan-belly jackets gathering to produce some double-digit catches. Squid is by far the best and toughest bait.

There also still seem to be a lot of garfish still hanging around the bottom end of the lake and certainly heaps around the rocks.


The breakwalls have had some tailor and salmon hanging off them and hopefully with a few more downpours, the jew will pay the area another visit.

Beach fishing has been great over the past month if you can find some formation on the sand. One bloke fishing a beach near Seal Rocks caught a few good school jew on pipis while fishing for bream.

The salmon and tailor are still thick on the beaches and the bait schools (pilchards) can draw them away from the surf but, generally, the fishing has been pretty good. Throwing a 65gRaider first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon is a good way to relax. The salmon are up to 3.5kg while the tailor are up to 2kg.

Janies Corner is always worth a look, though with a puff of sou’-easter this beach can get messy. In a strong south-easter Shelley Beach is one spot where the bait gathers and the predators follow.

Offshore reefs have been fishing OK with some good snapper and mixed reef fish. Haydens Reef has held some big tailor and all the headlands have bream stacked up on them. Remember, if you want a copy of Wild River Bass DVD send me an email for details.

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