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Go for blackfish
  |  First Published: February 2003



There have been a lot of blackfish caught on squirt worms and nippers in the Shoalhaven River around wharves, rock walls and channels.

The biggest blackfish that I heard of was a 1.3kg fish taken off Greenwell point wharf by a local fisherman. This column I am going to speak to you about how to catch your bait and what tackle to use to chase blackfish on squirt worms and nippers.

To catch your bait you need to have a nipper pump and a bucket. You use the nipper pump to stick into the sand to suck out the sand and the nippers and you need the bucket half-full of water so that to put the nippers into so that they don’t die. You will find nippers on sand islands and river edges that are uncovered at low tide.

Sometimes we get out to the sand islands in my Dads boat or in my friends’ boats but there are numbers of flats where you can wade out on a falling tide. When we go chasing nippers we are only gone for about an hour but sometimes after pumping we go fishing as soon as we catch them. But most of the time we bring them home and go out later when the tide is better, especially after dark.

Squirt worms are harder to catch because they like a bit of mud and are only found in certain places. Squirt worms live in U-shaped burrows and you can see places they are likely to be because of the sandy tubes about 3mm poking from the sand. You pump for them with a nipper pump also but you have to keep them alive in wet towels because they are very soft and delicate.

Most blackfish that are caught on worms and nippers are caught at night or very early in the morning. You need to find some water that’s about two or three metres deep with a mud bottom that the blackfish like to feed on. You also need some tide movement to keep your bait moving along the bottom. Finding the fish may take some time but you find a school it’s usually a bite every bait.

We use a Mustad Bloodworm hook in Size 6 most of the time because you can fish worms and small nippers on the same hook. We fish this on a dropper rig with a small ball sinker on one dropper and the hook on the other. This way the bait drags along the bottom with no sinker on top and the fish like this better.

Tackle is a 2.5- to three-metre threadline outfit with 4kg line. Blackfish bite very gently so you really need to feel for a bite as soon as the bait hits the bottom. Sometimes they can suck the bait off the hook and you don’t even feel a thing.

The best bit is when you hook a good blackfish on light tackle and get a great fight.

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Pumping nippers is great fun for the whole family.

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