Try the rocks and beaches
  |  First Published: April 2005

Give the rocks and beaches a go this month and you should have a blast.

I recently had the chance to fish with Alan Perry at Bawley Point and over the weekend we fished off the rocks and the beaches and caught bream, drummer, salmon, gummy sharks, luderick, silver trevally and sand flathead. Here is a run-down on a couple of our successful techniques.

When I am using peeled prawns off the rocks for bream I start with my rod tip about 80° to the water’s surface and then slowly twitch my rod tip downwards while winding in until the tip is about 5° to the water.

This will move your bait at almost a rod length each time. If you have not had a bite, you should repeat the process until you have the bait back at your feet. This slight movent usually gets the bream excited enough to attack your bait and if you do feel a bite you should stop your retrieve, take up any slack line and then strike.


I always believed that anglers who didn’t use berley when bait-fishing were not right in the head. That was until I started to teach other anglers how to fish, when I found that most of people in my classes just didn’t know how, where and when to berley so they didn’t bother with it.

The trick to successful berleying is to have the correct combination of ingredients, make sure that the berley is released at a little at a time (not all at once, you want to attract the fish, not feed them) and use the flow or current to your advantage (don’t lead the fish away from where you are fishing).

Over the years I have used many techniques to attract a variety of fish to where I am fishing. It doesn’t matter whether you are working a gutter, sand spit or rip, using berley will attract fish to where your baits are.

Some of the ingredients in my berley to attract the particular fish species include: Bread, chicken layer pellets, dog or cat food (larger pellets), pilchards, prawn heads and shells, fish frames, wheat, breadcrumbs, tuna oil and bran.

Remember that when fishing off the beach, darker blue or green water usually means deeper water. This is a useful tip when the sea is up a bit and there is a lot of whitewater about. On the other hand, if you come across a brown or black mass off the beach it could denote reef or boulders. If it moves slowly it could be a pile of weed or bait fish.

When catching salmon, tailor, trevally and dart off the beach I will always cut the fish’s throat and bleed it, then bury it head-first into the sand. This will allow the blood to drain out of the fish and keep the fish cooler until you are ready to clean it. On a making tide you will need to place the fish higher up the beach so the incoming waves don’t cover it. If you’re moving along the beach you might also trace a conspicuous mark in the sand so that you can relocate each fish on your way back.

Whether you are fishing off the beach or the rocks, you must be able to cast properly. Keep your hands on the rod at least shoulder-width apart to provide good casting leverage and have your feet spread about the same distance with your front foot pointing towards your target and you might surprise yourself how far you can cast.

I hadn’t targeted gummy sharks before but had read that these and other large fish make use of deep water to seek out new feeding areas. These sharks know how to make full use of rips and eddies so you need to target those outgoing rips. Cast out as far as you can into the rip and let the current take the bait out with it. I have been able to let out 80 to 100 metres of line and I can’t cast that far in a pink fit.

To find drummer you need to look for rock ledges that will hold their food and wave action needed to dislodge it. I direct my cast somewhere near the back or an edge of the whitewater and allow a couple of seconds for it to sink. I hold the rod about 45° to keep me in touch with the bait at all times and allow me to feel the bite. It will also give me enough back distance to strike when the fish has taken the bait. I slowly wind the bait back so that it keeps off the snaggy bottom.


Autumn is a good time to target silver trevally off the rocks and they respond well to a bread berley trail because they tend to stay a bit wider off the rocks. Try a medium-sized peeled prawn bait and cast into an area that has a deep drop-off and not a lot of cabbage and weed. Most of the fish will be about a kilo. I like a 00 ball sinker right down to a No 1 to 1/0 hook.

Silver trevally can at times be a bit tricky to hook, as they will pick up the lightly weighted bait and continue moving through the berley trail. If you haven’t felt a bite or a slight pull and you haven’t being snagged, slowly wind in the line. Once you feel a bit of weight, strike because the fish has most probably swum towards you.

Autumn sees the arrival of salmon, tailor and bream. Best baits are pilchard tails, strips of bonito, striped tuna, tailor and mullet. For luderick and drummer try peeled prawns, cunje, bread or abalone gut.

Not far from the spot on the Kurnell Peninsula where Captain Cook landed on Australian soil there is a small beach with some pretty rough reef nearby. If you can manage a cast of 25 to 30 metres your bait will be in some prime wash.

Best baits are peeled prawns, mullet strips, cunje, tuna strips, abalone gut, pilchards and garfish. Fish as light as possible and concentrate your efforts about two hours either side of the top of the tide, with early morning, late afternoon or overcast days best. If you are interested in my fishing classes email me or call 0422 994 207.


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