Time for leatherjackets
  |  First Published: May 2003

Now that we are getting closer to Winter, you should start to get your gear ready to chase a feed of delicious leatherjackets.

Many anglers reckon leatherjackets are kids’ fish. They tell me about the ease with which they used to catch leatherjackets when they were young but, as they get older, it gets harder to catch leatherjackets.

This is so far from the truth it’s laughable. Maybe it is just because they are now targeting other fish like kingfish, mulloway, tuna and snapper and are not concentrating on leatherjackets and the special techniques used to produce good catches.

Walter from the Sea Bees Fishing Club attended one of our fishing classes and is now able to take his wife and kids fishing for leatherjackets. Walter targets them at places like The Drums in the middle of Botany Bay, the Port Botany retaining wall near the gas storage tanks, Molineaux Point and the end of the third runway. Walter and his family have notched up catches of six-spined, yellow-finned, Chinaman and fan-belly leatherjackets.

The rig is very simple. All you need to do is tie up a paternoster rig with a No 6 ball sinker or a small snapper lead on the bottom. On the two dropper loops tie two No 8 Mustad long-shank hooks. No swivel is needed.

When fishing in the estuaries for leatherjackets, the bait can be either a very small piece of peeled prawn or fresh squid. Lower the rig down to the bottom and then raise it just off the bottom so that the tip of the rod takes the weight.

All you need to do is then wait for the rod tip to move downwards, then strike in an upwards motion. Once the fish has been hooked, you will need to keep a steady, even pressure on the fish all the way to the net. If you are fishing on the reefs off Sydney for jackets, you won’t have to peel your prawns and the squid should be in strips, not pieces.

Other places that are worth a try around Sydney are any of the public wharves, such as the one at Luna Park. Or you could try the Wedding Cake markers, Middle Head, the Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour, the Ballast Heap in Port Hacking or the Coalcliff rock platform, just to name a few.

To get the best results you will need to have a consistent berley trail going. Use prawn shells and heads and chop them into very small pieces. Remember, the success to using berley is to have your berley smaller than your bait so that the fish are attracted to the area. The idea is to get them hungry enough to find and eat your baits, not feed them up on the berley.

Now for places to try soft plastics this month.

Land-based: On the northern approach of the Silverwater bridge at Ermington there is a small park nearby. You can park your car near here and take a five-minute walk over to the bridge. When casting your plastics towards the base of the bridge, make sure the weighted plastic lands in the shadow of the bridge. This is where fish lie in ambush for those passing prawns and crabs.

Boat-based: If you put your boat in at the wharf at the end of Wharf Road, you could start right beside the ramp and work the edge of the mangroves upstream and downstream of the ramp. Try using small Atomics, Mann’s grubs and Squidgy Wrigglers on smaller-sized jig heads.

What’s on

The classes on fishing Sydney waterways are at the following tackle shops: Blue Water at Concord (May 6, phone Chris or Craig, 9744 9077); Chatswood Tackle and Bait (May 12, phone Curly or John, 9417 3988) and Mako Tackle and Bait at Moorebank (June 3, phone Greg on 9600 6999). You can also email me at --e-mail address hidden-- phone me on 0422 994 207. I am also running an on-water and theory class at Hunts Marine with Scott Lyons from Southern Sydney Fishing Tours. The next theory night will be held on May 5 and the practical days will be decided after that.



Believe it or not fantail leatherjackets are very good fighters on light line.


At the time of writing the chinaman leatherjackets are in plague proportion on a lot on the offshore reef, particularly at the Plonk Hole.

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