More about blackfish
  |  First Published: November 2003

WITH SOME warm weather about, now is a good time to think about getting out and chasing some blackfish in the rivers and estuaries.

I used to think fishing for blackfish in the river was boring because all the pensioners in our town do it. But it is fun and once you learn how to catch blackfish, you can have some great feeds of fresh fish.

First thing you need to do is get some green weed. You can buy this from most bait and tackle shops in areas where blackfish are caught, or you can collect your own by finding it in river shallows or local drains and scooping it out with a long stick with a nail in the end.

The weed needs to be a bright green and look juicy and tasty, not dry or wiry. Using the best weed goes a long way to catching estuary blackfish so if you can’t collect the good stuff you’ll have to buy some. It’s normally pretty cheap, anyway. If you do find some good weed it may be worth asking if your local tackle shop wants some to sell so you might be able to make a few bucks while collecting your own bait.

Once you have some weed you will need to work out where to fish. This isn’t hard because most wharves, rock walls and jetties with some deep water, and especially with rocky eddies, are worth a go. If you know where other anglers fish for blackfish, then these places will be worth fishing. Don’t push in or crowd out the locals because most of them get a bit funny about their spots.

Tackle for blackfish using weed is usually a rod around three metres long with a threadline reel and 4kg line. To present the weed bait you need to use a float that runs on the line with a stopper above it to set the depth. Under the float you need a small sinker and a swivel and then a one-metre trace of 3kg line with a No 8 hook. You can add small split shot to the trace so the float sits so that just the top is showing out of the water.

To bait up you take a piece of weed about as thick as a drinking straw and wind it around the hook several times and up the trace a little. Double it back and wind it down around the hook and then half-hitch the trace around it about the hook. Nip it off under the hook so the bait is about 50 mm long and about as thick as a pencil.

Start off by setting the float so that the bait is about two metres below it and adjust it deeper until you start to get ‘downs’ from biting fish or until it snags the bottom. Then raise it a little so you don’t lose your hook, sinker or, worst still, your float. The bait needs to be about a metre above the bottom in most cases.

The technique is to let the float and bait drift with the tide around wharf pylons or along a rocky edge where the blackfish might be hanging. When they eat the bait the float goes under slowly and you give it a few seconds before gently striking and hopefully hooking a blackfish.

It can take years to get really good at this type of fishing but it is worth watching some of the old blokes and asking them questions – you can learn a lot. Some of them are legends at catching blackfish in the river.

Blackfish are very good eating if you bleed them and fillet them while fresh. My Dad skins the fillets and takes the bones out and they taste lush done in breadcrumbs. Not many young anglers fish for blackfish but it can be fun and you will learn a lot by giving it a go.

While they take a bit to learn how to catch, blackfish are great fighters, taste good and, once you have the gear, don’t cost much to chase.

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