Perfect for pelagics
  |  First Published: December 2009

Warm, blue water with densely packed baitfish schools spraying the ocean surface and the occasional ‘boof!’ from a fast predator – yes, it’s pelagic fish time again!

From now on sport anglers’ minds will be tingling with possibilities of a host of fast fish on offer.

Bonito, kingfish, striped tuna and the ubiquitous salmon are synonymous with this time of year and are available to rock and boat anglers.

High-speed spinning with metal lures is a great way to mix it with these fish and the action can often be thick when you score a good day. The presence of baitfish, favourable water colour, temperature and strength of current all play their role when triggering a pelagic fish feeding frenzy.

Lures from 20g to 85g cover most spinning applications, with line classes between 4kg and 15kg all worth using. I prefer to run two outfits, of 5kg and 15kg, to more effectively work lures of varying sizes.

As a rule, if you stick to flashy chrome on sunny days and white lures or other dull-coloured variations when the cloud cover is heavy, you should be on a winner.

Pelagic fish can be notoriously fussy feeders so multiple lure changes of varying weights and lengths may be necessary to entice the first strike.

Basically, you are trying to replicate what they are feeding on so trial and error will usually deduce the desired outcome.

Needless to say, if you can see baitfish breaking the surface and can identify baits like pilchards, garfish or whitebait, you have a big head start on what to tie on to your line.

Retrieve speed and action are elements you can really experiment with, as often one particular style of lure action can mean the difference between a hook-up and just casting practice.

Also consider where you get a hit in the retrieve. Work the lure right through the water column and see where the fish are holding.

If you hook up, chances are that by repeating all these factors you’re more likely to hook up again, rather than mindlessly casting without putting some creativity into your approach.

Slug-Go type soft plastic stickbaits are also another great option to cast, particularly when big garfish are on the predators’ menu.

Salmon, kingfish and bonito all adore this type of plastic, particularly on a fast and jerky stop-start retrieve.

I have been using these lures with jig heads of 5/8oz or more and adding a stinger treble near the tail with a short length of 15kg tied to the eye of the jig head. It has been working famously on kings to 5kg as well as big bonito and the ever-present salmon.

Offshore anglers have been scoring a few kings to 8kg so hopefully we should be in for a good season, for a change.


The Clyde River just keeps on getting better for jewfish with numerous fish being captured on soft plastics by day and on bait at night.

The daytime run of fish recently has been of a smaller class than the previous month’s bonanza but I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at 5kg jewfish on spin tackle.

Night anglers are still loading up on jewies to 14kg with Moruya angler Jake Bowels scoring his first jewie of 12kg on a live yellowtail.

Big bream have been reported hanging around the oyster racks and rocky shallows and will be highly attuned to a surface presentation, with cicadas and other insects typifying the balmy conditions that bream anglers revel in.

Surface-luring a big, coy bream in plain sight is something well worth pursuing if you have never witnessed angling like this before.

Reports of big bass in good concentrations have been encouraging, too, with fish to 45cm taking surface lures, divers and spinnerbaits.

Often the best casts delivered to the best snags on any given stretch of river produce the biggest bass, so when you are confronted with a really fishy-looking snag, make that cast count!

But by far the best way to nail a big bass is to stay on into the night and persist with surface lures. The fish leave the snags and feed over open weed flats and deep holes with no reservations.

It is a unique experience working surface lures on a dead-calm night to then suddenly get a crunching surface strike from a big bass, tuning a serene moment into chaotic, adrenaline-charged chaos as the fish does its best to shake the lure.


Offshore, the marlin run should be in full swing with stripes and blacks on offer as well as the outside chance of tangling with a big blue.

Often the black marlin will be in 40 to 60 fathoms (and at times right in close to the rocks when currents are favourable) and striped marlin will be from 60 fathoms and beyond the continental shelf drop-off.

Generally, blues will be over the shelf with the second drop-off a good area to concentrate on.

We pretty much run a full spread of 24kg outfits at this time of year so lure size is basically up to 20cm pushers, jet heads and Bluewater Squidgies.

A 24kg outfit is perfect for the general run of 100kg striped or black marlin. Fight times will be in the order of 30 minutes to an hour and the fish will usually release well on 24kg.

If you want to run really big lures and target bigger fish you will need to include a couple of 37kg outfits and if a big blue marlin shows up, even 37kg will possibly be left wanting.

Don’t forget to include a good harness because this will drastically reduce fight times and angler fatigue. I have been on the receiving end of a couple of very long fights on marlin when we forgot the harness and it is not something I wish to do again.

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