Put a plan together
  |  First Published: January 2010

For most of us (including me) it’s back to work, with weekends, early mornings, late afternoons and night the only times that we can get out on the water.

Sometimes our busy lifestyles get in the way of our fishing time, that’s unless you go fishing as part of your job or second job.

I am in a very lucky position in that I get out on the water more than many other anglers, but every time I still make sure that I have some kind of plan (with back-up plans B and C) in place so that I maximise my time and effort on the water.

If you are new to fishing or you have not been very successful in your outings, try putting together a plan, like I do. I am sure it will improve your success rate.

Know your target fish.

For example, if you have never caught a kingfish, it’s advisable to research your quarry. Know where it lives, its physical features, how and what it is likely to eat and what type of conditions turn it on or off.

You’ll need to find out what local baits your quarry prefers. For example, Sydney kingfish love live or freshly caught squid. If you are having trouble catching squid then you’ll also need to research where and how you go about catching squid.

Port Hacking kingfish will scoff down locally caught pilchards and off Long Reef slimy mackerel seem to be the flavour of the month for XOS kingfish.


Choose the type of terrain you are going to fish. Whether you are going to fish the beach, rocks, offshore or the estuary, each has its particular characteristics.

An estuary system may have vast sand flats where you could chase sand whiting, deep holes where mulloway to hang, rock bars where bream will feed, deep channels where trevally will school up, channel markers or breakwalls where kingfish love to hang. Each of these has its own reasons for holding different fish.

Keep records. They say that 90% of fish are caught by 10% of anglers and many of these keep some kind of record of their catches.

Whether it is just an album full of photos with a few notes or a detailed diary of the days and hours they have spent chasing their preferred fish species, this information is invaluable

You must have a plan. For example are you going to fish off the shore or out of a boat, where are you going to go, how are you going to get there, what time of day or night are you going, on a rising or falling tide, which moon phase are you going to fish?

Are you going to use bait or artificials? Some anglers insist the only way to catch big fish is to use live or fresh bait, while others use only lures. It is up to you.

I prefer to decide before I go whether to take bait or just use lures.

Recently I went out on Botany Bay to target kingfish, tailor and salmon with hard and soft lures. We could have gone over to Watts Reef and caught a few squid but we decided to stick with lures.

It was very tough with soft plastics and small metal lures but then the Lucky Craft 65mm Sammy surface lure came to the rescue.


If you don’t get your timing right, you have usually missed the boat.

Fishing the right part of the tide is often critical to your success. For example, if you have a high-tide gutter on the beach you are going to fish for mulloway and you arrive at low tide when there is no water in it, you’ve lost out.

Select and maintain the correct tackle. Rods, reels, lines and accessories that you use can vary widely for your target species. As with all tackle, it will need to be kept in prime condition and maintained regularly to give you that performance you need.

Finally, be patient. That might mean spending hours around the change of tide waiting for a mulloway bite, or waiting that extra second as the float is pulled under when fishing for luderick.

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