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Just get smarter
  |  First Published: September 2008



When frustrated anglers who think that there are no fish in southern Sydney waterways ask me where they can go to catch fish, I usually reply with a question of my own.

“What species are you going to target?” I say and most of the time the answer will be something like, “It doesn’t matter as long as it is a fish”. If you find saying the same sort of thing, don’t despair, don’t get frustrated – just get smarter.

There are a number of things that will improve your fishing.

• Know your targeted species.

If the fish you are going to chase is a bream and you have never caught them before, it would be advisable to put in a number of hours researching 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.

It would even pay to go and visit the Sydney Aquarium and watch the fish at feeding time. From watching the fish be fed you can learn things like how they actually swallow the bait.

• Choose the type of terrain you are going to fish.

Decide whether you are going to fish off the beach, the rocks, from the estuary shore or from a boat – each of these areas has its own particular characteristics and some of these will be favoured by your cosen quarry.

For example, an estuary may have vast sand flats, deep holes, rock bars, deep channels, structures and breakwalls, all of which may hold the particular species you are targeting.

• Keep records.

They say that 90% of the fish are caught by 10% of anglers and it is those anglers who keep some kind of record of their catches. Whether it is just an album full of photos with a few notes on the back or a detailed diary of the days and hours they have spent chasing their preferred fish species, this information is invaluable to anyone who wants to be in that 10%.

• Devise a plan which would have things like your chosen location, time, techniques, time of day or night, tide, moon phase and the like. It also helps to have a back-up ‘Plan B’ in case the weather shuts down your first preference or you strike out badly on your chosen species.

And, yes, there have been a number of mulloway and luderick caught by anglers fishing for other species. I was at Gerroa on the South Coast chasing snapper, only to have a 13.5kg mulloway take a floating half-pilchard on 6kg line. Craig McGill was chasing flathead with plastics for his Sydney DVD and caught three mulloway and no flathead.

• Suss out the correct bait or artificial.

Some anglers insist the only way to catch mulloway or luderick is to have live or absolutely fresh bait.

Over the years I have used many types of bait to catch both these species and I have had very successful estuary luderick trips using green weed that I had frozen a few months before. this green weed was gathered at a time when the weed was plentiful and then used when it was scarce.

• Timing. If you don’t get your timing right for many species you have usually missed the boat.

Fishing the right part of the tide can be critical to your success. For example, if you have a high-tide beach gutter that you are going to fish for yellowfin bream and whiting and you turn up at low tide when there is no water in it, that’s bad timing.

It’s the same as if the timing is out in your car, you will get poor performance, and poor performance means few fish.

• Select and maintain the correct tackle. The main rods, reels, lines and accessories will be extremely different for, say, luderick and mulloway. Gear needs to be kept separate and as with all tackle, it needs to be kept in prime condition and maintained regularly to give you the performance you need.

• Be Patient. Most of all, you need to be patient when chasing your targeted species. For example, if you strike to soon when you see the down of the float when fishing for luderick you most probably will miss the fish and if you don’t strike soon enough when chasing mulloway, you could also miss that fish of a lifetime.

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