Big, big berley trails and big, big baits and big big fish have been the go for us this winter on our land-based fishing missions.
The life in our local ocean is as prolific as ever. Berley trails full of life and fish in huge numbers right at your feet are the bonus visuals. Snapper have been the main target for the lasts few trips, and some big hungry ones have shown up. The theory that “Elephants eat peanuts” cannot be applied to the fish we have been lucky enough to catch on our latest expeditions. Using half a 3kg kahawai as a bait is a bit daunting at times but when it’s picked and you slowly apply the drag pressure to roll the circle hook into the corner of the fish’s mouth it all becomes real.
Fishing big bait needs a bit of thought. There has to be enough current running to keep them moving. Matching the size of the bait to the amount of water moving is very important. If you find you’re snagging the bottom, go smaller. Never use a sinker or weight. Match the hook size to the size of the bait, 7/0 and 8/0 circle hooks are my go-to. Keeping as little pressure as possible on the line as it drifts through the water column is essential.
Overhead reels if you are able to cast them are perfect, they give you so much control and feel over what you bait is doing, alternatively bait runners with the rear drag completely undone and stripping line off by hand in a slow methodical way; not letting the bait drop too fast and in both options not letting the fish feel any resistances as it pick up the bait greatly improves the hook up rate.
On a recent trip a fish that was well in to the 20lb club vomited a whole crayfish in to the landing net as we retrieved it from the water. Whilst acting quickly to get a few photos and get it released, it spat out some squid. The bait that fish took was the aforementioned “half a 3kg Kahawai.” What a guts! It is the best time of year for these big boys and girls, a search of google earth will provide all the info you need to find some where to have a go at them. Looking for head land or point the jut out in to deeper water is a good sign there will be good current.
Catch and release if you can, a photo last for ever, a dead fish is just a dead fish.
Keep ’em tight.