How To: Catch Blackfish

The motivation for today’s great afternoon sesh was a magazine story I’ve been asked to do, on how fishing can help the family budget. That’s something that’s rarely talked about and in many cases is unattainable anyway, but the request came from an editor who is sick and tired of seeing the Coles ads. ‘’Feed your family for under $10’:

Feed your family for under $10 with Blackfish

Sounds great in theory, but the more you learn about Basa catfish from Vietnam, the less appealing the reality becomes.

So the idea was feed your family for under $10 - but with prime Australian fresh fish.

Not defrosted Mekong sewer muffins.

First of all, the kit. I make no apologies at all for mentioning our tackle in this story. We have got just the thing for this caper and with a couple of mods at the business end it was not only easy to use, the results were fantastic too.

The Downrigger Shop light spinning combo deal

Our size 3000 reel has ten ball bearings making it super smooth plus a decent sized handle and of course, carbontex drags. It is an absolute ripper, one of the items we get tons of positive feedback about. The intent was to keep the expense as low as possible so the rig was super simple. Knowing the wind would be on our back and knowing water depth was 3 metres meant I could dispense with a float. I used a fly fishing strike indicator straight through to 4-pound fluorocarbon and a size 12 ringed Sneck.

Using fly fishing strike indicators is more effective than a float for Luderick

Normally difficult to cast, but since we were on a wharf with the wind on our back, a piece of cake.

Next job was bait gathering with first stop, the Spit. Plenty of weed there but chewed down to the roots. I guess the blackies had been getting into it on the big tides lately.

Andy with weed that has been hit hard by Blackfish on the rocks

Not apportioning blame by any means but the amount of tangled fishing line down there was pretty outrageous. I picked up at least ten different sets in just a few minutes, including braid, hooks, sinkers, even SPs:

Fisherman's rubbish left on the rocks at a prime Blackfish location

With weed at the Spit hard to find, a panicked call was put in to blackfish expert Steve the Roosterman, who directed me to Mona Vale pool. My eyes filled with tears of gratitude as they beheld the fairest sight of all: long strings of ribbon weed growing in pools where you didn’t even need to get your feet wet.

Mona Vale pool is a great place to get weed for Blackfish bait

Off to Taylors Point in Pittwater, selected because there’s a bus stop straight out the front. And the gear you need could be carried on a bus too:

Taylors Point bus stop offers a prime fishing route

Meaning you could undertake this exercise without a car. Several public wharves available in the area. Church Point probably a better spot but this one selected so that we had the prevailing wind on our back. First job was to get the burley going, and with very little current in Pittwater I knew it would take some time to work. In only three metres of water and with the sun behind your shoulder it was possible to see the luderick moving into the burley trail, then drift the bait back down to them. It took some time before things fired up but when it did they were hungry in a big way. First strike was a nice one but then it all came unglued, with a disgusting Doctor parasite on the end of a hook.  These live in the throat of species like luderick and yellowtail:

Catching a Doctor Parasite while hooked on a Luderick

But then a procession of keepers came onto the wharf, all of which were returned after a pic or two:

Blackfish caught from the wharf and netted

This visiting family of Brits were fascinated by the whole affair, and were over the moon when I asked their son to net one for me:

Catching Blackfish off the wharf with onlookers

I reckon we proved a point today. These fish will be here all winter and with the right gear and bait, along with a little patience and common sense – anybody can pretty much be guaranteed of a bag full between now and October. Steve tells me that the Pittwater pro doesn’t target them seriously, unless all other options are exhausted. So, they are not exploited much commercially. Tough little fighters, widely distributed, good on the plate and available all year round. What more can you ask? Give it a try if you haven’t already and let me know how you go,