2017 has been a pretty annoying year for those of us on the east coast who love offshore fishing. So many times we’ve headed down the Harbour with a run out wide planned. Get to the Heads and it’s blowing twice as hard as forecast. Sometimes, we battle our way out there anyway. But that brings a fresh set of challenges, including the possibility someone will get seasick. Finally, we came up with a simple answer which has worked well for us. Here’s the story:
Blackfish are a species available pretty much anywhere on the coastline of south-east Australia. They fight hard and, if bled and chilled down after capture, go very well on the plate. The bait is free and the tackle to catch them is inexpensive. Here’s what we do.
On each trip, we pack our 802 Blue combo, one for each crew member. These long, thin, light outfits fit perfectly in the side pockets of our boat.
If we don’t need the rods that day, a light freshwater spray at the end of the day and they’re ready for use next time. But if we get to the Heads and it’s too lumpy to proceed, here’s the plan that’s delivered for us. We take a bucket and half fill it with wet sand, at the boat ramp. Then down the Harbour, keeping an eye out for mooring buoys with weed growing on them.
Here's Mev scoring some weed from the giant ship buoy near Clark Island:
Scrape some off the buoy and put a quarter of the best stuff aside, for bait. Chop up the rest on the bait board and mix it with the wet sand. Anchor up at a likely spot – of which there are hundreds, because this is such a common species. Usually best to be on the uptide side, of the mark. Steadily deploy the burley. We have never missed out at our favourite spot – Sow & Pigs reef, in lower Sydney Harbour.
After anchoring, check water depth on your sounder. Move your sliding float stopper up or down the line so that your bait will be around a metre off the bottom.
We've been using the Downrigger Shop 802 blackfish combos. $95 for rod reel and line, they come pre rigged with:
"Two assembled 3 kilo Sunline fluorocarbon leaders with size 8 green Sneck hooks
Two floats and sliding line stopper already fitted to 3 kilo colour change braid main line"
So all you need is the weed. We weight the floats correctly for you because there’s nothing more annoying than adding then removing splitshot to get the correct balance when you’re at your spot and raring to go. Mission accomplished, your floats will be perfectly weighted:
Cast the rig out with an underhand lob and let it drift with the tide towards the structure you selected. The bite of the blackfish is gentle but confident. In most cases your float will slide under the water.
Daiwa 802 the perfect rod to soak up the sudden runs:
First blackfish ever for one of our crew:
There are so many around, especially in winter. This one hooked up on the first cast of the day, within ten seconds of the bait hitting the water:
Blackfish are a surprisingly strong fish for their size and always hold a bit of energy in reserve, to play up next to the boat. You will definitely need a landing net although note a small short handled one works fine, off a boat. Put them in a keeper net, or in your livebait tank, until you’ve finished up? When cleaning blackfish, make sure the black membrane on the inside of the gut cavity is scraped off. An old toothbrush or even your knife is okay for this purpose. They taste great so look after them:
I can’t recommend this too highly. As readers know, we love jigging for kingfish, deep dropping for gemfish and blue-eye, and drifting for mako sharks. But when it’s windy that’s not going to happen. I can honestly say that fishing for blackfish is so much fun there’s very little disappointment from a bad weather day. Give it a try? Here’s the link, for more information or ordering. Note that this rod and reel combo is also excellent for squidding:
Thanks for reading and get back to me with any questions whatsoever,