I'm very fortunate in being able to fish at least once a week. But because weekends are so busy with visiting customers, I can usually only get out on the water Monday to Friday. Most people are working mid week, so our usual crew is often made up of those who have to work weekends, like me. Students, and keen young blokes who work in tackle stores Saturday and Sunday, are regularly aboard.
Which is how our deepwater fishing craze got started.
I can be pretty selfish at times, and forget how excited the crew can be about an offshore trip. A few years ago we were collectively obsessed about fishing for yellowfin tuna.
We had a lot of success and caught some good ones, here's an example:
And here’s a double hookup from back in the day:
But the real story with tuna fishing off Sydney is that hours or even days can be spent bait fishing, with no result. For me that's okay, because if we don't catch any fish today I'll be back out again next week. But for younger crew members, not turning a reel means disappointment. I finally got the message on a trip where, as we returned to Sydney Heads, some younger crew members turned their phones back on. I overheard one who lived at home with his parents explain that we hadn't caught anything that day so the family should make other arrangements, for dinner. At that point I realised it was time some changes were made, so the crew could bring home fish for their families.
That wasn't a tough call. Because the spot where we fish for tuna – Brown’s Mountain, off Sydney - is also renowned for its huge population of deepwater species. Blue eye cod, bass groper, hapuka and most of all gemfish swarm at Brown’s, particularly during the winter months. You can catch them using regular rods and reels although that's backbreaking work. But because the bag limit is so low – only two gemfish per angler - and because we wanted to catch that bag limit and then turn our attention to other species, electric reels were the only way to go:
After trying many different brands we settled on Daiwa Tanacom reels and have never looked back since:
We start each trip with a deep drop session and, after putting some good ones on deck, move on to other targets – mako fishing, albacore jigging, or tuna cubing. That plan’s worked like a dream:
Let’s talk about the gear we use. A bent butt rod is essential for holding your line out from the boat gunwales. A reliable and powerful electric reel is essential because having gone all the way offshore the last thing you want is gear failure when you have 400 metres of line out. Buying used reels from overseas or unknown brands is a big risk because the extra complexity of electric reels and their digital displays means that, if anything goes wrong, it can be really expensive or even impossible to fix - unless you have a local dealer. Colour change braid is a good backup for the digital line out display because you can track line return as the fish approaches the surface. Our setup is based around the Daiwa Tanacom 750 reel which as you can see from the pics and videos is a reliable but not expensive unit which has proved very successful for us.
Tanacom 750 combo including:
Here’s a video showing this combo bringing up two good gemfish from 400 metres down:
In this one, crew member Jay winds the last few metres by hand to boat a solid blue eye cod:
Here’s the start of retrieving solid fish from down deep. Note we are using one of our small portable batteries to power the reel:
I’ve been using two of these reels for three seasons now, at Browns Mountain, off Sydney. We’ve pulled up some big blue-eye cod and gemfish and the reels have never let me down.
A really big benefit is the jig function. Gemfish swarm in their millions out there from May to October but the bag limit is only two per angler. That’s fair because last year the fish averaged around 10 kilos each. But because there are so many you can often bag out, in an hour. At that point we usually switch to other targets: mako sharks, yellowfin tuna and albacore, which at times really swarm, at Browns. The joy of the Tanacom 750 is that after you’ve used it to boat some nice blue-eye cod or gemfish you can swap the bait hooks for a 250 or 400 gram jig and drop that down two or three hundred metres. Leave the rod in the rod holder, hit the jig button, and the jig will work its way up through the water column passing through the albacore band. The albacore band is somewhat hard to describe but is basically a line of dots or slashes that show up on your sounder screen when the gain is cranked up. Usually 200-250 metres down. The jig option is fully presettable for speed, just use the instructions in the very well written manual supplied.
One last thing to mention? A big benefit of the Tanacom 750 is that even without the power operation this makes a pretty good rod and reel. Star drag yes, but a good one and it does match the bent butt rod perfectly. So it doesn’t only have to be used for deep dropping, trolling is an option too. Here’s feedback from clients pleased with their Tanacom combos:
Ian Williamson fishing the Shelf off Eden:
Hi Andrew, just to let you know the Tanacom reel and rod works great.
Caught lots of deep sea perch at 400m and my first Ghost Cod at 550m.
Matt Cassar finds success out wide:
Hi Andrew me and my brother went to Browns on Saturday for a deep drop with amazing results. 2 big gemfish on the first drop and a few bite offs due to the makos. We had fish on as soon as we hit bottom, we got our 2 fish each and went home.
More time driving than fishing!
Its the first time we used your electric reel combo and I am super keen to get out there to do it again. Thanks for the reports its good to know when the fish are on so we don't waste fuel going out for nothing
In Victoria, Charles scored some nice blue eye cod on a charter and needs his own electric reel combo:
Thanks Andy, I cannot get over just how nice and good that blue eye was to eat. Got them off Portland in 500 metres. I will go with the package…..
I think you’ll be very pleased with it, Charles. We used our Tanacom combo on Tuesday at Brown’s Mountain:
Nothing big boated, but some nice early season gemfish came aboard:
This one paid a shark tax on the way up:
Hoping these details are helpful but if anything further required please call or email,