Week 21: Fishing The Beach
As a fishing destination, Australia is truly the lucky country. With thousands of beaches lining our coastline what better place is there to enjoy the thrill of beach fishing. You can fish the surf at anytime for fun but for those of us wanting to enjoy wetting a line on the beach as well as catching a few fish then there are a few important things to know.
These days checking the weather and beach conditions before heading down to the surf is best done on the Internet. There are some great surf Apps like Hurley Surf Lite to tap into which can provide up to the minute pictures of the sea conditions from many coastal beaches around the country. There are many different weather forecast websites to also help you decide when and where to fish. Wind strength and direction plus the swell size play a huge role in planning your session. If the swell is too big or the onshore wind too strong then you may be wasting your time.
Before heading to the beach you need to consider what tackle you will require and what bait you intend to use to catch your chosen species. For example if I am heading to a beach to catch whiting, bream, dart and flathead then I will need a 6-10 kilo, 9-12 foot rod, a 4000-8000 style reel full of 10 lb braided line. I will need some 8-15 lb fluorocarbon line for a trace, some small star sinkers, ball sinkers, barrel sinkers, and sharp long shank Gamakatsu hooks will be necessary.
Rigs can be a running sinker, paternoster, gang hook, or a small ball sinker attached above the hook. You can use the same style tackle and rig for Tailor and Salmon with the use of a 12-15 lb fluorocarbon trace, a small ball sinker above a full pilchard on 3-4 ganged hooks.
I generally like to use a small ball sinker just above the hook or a running rig with the sinker and swivel 40 cm up from the hook. If there is a strong rip and large swell a star sinker of a size to suit conditions with a dropper up the line will anchor your rig and present your bait well.
Stepping up from this gear and your really targeting one of the beaches biggest predators the Mulloway. Growing to over 80 lb these huge fish scan the gutters feeding on mullet, tailor, salmon and any other marine crustacean or baitfish that gets in their way. A big Mulloway off the beach is a great catch and some anglers spend hours at night trying to hook up to a monster. They are a true trophy species and special tackle is required to land such a powerful fish.
For Mulloway I like a big Shimano 12 foot 10-20 kg outfit like Ian Millers Revolution Range. Matched with a Shimano 14,000 Ultegra XTC reel and you have an outfit able to land just about everything big on the beach. You can use many varied rod and reel combos as long as they can handle a powerful fish, and reels that have a good line capacity. I generally use 50 lb braid and have a long 55 lb trace of 3 metres to help cushion the violent headshakes of a huge fish. This I tie together with a reverse Albright knot.
The running rig is made up of two Gamakatsu 8/0 hooks snelled to the line with about 50 cm to the first heavy-duty swivel. Another 50 cm of line is attached to this swivel then tied off to the trace.
Between the two swivels a third swivel is looped through the mainline and attached to a 30 cm length of lighter 30 lb line with a heavy star sinker tied on the end. The rig cast out, lay's close to the bottom, anchored by the star sinker. When a mulloway hits the live bait or big dead bait it crunches down before moving off. After about a metre the line comes tight and the big Gamakatsu hooks ram home. I am not one to give the fish any slack line. I like the fish to pick up the bait and with a heavy drag, set the hooks immediately.
When it comes to bait, live worms are hard to beat, followed by pipis, prawns, pilchards, mullet, and other flesh baits. If your battling a lot of small fish picking off your worms prawns or pipis then you may need to go for bait that will last longer like a mullet strip, or squid leg.
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