Australia is fortunate in possessing
some of the finest beaches in the world, and with them, excellent
fishing. The ever changing formation of our beaches due to natural
forces provides both shelter and food for a variety of fish. By
learning to "read a beach, you can locate all the popular angling
species such as Tailor, Salmon, Flathead, Mulloway, Trevally, Dart,
Bream and Whiting.
As in all fishing, the correct rod
and reel combination will dictate the degree of your success. The
golden rule is to fish as lightly as possible. The lightest line,
sinker, and rod/reel as the conditions dictate. Try not to anchor
your bait to the bottom with a big sinker. A bait that is moving
with the surge of the wave and tide action helps find a lot more
A beach rod must have an action that
lets you cast a heavy sinker or lure if the conditions demand it.
by the same token the action in the tip section should be light
enough to cast lightly weighted baits, and to "feel" the
bite. The tip action will also enable you to hook and play a fish
without placing too much pressure on the line. The range of Aussie
made Snyder Glas rods is made with these very features.
The rod can be made of either hollow
fibreglass or carbon composite and must be from 3.5 to 4 metres
long and preferably one piece. (New glass to glass ferrules have
improved the action of two piece rods) For an Alvey reel the design
of the rod is all important. The reel should sit about 20 cm up
from the butt and the first or stripping runner should be approximately
half way along the rod Any closer will restrict the cast. To bring
the line closer to the finger guiding the line on to the reel, and
Alvey open runner serves the same purpose as an ordinary runner
by controlling the line when fishing, and also prevents the line
cutting your fingers when playing a fish. When you are ready to
cast, simply slip the line out of the open runner. Place it back
in for the retrieve or fighting a fish.
Why are anglers who use an Alvey Reel
more successful? It's not just luck, they are using the right reel
and an Alvey makes all the difference.
If you are casting a bait with a heavy
sinker, spinning with a lure, or more importantly, bait spinning
with little or no lead, the versatility of an Alvey reel can't be
bettered. The fast, direct line recovery lets you keep up with a
fish if it runs towards you and the controlled winding will keep
the line tight. The minimum of moving parts in an Alvey, and their
simple design compared to other reel types, make them almost maintenance
and trouble free, especially with the corrosive wear from sand and
There are a number of advantages in
using as light a line as possible that the conditions allow. You
can cast further, feel a bite a lot better and it is less noticeable
to fish. An excellent line for beach fishing is the Platypus brand
in breaking strains from 4 to 8 kg. The lighter line for Bream,
whiting etc. and the heavier sizes for Tailor and the larger fish
such as Mulloway.
The surface feeding fish that move
into surf gutters such as Tailor and salmon feed mainly on small
baitfish. Baits such as WA and Blue Pilchards, Gar, White and Frogmouth
Pilchards are the best bait for these fish, Strips of fish flesh
can be used in the same manner.
The most efficient way to use these
baits is on a chain or gang of linked hooks. The number and size
of the hooks used depends on the type and size of your bait. For
Gar you can use up to a 5 hook rig in #4/0 or #5/0, WA Pilchards
usually require a 3 hook rig in the same hook sizes. Small White
Pilchards or similar baitfish need smaller hooks, from #3 to #1/0.
You can purchase rigs already made to suit, or make your own. They
are made by using a hook that you can open the eye on (mustad 4200,
7766, 8260 or 3407A. Eagle Claw 6041T). The shank on all the hooks
must be bent upwards slightly. this is to allow the bait to sit
straight on the rig. Hooks with the eyes opened and bent are available
(Mustad 4202, Eagle Claw 6043T). The correct way to bait your rig
is to place it alongside the bait and align the point of the first
hook with eye of the bait. Note the spot on the side of the bait
where the last hook rests. Insert this hook first and continue with
the others in sequence. The first hook should now go through the
bait's eye socket.
The fish that take a fish bait usually
have sharp teeth that can cut through line, so some trace is needed.
Wire traces are not needed and do tend to scare fish. A simple trace
of heavier nylon is all you need. About 1 metre of 15 to 20 kg line
is sufficient. platypus make a special clear trace line that is
excellent for this purpose.
The smaller fish such as whiting, Bream
and Dart, that feed in the shallower surf zone naturally need smaller
hooks. A #3 to #4 for Whiting and Dart, a #1 to #2/0 for Bream,
preferable in a French or Beak pattern which tend to be finer and
sharper. If you want a super sharp hood, use any of the chemically
or laser sharpened models that are now available.
The bait to use for these fish can
vary, pipis and worms can be obtained right on the spot. Bream and
Flathead can't resist a White or Frogmouth Pilchard rigged on a
small gang of hooks.
The most important step when rigging,
is to use 2 swivels (as small a possible) and run the sinker on
a short section of line between them. The top swivel, the one closest
to the rod tip is the major eliminator of line twist.
As the weather changes, so do the beach
formations. A successful surf fisherman knows this and with experience
learns to read the beach and surf conditions and fishes accordingly.
There are high and low tide gutters.
A gutter that produces good fishing on high water can be almost
dry on the low. Conversely, a gutter than can be fished at low tide
can be increasingly difficult to fish as the tide makes. The surf
fisherman must be able to select a likely spot be assessing the
conditions, state of the tide, and the existing structure of the
A surf gutter is formed by an outer
submerged sand bank running parallel to the beach. Variable in length,
the channel in between can have an outlet at one or both of the
ends. Long featureless gutters are not as productive as smaller,
shorter or narrower ones. Holes are formed at the gutter's outlet
to the sea. Waves breaking on the outer bank, spread a layer of
foam and broken water across the inner channel. Referred to by fishermen
as white water, this disturbed water offers cover to fish and stirs
up the bottom exposing food.
The ideal gutter is one that is narrow
enough to allow the angler to cast to the outer bank and bring his
bait back through the deeper water of the channel. This is known
as bait spinning and is best done with a fish bait and as little
lead as possible. A sand spit forming inwards from the outer bank.
This creates pockets in which fish congregate to feed. If you have
to use extra weight to reach these spots, keep it to a minimum.
Fish will often be found where a gutter
empties to the sea. The surge of water in and out, stirs up the
sand and with it food. Position yourself near the mouth and allow
the bait to drift with the run from the gutter. Potholes are the
small indentations which form in the shallower water, often near
the edge of the beach. Anglers often wade through them, not knowing
that they can offer some geed fishing. Whiting, Dart and Flathead
actively feed in this shallow water, so it often pays to try these
areas before disturbing them.
Dawn and dusk are usually considered
the best times to fish the beach, but often good fishing can occur
during the day if the conditions and gutter formation are right.
Fishing at night can be done during moonlight conditions when it
is easier to read the water. Often good gutters can be picked during
the day and returned to at night, when the conditions are more suitable
Now you have equipped yourself with
a balanced rod and reel outfit, and have selected the right spot
to start fishing, how do you go about catching some fish? As mentioned
before, the species of fish you are chasing will dictate the tackle
and bait to use and where to cast.
Fishing for Tailor needs a long cast
to the white water breaking into a gutter. As the bait lands and
you turn your reel around to the retrieve position, give the bait
a short, sharp flick to make it break the surface before it sinks.
This often attracts feeding fish and provokes a strike. Keep the
line tight with a slow and steady retrieve, occasionally lifting
the rod to impart an action to the bait. When a fish hits, you will
feel distinct bite. Sometimes the fish will take the bait and move
toward you. A sudden slackening of line will be the sign of this
happening. In this case, lean back on the rod to increase the retrieve
rate to set the hook. Keep the rod high to take the weight of the
fish, but always be ready to let the fish take line if it decides
to make a dash seaward.
Fishing for other species on the shallower
water of pot holes and gutters requires the same slow rewind to
keep the line tight.
The use of the lure to catch fish on
the beach is an exciting method. Tailor, Salmon, Flathead and even
the occasional Dart or Bream will take lures. Tailor and other fish
which feed out wide need a lure that will carry the distance. In
these conditions a metal lure weighing anywhere from, 25 to 90 gms
is needed. They take the form of chrome spoons such as the Toby
design, the Wilson Big T and stainless flashback Spoons. Lead bodied
lures such as Juro Lasers, have a strip of prism tape to add flash,
and give you a lure with maximum weight with minimum bulk to help
you attain a distance. Another popular design is the sliced chromed
metal type, one of the original lure patterns.
To get the best results when spinning
, you need a fast retrieve. the Alvey 700C and 650GRC models have
the best line recovery for spinning the surf and a drag to handle
the heavier strike you will get on a lure. The smaller you go in
spool size the slower the retrieve and the less effective. You do
not need a sinker when using lures, however the addition of an extra
swivel in the form of a snap swivel to connect the lure to the line
will help alleviate the increased line twist that comes with spinning.
Try to cast to the edges of Tailor
schools. Often the lure continually being pulled through the school
can alarm it. Give the lure an erratic action by working the tip
of the rod as you retrieve. The fish of the shallower water such
as Flathead will take a lure. A smaller spoon or minnow pattern
lure is ideal. You don't need the fast retrieve you use on Tailor.
A steady but still erratic retrieve is all you need. Again move
carefully when wading, so you don't frighten the fish. Start at
one end of the gutter and cover the water in a series of casts before
moving on a short distance and doing the same.