You’ll find details of the species our Club most actively chases below—but don’t let this list limit your imaginings. There are plenty more fish in the sea… as evidenced in our gallery. Click on a fish species if you want more information, such as regulations, habitat and tackle.


[learn_more caption=”PIGFISH”]

pigfish

Legal Length:  None

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  In Australia, pigfish are generally caught in depths between 30m to 60m around the offshore reefs.

Good baits:  Prawns, various fish baits, pilchards and squid.


Catching Pigfish

Eastern Pigfish, which are part of the Wrasse family, are distributed in the southwest Pacific from southern Queensland to Victoria, including Lord Howe and Norfolk islands. The species is an outside fish and not normally found in estuaries.

Two other species are caught in small quantities in the NSW fishery. The Goldspot Pigfish is a sub-tropical species that occurs from central Queensland to the north coast of NSW so unlikely to be caught off Tuross. The Yellowfin Pigfish is a temperate species from southeastern Australia and New Zealand. It occurs in catches between central NSW and eastern Victoria.

Identification Eastern Pigfish are more common off our waters around Tuross. Juveniles first develop into male reproductive organs in certain circumstances. The two sexes have distinct colour patterns. Pigfish are pink with thin stripes on the sides of the body and red lines on the head. The lines fade as the fish ages. Males are red above with a pinkish to white region on the sides. They have a black blotch on the dorsal fin and that travels the full length of the back, while the female has various markings with two distinct lines coming from its eyes. If the dominant male is taken from the school a female takes over and changes sex!! What a life!

Fishing Locations Eastern pigfish can live to about 30 years of age and can grow up to about 45cm, but the majority of fish caught are between 5 and 15 years old. In Australia, pigfish are generally caught in depths between 30m to 60m around the off shore reefs. Most pigfish are taken as incidental catch by commercial fishers in the Ocean Trap and Line Fishery, or by recreational fishers anchored or drifting for species like Morwong, Snapper, and other reef species. They are very attractive – then again some are not!

Baits Considering Pigfish are an incidental catch one seems to catch them using baits you use for any reef fish. Prawns, various fish baits, pilchards and squid all seem to work on the day if they are on the bite.

Cooking Pigfish Mild to sweet with many fishers claiming they are better than Snapper. This fish is top quality eating. Egg and bread crumbs are great or lightly pan fry the fillets in butter, or try the following microwave recipe below. Fillet the fish and cook for five minutes per 500g on medium-high, allow another 50 seconds more for thicker fillets, or until flesh flakes. If you prefer whole fish try small fish for three to four minutes and larger fish for 6 minutes and then get into them with some lemon![/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”LEATHERJACKET”]

leatherjacket

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  None

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  Tidal rivers, bays, inlets and over reefs extending offshore.

Good baits:  Prawns, squid, pilchards and fish strips.

Good Lures:  Soft plastics[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”GARFISH”]

garfish

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  None

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  Found in shallow coastal areas, large bays and estuaries.

Good baits:  Bread, pipis and worms.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”WHITING”]

whiting

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  27cm

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  Beaches, estuaries, sandflats.

Good Baits:  Marine worms, crustaceans, saltwater nippers.

Good Lures:  Surface lures in warmer months, small flies in shrimp patterns.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”MORWONG”]

morwong

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  30cm

Bag Limit:  10 (Jackass and Grey), 5 (Red and Banded)

Habitat:  Inshore/offshore reef systems. Common over areas where rock and sand mix.

Good Baits:  Prawns, squid and fish strips.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”TREVALLY”]

silver trevally

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  30cm

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  The most common Trevally in NSW waters is the Silver Trevally, which favours inshore reefs, rocky areas and bays.

Good Baits:  Marine worms, prawns, squid and fish strips.

Good Lures:  Glitter and light coloured soft plastics, fast-moving surface lures.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”FLATHEAD”]

dusky flathead

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  Dusky (Common) Flathead 36cm, only 1 over 70cm.

Legal Length:  Bluespotted and Tiger Flathead 33cm.

Bag Limit:  Dusky (Common) Flathead 10.

Bag Limit:  All other Flathead species 20 in total*.

Habitat:  Coastal rivers, estuaries, lakes, inlets, beaches and offshore areas.

Good Baits:  Baitfish (live poddy mullet are a great bait), crustaceans, marine worms and fish strips.

Good Lures:  Diving lures, sinking flies and soft plastics.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”SALMON”]

Australian Salmon

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  None

Bag Limit:  5

Habitat:  Beaches, rocky headlands, inshore reefs, bays, inlets.

Good baits:  Baitfish, beach worms, pipis, prawns.

Good lures: Suckers for paddle-tailed soft plastics. An aggressive, schooling fish, known for its sporting prowess. Salmon are regularly caught by beach fishermen using pilchards and lures.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”SNAPPER”]

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  30cm

Bag Limit:  10

Habitat:  Inshore and offshore reef systems. Rocky headlands and points. Smaller fish common in estuary systems and protected bays.

Good baits:  Squid, fish, prawns, octopus.

Good lures:  Soft plastics resembling bait fish and prawns.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”TAILOR”]

tailor

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  30cm

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  Beaches, rocky headlands, estuaries, inshore reefs.

Good baits:  Small baitfish, such as pilchards and whitebait or oily fish such as tuna.

Good lures: Responds aggressively to metal lures, diving minnows and surface lures on a quick retrieve.


Targeting Tailor

The three best methods of catching tailor are trolling lures or bait behind a boat, throwing soft plastics (especially at the mouths of estuaries or from ocean rocks) and bait fishing from the beach.

Tailor has a narrow body like a mullet but they also have razor sharp teeth. They follow schools of baitfish and will often indulge in feeding frenzies, to the point where they will eat only half a baitfish before attacking another alive one. When the tailor is really excited like this they will strike at almost any bait or lure. Tailor is very nice to eat, usually put up a good fight on light gear and you can catch them in many different ways.

Locations Headlands, rocks, reef, sand and break walls are favourite haunts of tailor, especially where there is white water. When fishing from the rocks it is a good idea to berley with a mixture of bread and pilchards. Scatter handfuls in the wash and on the lower rocks. This will keep the tailor bite longer and will often attract other species such as bream, drummer, black kingfish, and snapper. Tailor are a predatory fish primarily found in rivers, bays, surf and around rocks in close offshore waters the tailor is at home in almost any area with good tidal run and nearby clean deep water. Tailor can be extremely aggressive and it’s not uncommon for tailor to take baits only centimetres smaller than themselves. Smaller fish are most commonly encountered in rivers and bays where these choppers present excellent light game opportunities taking baits and lures readily and performing jumps trying to throw hooks. However it is the traditional beach fishing for tailor that you must try.

Tailor are great fun off the beaches, but be prepared for their razor teeth!

Tailor are great fun off the beaches, but be prepared for their razor teeth!

Beach Fishing Having access to numerous beaches around Tuross tailor fishing is popular. So what is the secret to beach fishing? Observation! Knowing how to identify banks, gutters, drains and rips becomes essential if you hope to regularly catch fish from the beach. Additional observations of swooping birds and for the more experienced surf and rock areas will produce a better class of fish normally then in the estuaries.

When you are beach fishing for tailor, you’ll find they are constantly on the move and may stay in a gutter or hole off the beach for only a short time before moving on. Holes are pockets of deeper water scooped by waves and tide, while gutters are longer channels of deeper water, sometimes running the entire length of a beach. Both formations are easy to spot because the water in them appears darker.

Fishing a rip can produce a lot of tailor as well, as they like to eat the small baitfish carried out by the water. It can be difficult to fish though because of the fast flowing water.

Those wanting to encounter larger fish on a regular basis will be using large cut fillets of fresh mullet, tailor and bonito or whole large gar. Patience is the key to these bigger fish as is a move to plastic coated wire to ensure these big greenbacks don’t part your line with their razor teeth.
tailor on mat

Larger fish should be targeted with a minimum 6 kg line up to 10kg being preferred for very large fish, and hook sizes from 5/0 to 7/0 to suit your bait being used. Tailor as the name implies love tails so using a pilchard tail on a single hook is a good way to start! The beauty of pilchards is, when attacked by a tailor the resulting head shakes and biting spread pieces of the pillie like a natural burley keeping the other fish in the school excited and in your area.

Smaller fish are most commonly encountered in rivers and bays where these choppers present excellent light game opportunities taking baits and lures readily and performing jumps trying to throw hooks. The estuary tailor still loves pilchards, big or small.

Lines sizes can be reduces in the estuaries to 4 to 6 kg range which are more than sufficient for fish likely to range to 1 kg with the average being much smaller. Gangs of 3 x 3/0 hooks are a good option for use with pilchards and also allow main line traces to be used rather than wire trace. This results in many more strikes and hook-ups than if wire is used but be aware the occasional bite off will occur, probably from a second fish striking at a swivel or piece of bait sliding up your line.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”LUDERICK”]

blackfish luderick

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  27cm Bag Limit:  20 Habitat:  Rocky headlands, coastal rivers and estuary systems. Good baits:  Marine weeds (green weed and cabbage), bread, cunjevoi and marine worms.


Fishing for Luderick or Rock Blackfish (Drummer)

The following information is kindly shared by Tuross Fishing Club member, Merv Roberts, who has specialised in Luderick fishing for many years…

Long-standing Tuross Head Fishing Club member, Merv Roberts shares his tips for successful luderick fishing.

Luderick (or Blackfish) are available locally for about eight months of the year. They start to congregate around the rocky headlands and the entrance to Tuross from mid October each year as they commence their spawning run moving into the estuaries. Good size fish are still plentiful up until March and sometimes longer depending on conditions. They look for safe locations to breed and feed so a rough bottom or an adjacent rock or reef where weed is growing would be a good spot to fish as they have protection and a food supply. 

The main tips are to be patient, be very observant, fish at various depths until you get bites, burley and use good fresh bait such as weed or cabbage and fish the right tide when there is not too much of a tidal run.

Baits:

Cabbage weed and green weed are favoured by Tuross Head blackfish.

Cabbage weed and green weed are favoured by Tuross Head blackfish.Long stringy green weed is a good choice and is collected from the estuaries while cabbage weed is collected from the ocean rocks at low tide therefore caution is needed. In winter, weed is difficult to find so check out the local drains, golf course and similar locations. It is not uncommon to catch a Drummer while fishing for Luderick especially when fishing the ocean rocks or break walls as they also are attracted to similar baits. Drummers are dirty fighters and unless you have heavier lines you will often get busted off and most likely lose you float! At different times of the year Luderick will take nippers and worms. The weed or cabbage needs to be twisted around the hook starting above the eye of the hook and finishing about two centimetres or one inch below the hook, this is known as the “tail”. You usually need a tail, as this is the part the fish nibbles at before taking the complete bait. Check the “tail” regularly. Cabbage weed will not last as long as the long green stringier weed so only pick what you need for your days fishing. It is the preferred weed for the front section of the Tuross Lake area. The long green weed will keep for a number of days if stored in a cool place in a damp hessian bag. Rods:

Merv Roberts runs through the fundamentals of a blackfishing rod.

Merv Roberts runs through the fundamentals of a blackfishing rod.

Luderick are caught using a long rod, about 10 – 12 feet is preferred. There is no leading or casting on the rod as the casts are short and line is fed off the reel slowly as the float drifts away.

Floats: The float needs to be accurately weighted to reduce the resistance when it is pulled under the water, which indicates a fish strike. Count to three, then strike! Practice makes perfect! Merv makes his own floats and he places a little bit of sheet lead around the stem of his float. This ensures the float stands vertically quickly and you are ready for the next bite especially if the fish are active.  Smaller pencil floats are often used in the quite estuary areas while larger heavier floats are used off the rocks as they are easier to cast with the added weight.

Lines:  Merv recommends a 10lb main line and a 6lb trace for Luderick fishing with a slightly stronger line for Drummer fishing. The lines are joined using a small swivel with the float above the swivel.  Merv uses a little stopper between the swivel and float, which seems to act as a shock absorber, it is plastic and looks like it came off thin electrical cable. If you catch the bottom or get snagged hopefully the 6lb line will break and you won’t lose you float.

A very strong but thin fluorocarbon line (dogtooth brand) makes a good trace as the line is difficult to see in the water. A good tip is to apply Vaseline to the main line as this will ensure the line floats on the surface, which reduces the resistance when it is time to strike. Keep the minimum amount of line out between the rod tip and the float because when it is time to strike you don’t want too much slack line to retrieve otherwise your strike is likely to be too late and ineffective.

The trace line has various pieces of split lead or sheet lead attached to sink your float, so only the top of the stem is visible. This is painted bright red or fluoro colour for easy visibility. Various leaders are used for different conditions. When fish are touchy, slide the lead away from the hook or further up the line.

David Rothwell pins a luderick.

Success! David Rothwell pins a luderick.

When fishing break walls a heavier lead closer to the hook is needed to get down quickly and all this will come with experience. A stopper needs to be attached to your main line, this is adjustable to enable various depths to be fished. Stoppers can be purchased or just tie a piece of wool on your line using a figure eight knot, pull tight and trim off as this needs to pass through the rod runners.

Reels: Merv prefers the traditional centre pin reel as the line can be feed off easily and if there is a need to strike quickly, just place you finger against the side of the spool. No mucking around with bail arms.

Hooks: Sizes between No 6 to 10 are preferred with size 8 preferred by Merv.

Tides: Merv prefers the run out tide. The last few hours are good as the current slows down and the float drifts slowly. The water is a little dirty and the fish should not be so shy and more willing to take bait. The last hour or so leading up to high tide is also a good time to try as the fish have access to a food source -especially around the rocks.

Burley: This is essential. Collect half a bucket of sand and mix up finely cut green weed or cabbage. Make a moist but firm mix. This can be formed into balls in the palm of your hand and cast into the water close to you float. Don’t overdo it as you want the fish to feed on your bait but the burley will attract the fish and bring them on the chew!

Preparation and cooking: Christine’s advice is to clean you fish and place in the fridge over night, this sets the fish flesh and makes it easier to fillet and de-bone. Skin each fillet, place in plastic bags with the date fish were caught then freeze if you don’t want to eat them immediately. Christen prefers to keep it simple and prepares the fillets in egg and breadcrumbs and will cook in a pan with a small amount of vegetable oil until light brown. She uses the older packs for fish rissoles! Sounds great!

John Suthern with a blackfish.

John Suthern managed a blackfish following a little tuition.

Safety: When fishing the ocean rocks please take extreme care. Each year there are a number of fishers who drown from rocking fishing. Make sure you don’t collect bait or fish alone, take time to look for a safe location if you don’t know the area well, watch the sea for some time before approaching the rocks, fish the last few hours of the falling tide, wear an inflatable life jacket and wear light clothes and good footwear including cleats if a good grip is needed. Take a mobile phone and tell someone where you are and when you will be back.

Fishing Rules: Luderick – has a minimum size limit of 27cm and a bag limit of 20. The bands of vertical lines, small head and mouth easily identify them. Rock Blackfish (or Drummer) have a size limit of 30cm and a bag limit of 10.[/learn_more] [learn_more caption=”BREAM”]

yellow fin bream

© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.

Legal Length:  25cm

Bag Limit:  20

Habitat:  Rivers, estuaries, beaches, rocky headlands, inshore reefs.

Good Baits:  Crustaceans, molluscs, marine worms, small baitfish. Live prawns are a great bait for bream.

Good Lures:  Small minnow lures, small soft plastics, small surface lures. Tip: Bream are wily, go light for more bite.[/learn_more]