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Who Dares Wins

Heading down to the South Western corner of Australia in search of hard pulling pelagic’s from the stones is an expedition often fraught with danger. Heavy lines, heavy fish, slippery rock ledges and large crashing swells all play their part in ensuring this hard core style of fishing is definitely not for the faint hearted.

Safety is of main consideration when fishing from dangerous rock locations and certain precautions need to be taken to ensure your expedition is not only enjoyable but also safe. Rock hopper boots enable anglers to securely plant their feet on the slippery stones with their strong, sharp metal spikes penetrating the soft, slimy stuff and offering a good solid hold on most common surfaces. PFD’s or personal floatation devices are also a must and should be checked and maintained to a fail proof level. Never fish alone and make sure someone at home knows where you are and when you are expected back. Respect the ocean and all of her power and never risk rescuers lives!

Trying to stop large, hard pulling pelagic and seriola species from the slippery southern stones is hard enough without having to haul them up onto high rock platforms for filleting or photos. Long, strong rods and large heavy reels full of ridiculously thick line are all the norm down here and totally necessary for any angler who wants to have a serious crack.

Ballooning live baits such as squid and herring is a popular technique for calm conditions when the wind is at your back and is probably the simplest method of feeding live bait to a large rock dwelling predator. (for full large float rig details click here…) Twelve to thirteen foot rods rated at 15 – 24kg coupled with large spin or overhead reels loaded with 30 – 80lb nylon lines are needed as are heavy leaders of 80 – 120lb. Hook sizes vary depending on target species and bait size but average between 7/0 – 12/0 with the number one rule being the stronger and sharper the better. Swivels also need to be super strong and capable of handling the pressure placed on the heavy lines and leaders.

Slide baiting is another popular technique for delivering large dead or live baits out into deep water from shore and is best suited to rougher conditions when ballooning winds are unfavorable. This tricky little technique is one of my old favorites and has accounted for many memorable land based captures for me over the years. (for full slide bait rig details click here…)

Firstly cast a large grapnel styled sinker out and allow it to settle into the sea floor, then you simply attach your live bait and slide bait clip to your main line and slide the lot down and out towards the stopper clip and sinker like a flying fox. A piece of sacrificial 30lb leader of around one meter in length is tied between the sinker and stopper clip, this is designed to snap during a strike leaving the angler to freely battle the fish without the worry or risk of the heavy grapnel sinker snagging.

There are two different styles of slide bait clips generally used, the uni directional clip which as its name suggests will only slide in one direction and eventually end up at the stopper clip. And the dual directional clip which obviously swings both ways and is very handy for suspending baits in mid water and white water strike zones. These clips also need to be heavy duty to cope with the brutal punishment our magnificent southern ocean is capable of delivering at times. The Richter brand of slide bait clips are the best I have found available and are made from high tensile stainless and top quality components to ensure success every time.

This hard core form of rock fishing would have to be one of the most difficult forms of fishing imaginable and it is not hard to see why so many anglers risk life and limb each and every year to do it. The rewards are definitely there for those prepared to put in the effort with species such as tuna, groper, king fish, Samson fish and snapper just to name a few. The lengths an angler generally has to go to in order to achieve such captures is more often than not bordering on insanity, but you know what they say, Who Dares Wins.

For instance this trip I was fishing a brutal 13 foot, 50 – 80lb graphite, low mount 3 piece Loomis and Franklin rod coupled with a Shimano Torium 30 overhead reel and a Shimano 13 foot Revolution Coastal 15 – 24kg rod with Shimano Spheros SW 20,000 spin reel. Both reels were loaded with 200 meters of 30lb nylon line top shotted with 80 meters of 80lb nylon shock leader joined to 25 meters of 120lb wind on leader. Seems excessive I know but believe me if you weren’t rigged this way you weren’t even in with half a chance!

The 30lb nylon main line is thin enough to get plenty of capacity on the reel yet strong enough to put some serious hurt on a big fish when it runs wide and the 80lb nylon shock leader comes in real handy when line starts coming into contact with rocks in close. The 120lb leader comes into its own when big kings and sambos play dirty and also during landing but is a bit of a bitch to cast. It certainly casts easier and further from an overhead reel for those with the skill to do so. The boys and I managed some very nice blue fin tuna, Samson fish, snapper and salmon over the 2 days of fishing before the weather turned and sent us packing.

The ledge we fished this year was around 10 – 15 meters above sea level; it was sloping, steep and extremely dangerous. All safety precautions were in place and everyone there had plenty of experience when it comes to this sort of thing. Seriously do not attempt this style of fishing unless you are totally confident and prepared to do so as this is generally how most anglers are killed each year. Mind you it is also one of the most exhilarating yet exhausting forms of fishing I have ever experienced and certainly one I look forward to experiencing again very soon.

Calm seas, clear skies

Nick Hocking

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Perth Fishing TV – Ep02

Perth Fishing TV Episode 2 (Full)
00:00 – Investigation into Cockburn Snapper Deaths
13:00 – Become a Fishing TV Presenter
14:03 – Paul Greenwood & Jesse Greenwood and their dhufish secrets

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Shimano Ocea Wing Jigs

Jigging has certainly come a long way over the years from the good old days of cranking slim, fast action metal jigs for seriola species like yellow tail kings, samson fish and the mighty amberjack. To these days where they now catch everything from pelagics such as mackerel, tuna and wahoo to demersal species such as our beloved Western Australian Dhu fish and Bald chin groper. This has led to a proverbial tsunami of jigs flooding today’s market leaving anglers with the ponderous task of what jigs to use and when?

Not only are there many different styles of jigs available but as to be expected they also come in a range of different qualities. These qualities are generally gauged by price although some manufacturers with greater buying power are capable of producing top quality jigs at a more reasonable cost than most. Cheaper jigs will catch fish, just not as many as the top notch models will.

Shimano has always had a name for producing top quality products and is still to this day the only tackle manufacturer confident enough in their products to offer an unbeatable 10 year warranty. Their range of Stella reels are still the pick of the bunch and when coupled with the Grappler range of jig rods make an absolutely sensational jigging set up. Shimano Stella 5000 and 6000 reels loaded with PE 3 braided lines attached to Shimano Grappler jig rods rated to PE 2 – 3 are my preferred jig outfits for targeting demersal, seriola and pelagic species in 25 – 60 meters of water.

Not only do Shimano produce top quality rods and reels but they also have a killer lure range including some of the best jigs available. Their Bottom Ship 2 range of jigs has proven themselves to be a winner with anglers all over the world as have the new Ocea Wing jigs. With their full name, Ocea Stinger Butterfly Wing offering a hint as to the kind of action they produce these Japanese styled butterfly jigs allow anglers to fish the entire time their jig is in the water. The heavy rear end of the jig is designed for rapid decent with the multi-faceted side creating a fluttering wobble during both free fall and when being worked at depth. Ocea Wing jigs can be worked either fast or slow and will account for a large variety of species no matter where you are. Fish will eat them on the decent, when being worked at depth and also on their rapid retrieval, a privilege certainly not available to those who fish with bait rigs.

Butterfly jigging is by no means a new or cutting edge technique and has been steadily mastered by the Japanese over the years to the point of perfection. This finesse style of slow action jigging has produced incredible results all over the world and is now set to revolutionize the way many of us go fishing. The idea is to drop the jig to the sea floor and begin a slow lift and drop/flutter style of action similar to the motion of a slow rocking boat. Lift the jig slowly as the boat rises over a swell and simply allow it to flutter as you drop back down the other side keeping the jig as close to the sea floor as possible. Once the jig is 4 or 5 meters off the bottom drop it and begin the retrieve again until your line angle becomes too shallow effecting the jigs natural action. Sometimes it helps to add a little flick at the end of the lift depending on the mood of the fish. Most jigs will only work to their full effect when they are fished directly under the angler.

This style of jig and retrieve is designed to imitate the majority of a reef fish diet and mimics 100% of all demersal species prey items including Crustacean (Prawns, crabs, crays ), Cephalopod ( Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish ) and even small fish. To say that it is extremely effective is an enormous understatement and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this finesse style of jigging replacing the old days of dragging large lumps of lead around the sea floor attached to heavy Paternoster styled rigs loaded with chunky baits. Not only is slow action butterfly or demersal jigging more effective but it is also a lot more enjoyable allowing anglers the luxury of fishing with lighter and more comfortable outfits. Jigging is not only kinder to the angler but also the fish as 99% of all jig hook ups are ideally in the mouth allowing anglers to release unwanted or undersized fish with a much greater success rate than with bait rigs.

Gone are the days of cumbersome, multi tray tackle boxes, buckets of lead and heavy 50 – 80lb bottom bashing outfits that weigh a tonne. Now we can go fishing with merely two light jig outfits, some leader and a wallet full of jigs. Taking jigs home ready to use over and over again is also an added bonus and saves refreezing or throwing away all that smelly left over bait at the end of a day’s fishing, such a waste. As with the old style of bait fishing for bream and snapper has given way to the new, highly effective finesse style of artificial luring so will bottom bashing be slowly transformed into the wonderful world of artificial.

Light fluoro carbon leaders of 40 – 60lb are practically impossible for fish to see and cope exceptionally well with the rugged punishment most reef environments provide. Longer lighter leaders are more necessary in very calm, clear conditions and heavier leaders are generally used around rough terrain such as caves and pinnacles. Bimmini twist knots are still preferred to double and strengthen braided lines before connection to leader with an improved Albrite knot.

Ocea Wing jigs come unrigged to offer anglers a custom rigging option of either single, double or even wire assist hook set ups depending on their own individual preferences and requirements. Double assist hooks with coloured or lumo rubber squid are most popular here. If you can’t find them in local tackle stores yet you can order them online from Shimano’s excellent website http://www.shimanofish.com.au/

 These jigs come in sizes 110 – 350 grams in an assortment of proven fish catching colours that are sure to impress. A rule of 1 gram per foot of water is generally a good gauge as to what jigs to use at certain depths. Example calm to moderate conditions with little current, 80 – 90 gram jig in 30 meters of water. As for colours everyone seems to have their own preference but for here around metropolitan W.A orang/gold in morning and afternoon and silver/blue/pink for the middle of the day are most popular. Gold/lumo is also a great colour combo on a dull cloudy day or early morning/late afternoon.

For anyone wanting to learn more about demersal jigging techniques? Fish-On does provide an exclusive, professionally guided jig charter out of Lancelin W.A. with yours truly on board, For more information please contact me on nick@nullfish-on.com

Calm seas, clear skies

Nick Hocking

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