Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.

I thought it might be interesting to say a bit about sea fishing in Australia. We spent time in both Western Australia and Queensland and, as far as I could tell, the general approach seemed to be the same in both. Of course in two weeks it would be impossible to get a rounded view of the fishing on a whole continent but here goes.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 33 Fishing in Australia.

Of course the basic interest in fishing is the same everywhere in the world. The adrenaline rush when you feel that initial tap on the line and the excitement of the first view of your catch as it comes to the surface are universal. However, the people I met down under seemed to be much more interested in filling the frying pan than we are. There are obviously big fish to be caught over there and from what I was told the sport can be fantastic but almost everyone I met was more concerned with the eating qualities of the catch than in its battling capabilities.

The tackle shops were packed with lures. Plugs were by far the most common but the bulk of them were obviously designed for trolling or deep water spinning. The fact that the lures on sale were every colour under the sun suggests that the actual colour used may not matter very much. Despite the wide availability of lures, during my stay I only saw one person other than myself using spinning gear, everyone else was legering with bits of prawn, fish, meat or bread. Handlines were still much in evidence and sidecast reels, such as the Alvey, were very popular. Clearly both are effective. The tackle invariably consisted of, fairly hefty (20-30lb?) monofilament, a simple weight of one or two ounces and a short trace with a size six hook (bigger for big baits). Gang hooks (three or four hooks linked in a row, bend to eye) are widely used for big baits (eg whole sardines) where we would use a double hook tackle.

Usually the hook was baited with a small cube of bait (prawn etc.), slung out and left until something took it. Many species were caught on these basic rigs but one of the most popular catches was whiting. Although they look a bit like our own whiting the Australian ones are quite different and there are four or five species. The whiting were generally on the small side but anything close to the size limit was dropped into a bucket of sea water and retained.

The range of species available, both in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, is mind boggling and many of them will take legered chunks of prawn but the anglers are pretty selective about what they keep. Wrasse and their relatives are usually discarded as are goatfish (red mullet) and grey mullet. The ubiquitous whiting, flatheads, brim (bream) and pike (barracuda species) were all regarded as prime eating fish. I have to say that while we were there I tried 'whiting', barramundi, flathead, 'pike', 'herring' and spanish mackerel with my chips and only the latter was what I would call tasty (a nice piece of haddock would probably be preferable to any of them). Of course this may be unfair as restaurant fish may not be top quality or freshness, however I can only tell it as I found it.

The fish which are eaten are all protected by size limits and bag limits, both of which seem pretty generous. Crabs, crawfish, oysters and mussels (also popular catches in dropnets or by hand collection) are also protected from over exploitation.

For the boat angler, fish attracting devices (FADs) have been deployed out at sea and provide good marks for those in search of dolphin fish and other large game species.

If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you.' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - docladle@hotmail.com


Think like a fish.

Fishing in Australia.

The Swan River, Perth.

The city of Perth lies in and around the estuary of the Swan River.

Banksia shrub.

Banksias were flowering even in the autumn.


A small bag of whiting being kept fresh to be eaten.


In Queensland several metres of rain per year generate lush growths of plants.


Butterflys of all shapes and sizes were everywhere in Queensland.

Scalloped Hammerhead.

Another picture of the little hammerhead - these fish release their young in shallow water.  I think this one was returned alive.