Mike Ladle


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Tackle and Tactics.

More news from down under.

THINK LIKE A FISH Part 34 A multitude of fishes.

High biodiversity - this seems to be the in phrase for lots of different plants or animals living in the same place. The other week when I was out in a boat off Perth I experienced exactly what it means. My new pal Rick took me for a morning's fishing just a couple of kilometres from the beaches north of Perth. I had my own five-piece spinning rod and reel loaded with 30lb Whiplash braid. Rick's rod and reel were a bit heavier but I was happy to try with mine. The water was only twenty or thirty feet deep and we were going to drift (slowed by a small drogue) over a clean sandy bottom with little tidal movement.

I looked at the end tackle on Rick's rod - a simple, two hook paternoster with hooks about size 6 and a two ounce sinker. I tied on a metre-and-a-half of 15lb nylon made a single dropper with a size six carp hook and attached a half ounce bomb (the braid's only like six pound nylon). The baits were sections of (unbarbied) prawn or bits of bulls heart. I opted for a piece of prawn and lowered my lead over the side. After a few seconds I felt it tap the bottom and waited for action.

Apparently in ideal conditions the wind and tide would have drifted us along lanes of sandy material on the seabed but as luck would have it we were drifting across the lanes. Nevertheless it was not long before I had a tap, struck too soon and missed it. Meanwhile Rick landed a sand whiting which he kept for food. Before I managed another bite my mentor landed two more but then I began to get the hang of it and we went fish-for-fish. Almost every time we reeled in there was something different on the end - it was a revelation. Sand whiting, king george whiting, several species of wrasse, almost as many different 'gropers' (I would call them wrasse as well), a small barracuda, flatheads, goatfish, herrings, leatherjackets and a couple of things that Rick said he had never seen before

The range of species available, both in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, is mind boggling and many of them (it seems) 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. Pretty enlightened our cousins from down under.

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.

More news from down under.

'Sand' Whiting.

These little fish were the commonest catch and are popular as food.

King George Whiting.

Bigger and beautifully marked in gold, another good meal.

Leatherjacket (foulhooked).

A type of triggerfish with a tough skin (at least my hook was sharp).


This small species of barracuda lurks in the weedy areas.


Known as southern toadfish these little devils have unbelievably powerful jaws and are detested bait stealers.


Just one of several nicely marked wrasse that we caught.

Baldchin groper.

These fish grow huge and are popular with anglers.

Rosy goatfish.

These are similar to our own red mullet and big ones make good eating.


Flatheads are good sport and foodfish.  They are exactly like our dragonets to look at.


These lovely little fish fight like hell. I believe that they feed on seaweed fly maggots (like bass and mullet) so they must be superb fly sport from the beach.