By Grayson Fong
Have you ever passed a local waterhole and thought ’I wonder if there is fish in there?’ Well good chance there probably is more than you think. Along with your standard freshwater inhabitants like guppies, gudgeons, shrimp and turtles, lies an unsuspecting bully not only by size but by nature… the ungovernable tilapia.
Being of African descent and part of the cichlid family, tilapia have inundated a high majority of our freshwater waterways over the last two decades earning it a start in the top 100 worst invasive species list due to factors like their high reproductive efficiency, food adaptability (being vegetarian) and flexible habitat preferences, making them a dangerous species to have present in any water system.
In my experiences in catching Tilapia the primary baits I have used have been soft plastics, the delectable white bread and the compost favourite the humble earthworms. Without fail, all these baits work but the standout bait is hands down earthworms as tilapia love the action (and obviously taste!) as they are threaded onto your hook and wiggle around in and attractive manor.
I generally arm myself with a light outfit as used for bream or whiting (A perfect match would be a TD Hyper 701ULXS and 2500 sized 21 Freams FC LT) as this adds to the excitement once fighting these fish amongst lillypads, weeds and the occasional snag. A seven foot long J-Thread leader in 6lb is ample strength but you may need to upgrade to 8lb or 10lb if you have to lift your catch up rocks or onto a pontoon as these guys can get really heavy and have a knack of fishing till the end even when they hit land.
Hook choice depends on the pond I am fishing as I try to avoid using a traditional sinker/trace rig and opt to thread my earthworms onto a lightly weighted jighead which allows for more accuracy when fishing in ponds with heavy overhead cover. A 1/60th hidden weight style jighead is great if you only need to cast around a 10m radius where a 1/40 (hidden weight) is better when needing to cast further or if you are needing more control on where to put your casts.
Packing light is a must when chasing these waterway pests so a light backpack is ample to load in your essential like a good pair of pliers, spare hooks, extra leader, drinking water and more importantly mozzie spray as you will definitely experience some in your travels. A large bucket is also a must as this can be used to load up your catch before disposing of it properly in accordance with your state’s guidelines.
So now you are set to tackle tilapia at your local pond, be sure to respect the surroundings that you are fishing in as others generally use the same area for a myriad of other activities. Also dispose of all fish in an area away from people, playgrounds and eating areas as their ‘aroma’ is known to travel once’s perished. Happy Fishing!!