By Alex Bellisimo
Things have been tough lately but certainly tougher for others. I am very fortunate to live close enough to the ocean allowing me to get my regular dose of the outdoors.
These product reviews are recent, so I can give you my most up to date catches from my local waters, the Northern Beaches of Sydney. As a fulltime fishing guide on the North Shore specializing in rock and beach fishing work has been very quiet of late with the restrictions in in place, and I, like many, can’t wait to get back work and doing what we love.
This blog will focus on a few of the lures, line, rods, and reels that I’ve been using of late on the rocks and beaches from Barrenjoey to North Head.
I’ve been fishing 5” Bait Junkie Jerkshads on the rocks a lot lately and catching a variety of different species on them. I’ve caught snapper up to 45cm and trevally up to 40cm, with the pilchard glow colour one of the standouts.
One fish in particular, a solid snapper, nailed the Jerkshad hard and pulled plenty of line under heavy drag. After a few more powerful bursts it eventually relented, and I guided it to the surface and towards the rock ledge I was standing on. It was a 2.5 metre drop down to the water so I patiently waited for a wave to come so I could then lift and guide it up onto the ledge. It was a heart in the mouth moment but it eventually all came together so I could land the fish.
When fishing soft plastics matching the weight of the jighead to the depth of the water you’re fishing is very important. The deeper the water gets and the more movement there is in the water from waves and surges the heavier I’ll go. You can stay light but it’ll take longer for your plastic to sink to the depth it needs to be at.
Snapper off the rocks can be caught from mid depth but the majority will be found on the bottom or 1.5 metres above the bottom. They feed on invertebrates, crustaceans and small fish and it’s in this bottom to 1.5 metre zone where you’ll find this kind of snapper fodder.
Techniques can vary when using this plastic off the rocks. Here are a couple of simple methods. Cast out at distance, flick the bail arm over 1-2 seconds after the lures lands on the water surface. You’re line will tighten up relatively quickly and your plastics will wobble and work as it sinks to the bottom on the tight line.
Another easy method is cast out at distance whip your rod a couple of times upwards allowing free line to come off the spool with your bail arm open. Your plastic will sink downwards vertically. You should count the sink in seconds. Generally in 6-8 metres of water you can sink it for about 10-12 seconds at least with a 1/2 oz jighead. Wind up the necessary slack, rod pointing at about 25 degrees then do a double upwards lift of the rod to 80-90 degrees. Stop, then lower the rod down to 40 degrees and wait for a knock or a strike. Repeat this method, and if there’s a fish in the area there’s a very strong chance that you’ll trigger it to eat the lure.
Snapper and trevally aren’t the only species that I’ve been catching on the Jershads with kings, bonito, tailor (although I prefer to avoid tailor as they chop your lure in half) and flathead all getting in on the Bait Junkie party. If you have tried the Bait Junkie Jerkshads yet I highly recommend that you do. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
I’ve been fishing two rods of late, a Seabass 110MH (2-piece, 335cm, 7-15kg) and an Over There 109MH (2-piece, 228 cm, 7-15kg). Both are great rods but if I had to pick a favourite I’d give it to the Over There by a whisker.
The Over There is the thinnest of the two rods and feels like an extension of your arm. While the rod may be thin and hyper-sensitive it has plenty of grunt and is capable of vertical lifting fish up to two kilos. While the rod is rated to 15kg, 12kg would be the heaviest I’d use on it so I don’t max out the capabilities of the rod.
Similarly I’ve been using two reels of late, the tried and well tested 4000 BG work horse and the newest BG version, a BG MQ 5000D-H. Both reels are strong, robust and can handle whatever I throw at them, and both hold plenty of 20lb.
Even after casting a metal out 60-80 metres the spool still has plenty of line on it so you don’t get that increase line angle-line friction issue that occurs in the back end of the cast when the spool gets low in line. The elimination of this maximises casting distance and line flow efficiency off the spool. Keeping your reel sufficiently spooled with line so it’s 2-3 mm below the lip of the spool is something that I also highly recommend to maximise casting distance and performance.
Line and Leader
One of my favourite lines is J-Braid Grand in island blue colour. This is my go-to line choice and its high abrasion resistance stands up to the harsh rock ledges and abrasive shoreline that I usually find myself fish.
Rock blackfish, groper, and of course kings hang out in pretty rough country and love nothing more than trying to brick you so a line that can handle getting towed home is essential, and J-Braid Grand can certainly handle this type of treatment.
Likewise a hard wearing leader is a must and J-Thread FC in 14 to 20lb is what I always reach for. I’ll sometime go as heavy as 30lb, but with J-Thread being supple it means you lose nothing in user friendliness in exchange for increase protection.
Whenever attempting rock fishing have a hi vis rain coat, quality steel spike rock boots and a Hobie AS4758 50 Life Jacket. Preferably fish calmer sea conditions and always give a reliable person accurate details on where and when you’re going and when you plan on coming home. It’s steps and measures like this that can help save lives.
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope I have encouraged you to get out there.