Bags or blocks of pilchards (from the sardine and tommy ruff family of fishes) are nowadays an expensive form of bait, but terrific for snapper, salmon, mulloway and red nannys to name but a few. After the frozen pilchards thaw out they become soft & almost unusable. Greg James tip? Grab a large packet of home-brand rock salt and cover the remaining pilchards which will harden the bait for your next trip. Wrap the salted pillies in either newspaper or butchers paper & bung it in the freezer! Tight Lines!
Most anglers know that achieving success in catching the iconic KG whiting requires at least one hook to be positioned as far below the sinker as possible. Well, here's a tip from Greg James' fishing history book that he used to great effect when working as a deckie for a couple of commercial line fishermen out of Thevenard on the State's far west coast. Run up to 1 metre of line below a round or barrel sinker & attach both (yes, both) hooks below that weight. Mushy & very soft squid is a great bait to use with this technique.
You will give yourself a great chance to keep your catch longer if you use some/all of these helpful tips from Greg James:
- Keep time from cleaning to freezer at an absolute minimum.
- Seal in freezer bags or clingwrap & remove as much air from the parcel.
- Mark each parcel with a use by date as some fish keeps longer than others.
- Freeze fillets like gar, tommies, red mullet & salmon trout in salt water overnight, then tap out of container (it's now like a small brick) and wrap & place back in freezer - this tip will add weeks to the freezer-life & help prevent freezer-burn!
- Manage the freezer contents so fish doesn't get lost in the mass of other foods you may have in your freezer.
- Red mullet and whiting – red mullies are more aggressive fish than whiting, so when you first bring these in, drop back on the burley and cast your whiting rigs 1 metre further out. It would also be well worth throwing out a squid jag at this time.
- Garfish, tommies and snook - are surface feeding and school in the spring and summer when the water is warm. Burley for all three species, use a moving lure (eg snook flotation bladder) for the snook and the dark piece of a cockle for bait for the tommies and gar.
- Salmon trout, yellowfin whiting and mullet - anywhere you can find seaweed clumps and some surging water is the best place to fish from the beach. These species love feeding off the shallows using the discoloured water as camouflage.
Some handy uses for seawater
Main components: Oxygen, Hydrogen, Chloride, Sodium, Magnesium, Sulphur.
- Cooking blue crabs, rock lobster, mussels
- Mixing with vinegar for preserving crab meat, squid, abalone, razor fish
- Mixing 1:1 with brown sugar for soaking fish to be smoked
- Cleaning the catch
- Chilling the catch eg cooked blueys
- Freezing fish e.g. garfish fillets, tommy ruffs, blue crabs (uncooked), prawns, salmon
- Adds at least 2–3 months freezer time for your catch
- Makes a great crushed ice slurry to go in the fish esky
- Use a clean bucket with a lid & single use only – don't use the bait bucket!
- Collect from water over 2 meters deep to lessen impurities
- Do not collect from the boatramp – it may have contaminants like fuel, oil, bait, chemicals & other spoiling agents
- Jetty ok but check for stormwater runoffs etc.
Now that the salmon & mullet schools have commenced their migratory runs early in winter it is great news for shore-based anglers as they can be found along many of our sandy beaches & 50 plus jetties across the State with a shallow tide base
- Try using light gear with a super-flexile tipped fishing rod and a ball sinker.
- The best bait (in Greg James' opinion) is the clear part of the Goolwa cockle (pipi) or small pieces of really mushy squid.
- Gents are also a good bet for bait or rolled, slightly damo bread pieces.
- Freshwater fishing – start out with a round, ball or barrel sinker.
- Beach or rivermouth fishing – use a ball sinker or star/hat shape if the conditions are rough.
- Bottom fishing – conical, ball or diamond, depending on the rate of tide or current.
- Estuary fishing – bean sinkers are best with ball & barrel shapes a good alternative.
- Rock fishing – snapper sinkers are the best bet, starting lighter at first.
- Float fishing – when clamping the split shot, do not over tighten, as this can damage & break your line.
- Try recycling plastic milk containers as burley cages and/or bait holders for shore based fishing.
- Make your own fish measures with PVC water pipe cut to individual fish legal lengths & capped on one end – insert the fish & if the tail is visible, it's a keeper!
- Prepare a back-up first aid kit & keep it in your fishing tackle box – things like painkillers, bandage, insect repellent, sunblock, lipgloss, iodine solution, eyewash, electrical tape etc.
- Always carry a pair of gloves (diving gloves or old golfer gloves are great) as added protection. You can tighten the fit by cutting off the finger tips of the gloves.
- Diver boots/sand shoes are great for raking crabs from the shallows & can also protect your pinkies on boat ramps as well!
Here Greg James highlights a couple of handy tips for increasing the effective life of your boat and gear!
- Always wipe down your fishing rods with a wet cloth (freshwater!) after use.
- Rinse your hand–line in freshwater also after use.
- Don't over–run your outboard motor when flushing with freshwater. 30-60secs is ample.
- Check the status of the rod eyelet on the tip regularly. This part of the rod does most of the work & the constant line movement can actually cut the inside ring.
Still struggling to land one of those iconic King George Whiting on a regular basis? A companion fish to the whiting is the beautiful red mullet. Greg James' hot fishing tip is as follows:
- Tie your burley basket to the anchor chain, especially if the tide is running hard.
- As soon as you land a red mullet, retrieve the burley basket and fish 1-2 metres further out as the more timid school whiting sit back from the initial action.
- Selectively drop heavier/solid burley pellets to hit the bottom only about 2-3 metres from the stern of the boat - this should bring the whiting in closer to your boat/jetty.
- Run a rig with a hook below the sinker and a hook above with a big piece of cheesy squid as the top bait.
This is a common question Greg James receives on his popular fishing segment on ABC891 Mornings Radio every Friday after 11:30am (Freecall 1300 222 891). Here is a Hot Fishing Tip from Greg:
- Grab a pair of pliers & gently squeeze the gap a little between the curve & shank of your hook.
- Halve the size of the amount of bait on the hook.
- Regularly move your line by quietly winding the line back towards you.
- Check that the breaking strain on the business end of your line (sinker/hooks) is not heavier than the main line itself, especially if using swivels.
- Try using lighter gauge gear.
- If using a rod, check that the end eyelet is not corroded or damaged, as this can camouflage bites from cunning fish!.
The garfish season is fast approaching, so here is a classic Greg James Hot Fishing Tip to ensure you get the best results for your efforts...
- Set different gauge hooks on the line for either jetty or boat to keep the smaller pesky tommies from taking all the baits.
- Narrow the larger hook gauge by using a pair of pliers to squeeze the hook barb close to the shank.
- Try setting your line from time to time with the hooks both set almost together at the bottom of the line after the float.
- Drop back on the burley if the tommies & smaller fish persist.
- Cast your line into dark or coloured water rather than over the clearer sandy bottom.
Having problems keeping the fine burley or mince intact when casting from the jetty or beach? Greg James tip is to use some breadcrumbs or flour with a drop or two of olive oil to make the mix ‘sticky’.
This enables you to keep the mass together much longer when chasing tommies, salmon trout or mullet – Tight Lines!
- Life jackets - if they're not worn, they're not life jackets!
- Fuel - replace if stale as modern day unleaded fuel has a limited storage life.
- Inboard motors - check carefully for leakages, hose fittings, oil levels, drive belts.
- Outboard motors - check air intakes, corrosion, fuel and oil levels, water pump.
- Toolkit - pliers, spare plugs, water repellent, monkey wrench (shifting spanner).
- Safety equipment - flares, EPIRB, fire extinguisher, torch, oars/paddles, radio.
- Lights - both navigation and sight.
- Lines, rope & chain - check for fraying, cuts and that the links are free of rust and corrosion.
- Electronics - check the radio, wiring and fuses.
- Batteries - charge and life levels. Greg James always goes out with two batteries - so should you!
- Minimise corrosion - remove from clamps, electricals, trailer, fuel tanks, steering system/cables.
- Spares - of everything!
- Boat trailer - axles, spare wheel, coupling, winch, brakes, lights, number plate.
- Bilge pump - hose in some water and try before you go!
Sick of the 'birds nests' in your fishing line? Especially when the kids are fishing with you! Here is a great Greg James tip on how to make life a little easier when this happens.....
- Always have a back-up line ready so if the dreaded tangle does happen, put it aside & grab the other rod/line & keep fishing - no point in wasting time trying to untangle your line when the fish are biting!
- Have a bucket of sea water handy & drop the tangled mess into it fully. The static electricity created by the tangle will dissipate & the water takes the stress out of the nylon
- When next replacing your line, use a slightly heavier breaking strain next time
- When fishing with kids, don't expect to do much of your own fishing - they will keep you fully occupied!
Greg James has caught many big reds in his time & would like to pass on his tips as follows:
- Local knowledge is best, so contact professionals like Greg (via his website).
- Greg James is always on the water fishing at least one hour before dawn.
- Greg James runs two types of rigs, regardless of the tide:
- A medium sized hook with small or no sinker & a big piece of cheesy squid
- A heavier set-up with the sinker either close or on the bottom using fish pieces, usually pilchards (mulies) and/or squid pieces
- If using a rod & reel, set the drag at 2kg or more
- Always (always!) use fresh bait – pilchards, squid, red mullet, Mr Ruffs in that order
- Oyster shells mixed with burley make the best ground bait by a long way
- If there are other boats already fishing, don’t join the mob, anchor down tide & use your burley to cunningly draw the fish to you!
- Snapper are not always caught in the deepest water – I have a spots where the water is less than 8 feet deep!
Here are Greg James' latest tips:
How does Greg James always seem to manage a couple of those monster KG whiting over 60cms when out fishing? Ha! Bait your lower hook with the standard cockle below the sinker &....use a largish piece of big squashy, cheesy squid on a larger gauge hook on the top hook. Drop off the line tightness for a few moments & you might well surprise yourself!
The snook season is fast approaching & I reckon the best lure is the tough, white snook flotation bladder in the stomach of the fish itself! Yes – gut the snook & at the very top/bottom of the stomach is a long, white sinewy and narrow flotation bladder. Works when others won't................
This tip has moved! Click here to go to its new location.
Want to know how to prevent all those pesky loops & coils when running new line on to your fishing reel from the spool? Easy....drop the spool into a bucket of water & slowly reel it on to the fishing reel. Plastic is a derivative of the nylon/plastics/petroleum industry & carries its own electricity, which is what makes it coil so ferociously at times
Grab one of those hand-held nets and approach the fish from the head first. Use the rod to ‘steer' the action until the fish is near the boat & in a smooth un-rushed motion do the business – works for me on the big reds as I am often fishing in deep water on my Pat Malone
Some ice & sea water in a ‘slurry' to keep the fish fresh while out on a hot day. I also use:
a wet hessian bag (old sugar bags are excellent)
re-used plastic bottles with frozen water sealed inside
Try cleating your rope and let out maybe 30 metres – then circle anti-clockwise in a fullish circle type motion, nice & slow. Most modern rope is machine-made & coiled in a clockwise method, which when couplds with the rocking boat, draws your anchor in tighter against the reef as you fish.
Having trouble holding your berley in fast running tides? Try mixing it overnight in a bucket of wet beach sand and spoon it into the water, either from the jetty or the boat. The weight of the sand will ensure the berley stays closer to your boat and keeps the fish in the general area.
If you are being plagued by smaller fish taking soft baits (cockle, worms etc) change to a slightly larger hook and switch baits to squid or fish flesh. This will tend to attract the larger fish & keep your baits safer from the babies!
You don't need to spend large sums of money on the smoking chips from stores. Find some platypus or sugar gums and collect the twigs (the bigger the better!) from the ground beneath the trees, soak them for 5-6 hrs min in a bucket of water, add to your coals and voila! The taste is sensational!
Tight Lines & please return each week for another free Greg James Hot Fishing Tip!