BEST BAITS: Green weed, cabbage weed, sometimes yabbies or worms.
Here we have a fish whose feeding habits differ greatly from other species mentioned. A small mouthed, weed-eating fish, which must be taken with a slender hold, on a small hook, after a very wary bite. Add to this, they are one of the greatest light gear fighters for size, and it can be seen that skill and thought are needed.
As the premier method used is float fishing, and it is preferable to have your line from rod tip to float, out of, or on top of the water, heavy lines are out. .30 mm will do, but if your ability lets you, use .25 mm.
To enable you to regularly change the depth of your rig ( as gear which is quickly adjustable helps you locate the fish) your float is left running on the line, and the depth of fishing is set, by a wool or nylon tie on the line above it. Many anglers favour a 5 mm piece of plastic tubing or valve rubber, through which the line is passed twice from the same end. The free running float gives a compact rig which can be cast well back into the tide, where the weight of the sinker and bait will pull the line through the float until the stop is reached. The weight then stands the float upright with the stem above the water.
The size of the float depends on the turbulence of water, but in calm conditions the fine pencil type float is used. Your rig below the float is firstly a small No. 10 swivel, which will successfully eliminate line twist below a free running float. (Should the angler prefer a float, fixed to the line at a given depth, the swivel must then be placed on the line above the float.) Then a trace of .25 line ( clear if possible ) attached to which is a small No. 8 to No. 10 hook. The amount of weight used should be just sufficient to make the trace hang straight down, weighting the float until it is running with only 25 mm tip above the water. The lead used is No. 00 split shot, sufficient pieces of which are clamped to the trace until the desired effect is realized. The float must go down with the bite, not have to be pulled down. The bottom split shot is usually kept at least 22 cm above the hook, unless it is desired to sink the bait quickly to dodge unwanted butterfish, tarwhine, etc.
The best bait for the estuary is Alga weed, sometimes called Moss or Greenweed, which is plaited a few times around the hook shank, and trail of 15 mm is left below the hook. As this weed swells in water it pays not to overbait. The Ulva weed (sea cabbage ) also produces some fish in the estuary particularly if the smaller new growth leaves are used. Sometimes Black fish will take yabbies, prawns and worms, but this is not their regular diet, as they are a herbivorous fish and their natural food is weed.
To keep fish active in your area it is necessary to have a good supply of burley, made from 1/2 loaf soaked bread, 2 handfuls of Bran and some finely chopped moss. Mix with sand and in a running tide, select sand with a fair deposit of mud. Feed small squeezed lumps into the water slightly up-tide. Remember that indiscriminate use of burley can have an undesirable effect on your fishing.
Your method of fishing is firstly to determine the depth. When your bait touches bottom, the float will lie sideways. Alter your float stop and start trying with bait just clearing the bottom. If you get no result, lift your bait up a foot and so on. At times they come on 1 metre above the bottom.
Your rod is held up to cushion line, but a difference occurs when winding and leaning on the weight of the fish. Your "strike" if it could be called that, is made with the rod laid slightly sideways against the way the float and fish are traveling. Always allow your float to go well down before attempting to hook the fish. Take your time, let him bounce around for a while, keeping his weight on your rod tip. He will tire but until he does, you will experience a thrill in Luderick that does not always exist in other types of fishing. To protect your light line, lift the fish from the water with a landing net.
Luderick spots in the estuary are fairly constant and can often be learned just by asking. The areas to explore would be deep water banks where there would be sunken timber, rocky reefs, sunken hulls, or similar obstructions underwater. Around the piles of bridges and jetties is another haunt. Along rock walls, particularly where deep water holes, or changing wall formation have caused a tide to eddy or swirl, can give an area to fish successfully at all stages of a tide.
The fish dislike clear sunlit water, a cloudy day with the water slightly discoloured brings the best fishing. The last two hours of the ebb tide and the first hour of the flood tide, particularly if occurring around dawn or dusk, are the conditions most sought.