Beginners Guide to Australian Sportsfish: Pelagic Pointers


Whether it is bait balls, buoys or pylons, sight fishing for pelagics like Australian Salmon, Kingfish and Bonito can be a lot of fun and is also a great way to get kids or friends and family who don’t fish so often onto a few fish. Seeing schools busting up balls of bait is an awesome sight. To think of it on a macro level, it’s amazing that of all the area in the water, predatory fish still manage to round up bait for a feeding frenzy. On a more personal level, actively feeding fish with very little regard for anything else can account for some pretty exciting fishing. Despite their sole focus of feeding, the fish can still be easily spooked or finicky to tempt.  Without looking at specific techniques, here are a few things that may help you hook a fish or two.

Justin Kingfish release

–          As Vicki likes to say, “Keep your eyes peeled”. Whether you’re driving around or working an area you want to watch out for signs of activity like:

  • Fish busting up the surface of the water
  • Birds circling and feeding from the scraps
  • Bait activity on the sounder

–          Reel – I like to use a reel with a high gear ratio (6.2:1). The high ratio means that for every crank of the reel handle I am retrieving 30-40% more line than a standard reel and gives me the ability to maintain the fast retrieve often required to ‘burn’ the lure across the surface.

Greg with a nice Pittwater Salmon

Greg with a nice Pittwater Salmon. Image Credit: Justin Duggan.

–          Approach with caution – Busting bait balls or pylons and floating buoys, it’s important to approach slowly. In the heat of the moment the anticipation often makes you want to get up and fishing as soon as possible. The truth is, they have probably been feeding in the area for a while and will more than likely keep on doing so. If you can:

  • Approach up-wind or up-current so that you can drift towards the fish or structure that you are fishing.
  • Don’t make a heap of noise while moving around the boat. Get your rod and gear ready as you approach so there is less chance of spooking any fish and sending them deep when you’re actually in the zone.
  • If another boat or boats decide to drive right up and over the fish or structure, move on and come back at a later date. Chances are that they will spook the fish sending them running (or swimming).

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