Well this has come out of the blue fairly quickly for me. About a month ago I hadn’t caught a Blackfish on fly and by now I would have easily knocked up a decent cricket score on fly. I have known of blackfish taking flies but never seen it done or had much idea of how it was normally done. Most of what follows is simply what has worked for me. Admittedly this has all been done in the one spot but straight away it brings to mind a whole bunch of other spots I think this should work just the same.
I had been fishing the good run of Blackfish down here with fresh weed bait for a few weeks and getting a decent feed when another local angler came down and started catching just as many fish as me using a fly instead of bait fish on the same float rig you would use for bait. Tis immediately piqued my interest as it meant I could fish without searching for bait beforehand. We had a bit of a chat, he told me where he got the flies and gave me a battered old one as an example. Now my downfall as a blackfish angler has always been hooking the damn things. I know the rig, I know the technique, but I miss far more fish than I hook. I straight away thought that my hookup rate might be better on a straight fly rod set up.
The next couple of sessions saw medium success with me standing on the rocks making awkward back casts upwards. Getting sick of hooking the bushes behind me was probably the best thing ever to happen. I put on my Trout waders, grabbed my Trout rod and went out and started fishing like they were Trout taking nymphs. Straight away my catch rate sky rocketed.
So here it is: the rig is simply a leader tipped with 4 or 6 lb tied to the fly with one or two very small split shots to get the fly to sink about 15 centimetres above the fly and most important of all a floating strike indicator (the best ones I have found so far are the sticky ones you fold over) attached at the top of the leader. At first I was using a sliding strike indicator and trying to set it to a depth like you would a regular float but after a while I realised I didn’t need to and with the sticky ones not being adjustable just stuck it at the top. The rig is as easy as that. The gear has not made much difference. I started out with a 7wt and a nine foot rod but quickly downsized for maximum fun and have been getting them on a 4wt, 6’10” “twig”. Just make sure it has a decent drag as they do pull some string in short bursts.
All common knowledge says to fish for Blackfish on the run out tide but for me it has been the first of the run in tide. This system is a small creek with a sand entrance and after doing this for a while now it reminds me of places like Narrabeen Lake, Sussex inlet or any other sand entranced system that holds Blackfish. Narrabeen Lake particularly came to mind because you see plenty of old Blackfish anglers near the front there standing in waders on the sand bank fishing into the the deep hole and thats exactly what I have been doing. I feel like the Blackfish are lined up for the first of that run in tide to bring food to them from the sea or off the sand flat. The idea is to stand perpendicular to the current and cast 45 degrees or so up current and have the fly waft down current naturally. Usually by the time the fly is level with you it should be at the right depth and between there and 45 degrees down current is when you get the bight. It is a case of watching the strike indicator and it will start to pull away from you across the current and sometimes down and away under the water. Then simply set the hook.
The guy is a bit over eager but this vid will give you some sort of idea of what I mean. Just swap the nymph for a weed fly and the yarn indicator for a foam one.
You simply work a “run” like you might for Trout. Five or ten casts trying to have that fly drift down as natural as possible and then work another section. The flies are pretty simple and easily found online or tied yourself. For me the bight green has been outfishing the darker olive colour but that might just be where I am. The most exciting part of this for me is that although what I am describing is in relation to a specific spot I really think it will work in a lot of different places.