Fishing and Luna Cycles

Posted on April 25th, 2016 by The Bloke

Some years back, I was listening to a live talk from the famous Australian fishing personality and TV presenter Steve Starling at the Mandurah Boat, Dive & Fishing show. I’ve always found Starlo to be pretty good value and enjoyed reading his book, “Blokes and Tackle“.

On this occasion towards the end of the audience question time, someone asked him what he thought about the theorised effect of Luna (moon) cycles on fishing. This is a subject which had been doing the rounds in Australian fishing magazines at the time, and the jury was still out. Steve’s answer was along the lines that he didn’t know for sure what the effect might be, but that it was something worth keeping in mind – all else being equal – in your fishing diary.

I appreciate Steve Starling’s trademark lack of bulldust in his answer – along the lines of “sure keep that in mind, but I don’t claim to be an authority on the subject”.

Of course, I’ve long since lost the fishing diary I used to keep at the time, but doubt I could match the tenacious attention to detail that a teenager shows for a new hobby they’ve latched onto. Personally, I really like this fishing diary format from Nick Simonson (which includes a pictorial for your Luna Cycle info):

Fishing Diary Page


First Fishing Rod

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by The Bloke

I still have the first fishing rod I ever owned – not just for sentimentality mind you, but because it has actually been the best.

I was 16 years old when I acquired the first fishing rod of my very own. Half my life ago now. It was 6 foot two-piece rod with a simple spinner reel – a Jarvis Walker 6″ spinner combo. I can’t remember whether it was a Christmas or birthday gift, but what a versatile and capable fishing rod this turned out to be!

An ideal size for pier fishing (or jetty fishing as we call it back west), a six footer is not too unwieldy for a teenager or beginner, and is convenient for travelling with locally. I’ve had more success with this simple rod than with all of my other, often more expensive rigs. My first fish caught with the Jarvis Walker combo was a handsome chopper Tailor at the old Bicton Jetty in Western Australia. The rod being reasonably light, it’s great fun to reel in smaller pelagic species like Tailor – a close cousin of the American Bluefish – since you feel the fighting style of the fish more accurately. I used the same rod & reel almost every weekend for years, landing Striped Trumpeter off the rocks at Fremantle, Tailor in the Swan River around Bicton, Point Walter and Blackwall Reach, until it finally met its match in Lancelin.

Ah yes, the beast that managed to break my first rod. Let me set you the scene for you here, folks.

Lancelin JettyAbout an hour north of Perth is the seaside town of Lancelin, famed for its recreational and commercial fishing, white sand dunes and dune buggies. A popular holiday town. I was  angling off a prime spot at the end of the famous Lancelin Jetty. A steady stream of people on holiday were coming and going along the jetty, but not fishing. The water was crystal clear, without a cloud in the sky, and I wore my polarised sunglasses for a better view of any movement below the surface. The fish didn’t stand a chance. So I thought.

Suddenly I felt the first bite of the day – and what a bite that was. This thing fought like mad, as it pulled one way and then the other. Then all of a sudden as it darted in the opposite direction once more, the guide on the end of the rod loudly snapped off, leaving me with just four guides as I reeled the beast in on my crippled equipment. To my bewilderment, this vicious monster turned out to be a regular sized Leatherjacket – hardly a trophy worthy of Hemmingway. I guess I hadn’t been taking the best care of my fishing rod up until that point, and it had taken a fair amount of abuse, but this fish was a real livewire in its own right. I filleted and cleaned the Leatherjacket – quite an easy task with this species – then put it on ice in my esky, where it awaited my extremely grateful cat when got home.

I’ll never forget a certain laid back dude taking a stroll along the jetty who remarked about my broken fishing rod, “That’s how you know you’ve got a fish!”

“Yeah…” was all I could reply, with my foot firmly on the lid of the small esky that housed the culprit.

After a minor repair job back home, the trusty old Jarvis Walker was back in action. Some people will tell you that you need a fancier overhead “baitcaster” or something with six ballbearings for a perfectly smooth reeling action, though I can’t help but wonder if the slightly more jittery action of the simpler, old fashioned kind of reel more naturally mimics the movement of bait-fish through the water. The difference in my rate of success with that old Jarvis Walker 6″ spinner compared to my more expensive rod collection is downright uncanny. You may be able to spend big bucks on a rod & reel combo with higher specs and fancier gadgetry, but all these years later I like to stick with the first rod I ever owned.


Keeping a Fishing Diary

Posted on December 29th, 2012 by The Bloke

If you regularly fish the same spot, a good practice is to keep a fishing diary. The purpose of this is to keep track of local weather and related conditions along with the number and type of fish caught on each outing, in order to deduce a pattern over time. For example, your diary’s accumulated data may indicate that you will have better results when the weather is a certain temperature, or after a heavy rain, or when the waterway matches certain conditions.

I was keeping my own fishing diary for some time when I visited Perth’s “Blackwall Reach” on the Swan River each weekend. Eventually this became a futile effort as that neck of the river gradually became overrun with seaweed and blowfish, but a fishing diary can prove useful for the dedicated angler.

My fishing diary had rows for the fishing dates, and column headings such as “Bait Type”, “Temperature”, “Cloud Cover”, “Wind Conditions”, “Water Clarity”, “Species of Fish Caught”, “Number of Fish Caught”, etc. You may think of other factors you would like to keep track of, in order to optimise your chances of success in the long term.

Blowfish

I care not for your angling pass-time! This is my town!

Free Fishing Bait – Mussels

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by The Bloke

One of the purposes of fishing has always been to procure your own supply of fresh food at no cost. This is partially defeated if you have to purchase bait or lures. With that in mind, I thought I’d share some advice on how to obtain some fresh bait at no cost and minimal effort.

If you have ever looked at the pylons of a jetty (or “pier”), you will have noticed that they are covered in small shellfish called mussels. Whilst it isn’t recommended that you eat them yourself – as they accumulate heavy metals from the constant water traffic that they are exposed to in such a location – they make excellent fresh bait, provided you know how to gather them off the pylon.

This is where we use a little ingenuity to create a tool to remove and gather the mussels from the pylon:

1) Take an old nail rake (or better yet, a slightly more hardcore curved-teeth variant called a bow rake – pictured below)

2) Cut a section of chicken wire (pictured below) about one-and-a-half times the width of the rake

Both of these items can usually be scrounged from somewhere at no cost whatsoever, or at worst might cost you the equivalent of a packet of bait at a garage sale or swapmarket.

Now, you will want to fashion the chicken wire around the back of the nail rake in a basket shape. You may need a short length of wire to fasten the chicken wire basket onto the rake handle. If you have a bow rake of the type pictured above, this job will be easier. Your finished bait rake will resemble – if not aesthetically, at least functionally – the commercial bait rake pictured below, which sell for around $75:

This is a very handy tool to keep in the shed or the boot of the car. When you scrape the mussels off of a pylon using your bait rake, the mussels will be collected in the wire basket. You are then free to pry them out with an oyster knife, break the shells open with your favourite blunt object, or simply boil them open to obtain the fresh bait inside that fish will absolutely love.

If you’re a regular jetty fisherman or you fish around rocks that have plenty of shellfish on the submerged section, you will never be short of abundant free bait on your next fishing trip.

Gulp Lures

Posted on November 26th, 2012 by The Bloke

I’m not usually a big fan of fishing lures, but I do like to keep a packet of “Gulp” handy in my tackle box. These are a soft plastic lure that’s impregnated with a fish scent. They look quite realistic.

A quick word of advice, mind you – although Gulp lures come in a resealable zip-lock bag, I’ve found that they still dry out easily. Once they’ve dried out, it doesn’t seem to matter how long you soak them in water, they will be solid as wood and you won’t be able to get a hook through them. In future I’ll be buying a few smaller packets to have on hand.

I can still unhesitatingly recommend keeping a pack of Gulp lures handy because they are the next best thing to real bait – and if you’re anything like me, you never know what time of day or night or how far from civilisation you might find yourself the next time you get the urge to cast a line in.