Legal Length: 27cm
Bag Limit: 20
Habitat: Rocky headlands, coastal rivers and estuary systems.
Good baits: Marine weeds (green weed and cabbage), bread, cunjevoi and marine worms.
© State of New South Wales through Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services.
Fishing for Luderick or Rock Blackfish (Drummer)
The following information is kindly shared by Tuross Fishing Club member, Merv Roberts, who has specialised in Luderick fishing for many years...
Luderick (or Blackfish) are available locally for about eight months of the year. They start to congregate around the rocky headlands and the entrance to Tuross from mid October each year as they commence their spawning run moving into the estuaries. Good size fish are still plentiful up until March and sometimes longer depending on conditions. They look for safe locations to breed and feed so a rough bottom or an adjacent rock or reef where weed is growing would be a good spot to fish as they have protection and a food supply.
The main tips are to be patient, be very observant, fish at various depths until you get bites, burley and use good fresh bait such as weed or cabbage and fish the right tide when there is not too much of a tidal run.
Long-standing Tuross Head Fishing Club member, Merv Roberts shares his tips for successful luderick fishing.
Long stringy green weed is a good choice and is collected from the estuaries while cabbage weed is collected from the ocean rocks at low tide therefore caution is needed. In winter, weed is difficult to find so check out the local drains, golf course and similar locations. It is not uncommon to catch a Drummer while fishing for Luderick especially when fishing the ocean rocks or break walls as they also are attracted to similar baits. Drummers are dirty fighters and unless you have heavier lines you will often get busted off and most likely lose you float! At different times of the year Luderick will take nippers and worms. The weed or cabbage needs to be twisted around the hook starting above the eye of the hook and finishing about two centimetres or one inch below the hook, this is known as the “tail”. You usually need a tail, as this is the part the fish nibbles at before taking the complete bait. Check the “tail” regularly.
Cabbage weed will not last as long as the long green stringier weed so only pick what you need for your days fishing. It is the preferred weed for the front section of the Tuross Lake area. The long green weed will keep for a number of days if stored in a cool place in a damp hessian bag.
Cabbage weed and green weed are favoured by Tuross Head blackfish.
Luderick are caught using a long rod, about 10 – 12 feet is preferred. There is no leading or casting on the rod as the casts are short and line is fed off the reel slowly as the float drifts away.
The float needs to be accurately weighted to reduce the resistance when it is pulled under the water, which indicates a fish strike. Count to three, then strike! Practice makes perfect! Merv makes his own floats and he places a little bit of sheet lead around the stem of his float. This ensures the float stands vertically quickly and you are ready for the next bite especially if the fish are active. Smaller pencil floats are often used in the quite estuary areas while larger heavier floats are used off the rocks as they are easier to cast with the added weight.
Merv recommends a 10lb main line and a 6lb trace for Luderick fishing with a slightly stronger line for Drummer fishing. The lines are joined using a small swivel with the float above the swivel. Merv uses a little stopper between the swivel and float, which seems to act as a shock absorber, it is plastic and looks like it came off thin electrical cable. If you catch the bottom or get snagged hopefully the 6lb line will break and you won’t lose you float. A very strong but thin fluorocarbon line (dogtooth brand) makes a good trace as the line is difficult to see in the water.
A good tip is to apply Vaseline to the main line as this will ensure the line floats on the surface, which reduces the resistance when it is time to strike. Keep the minimum amount of line out between the rod tip and the float because when it is time to strike you don’t want too much slack line to retrieve otherwise your strike is likely to be too late and ineffective. The trace line has various pieces of split lead or sheet lead attached to sink your float, so only the top of the stem is visible. This is painted bright red or fluoro colour for easy visibility. Various leaders are used for different conditions. When fish are touchy, slide the lead away from the hook or further up the line.
Merv Roberts runs through the fundamentals of a blackfishing rod.
When fishing break walls a heavier lead closer to the hook is needed to get down quickly and all this will come with experience.
A stopper needs to be attached to your main line, this is adjustable to enable various depths to be fished. Stoppers can be purchased or just tie a piece of wool on your line using a figure eight knot, pull tight and trim off as this needs to pass through the rod runners.
Merv prefers the traditional centre pin reel as the line can be feed off easily and if there is a need to strike quickly, just place you finger against the side of the spool. No mucking around with bail arms.
Sizes between No 6 to 10 are preferred with size 8 preferred by Merv.
Merv prefers the run out tide. The last few hours are good as the current slows down and the float drifts slowly. The water is a little dirty and the fish should not be so shy and more willing to take bait. The last hour or so leading up to high tide is also a good time to try as the fish have access to a food source -especially around the rocks.
This is essential. Collect half a bucket of sand and mix up finely cut green weed or cabbage. Make a moist but firm mix. This can be formed into balls in the palm of your hand and cast into the water close to you float. Don’t overdo it as you want the fish to feed on your bait but the burley will attract the fish and bring them on the chew!
Preparation and cooking:
Christine’s advice is to clean you fish and place in the fridge over night, this sets the fish flesh and makes it easier to fillet and de-bone. Skin each fillet, place in plastic bags with the date fish were caught then freeze if you don’t want to eat them immediately. Christen prefers to keep it simple and prepares the fillets in egg and breadcrumbs and will cook in a pan with a small amount of vegetable oil until light brown. She uses the older packs for fish rissoles! Sounds great!
Success! David Rothwell pins a luderick.
When fishing the ocean rocks please take extreme care. Each year there are a number of fishers who drown from rocking fishing. Make sure you don’t collect bait or fish alone, take time to look for a safe location if you don’t know the area well, watch the sea for some time before approaching the rocks, fish the last few hours of the falling tide, wear an inflatable life jacket and wear light clothes and good footwear including cleats if a good grip is needed. Take a mobile phone and tell someone where you are and when you will be back.
Luderick – has a minimum size limit of 27cm and a bag limit of 20. The bands of vertical lines, small head and mouth easily identify them. Rock Blackfish (or Drummer) have a size limit of 30cm and a bag limit of 10.
John Suthern managed a blackfish following a little tuition.