Sport Other Sports Where to catch a fish this Anzac Day weekend

Where to catch a fish this Anzac Day weekend

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We understand. The days are getting cooler, and the footy has just started again. You’re close to packing away the golf clubs for the winter and settling in for the football season.

But you have a job to do: the kids want to fish. Now. And you, dear friend, will take them.

Trust me, the kids will get a bigger kick out of it if you actually have some idea of what you are doing and put them onto a fish or two.

Hungry giant cat pulls shark from ocean
Man-eater on a hand-line, but no fine

Luckily, your correspondent has braved the barren and cold autumns at all these locations to bring you these guarantees. If you fish on Anzac Day, in these locations, with the right baits, the kids’ll think you’re Malcolm Douglas rather than Ned Flanders.

Starting with:

Luderick near the Windang Bridge, Wollongong:

The northern end of this bridge, on the western side.

If you have never caught a luderick you have missed one of the joys of a fisherman’s life. The fight it out deep and they never give up. Half a dozen of these in a session will burn into the minds of your children forever.

Luderick always turn up around Anzac Day in Lake Illawarra, Wollongong, with the hot spots being both ends of the bridge. Not on the actual bridge, but at two locations at both ends where the fish congregate. You won’t need to look too hard, you’ll know when they are on because you will stand shoulder to shoulder with other fisherman.

You will need:

1: A long, soft-tipped rod around 7-8 feet long, matched with a light reel and light line (the sort of rod and reel combo you’d use for bream and whiting).

2: A quill float. This type of float half-sinks into the water and will register even the slightest touch from a luderick. Float fishing gives the kids a good visual way of fishing and it eliminates some tangles. See here for how to create this rig.

3: Weed bait. You will need quality weed bait in season from a decent bait and tackle store. Luckily there is Windang Bait and Tackle on the northern side of the bridge who stock weed. You need to get organised around this type of bait; few tackle shops have it and it flies out the door when it arrives. Luderick, or blackfish as they are called in NSW, will bite of worm baits, but you’ll only get the odd one that way.

Re-cap: Anzac Day weekend, Lake Illawarra northern end of the bridge (left-side), and left-side of the southern end will have fish by then. High tide 2pm, so fish from about 11am through the high tide.

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2: Big tailor, Kalbarri, WA 

Some of you will spend eight hours travelling to eat a soggy pie and watch a game of football, so don’t tell me you can’t hit Kalbarri in WA, especially when I’m promising some of the biggest tailor in the country, every time you turn up there, even all-year round.

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The author with a haul of Kalbarri tailor.

The tailor here will pull 20m of line from your reel, slug it out in the channel, leap for the skies and they make the tailor most fisherman in the southern states catch look like minnows. We are talking serious tailor on serious tackle. And they are amazing to eat.

You will need:

1: A decent quality surf rod, around 10 feet long matched with a quality spinning reel.

2: Fresh thawed sea garfish, preferably from the Kalbarri and Dive and Tackle Centre (hello, Deano). You will need at least 24 of these for a two-hour session between two of you.

3: Ganged 5 or 6-0 hooks on a strong leader of between 40 and 60 pounds.

4: Reef booties and a headlight.

What to do: Park at Chinamen’s Beach and instead of walking to the river, walk over to the ocean side and down to the rivermouth. See that churning whitewater directly out to sea? You are going to cast your ganged garfish into the surf and slowly retrieve it. You will cast it again if your arms are not now stretched at a 45 degree angle and your line is screaming from your reel.

Re-cap: You must be there no earlier than the last 90 minutes of daylight. They bite well into the night and you’ll probably run out of bait. They go crazy in the winter, which means Anzac Day is as good a guarantee as you’ll get. Tides don’t matter, they are always hungry.

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3: Salmon run, south-west WA

The annual autumn salmon run in south-west WA is a given. So much so, that you need to get in early to secure a spot on the beach.

And when you do, you will marvel at the sight of schools of massive Australian salmon rounding the point at Eagle Bay and Bunker Bay – line after line hooking up as the school moves down the point. It’s not uncommon for a dozen or more fishermen to hook up at the same time.

And, like all things West Australian, these fish are bruisers, powerful, fighting machines that will test every knot and hook you own. One of life’s rare, reliable treats.

Yes, that’s an average-sized winter salmon for WA

You will need:

1: A decent quality surf rod, around 10 feet long matched with a quality spinning reel.

2: WA pilchard baits on ganged hooks, under a bubble float.

3: Spatial awareness: you will be fighting every fish in the tight confines of shoulder-to-shoulder fishing. So everything you do: how you cast, where you cast, your awareness of others, how loud you gasp when you land a beauty, will all be in judgment. Be respectful and you’ll have a trip of a lifetime.

Re-cap: As we said, Anzac Day, be there and have your mind blown. Grab a spot at Eagle Bay or Bunker Bay from about 7am, or you’ll get the dregs and watch in utter amazement as everyone gets a hit – except you.

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4: Squid, Ventnor Beach, Victoria

Big, predatory fish eat squid like jellybeans. And so do humans. If you want to catch a lot of whiting, snapper and gummy sharks in Westernport Bay, you’d better get good at catching squid: the heads make great snapper bait, the wings are tenderised for whiting baits and the tube is great for human consumption.

You will need:

This traditional rig …
… not this Yozuri model.


1: A decent quality surf rod, around 10 feet long matched with a quality spinning reel.

2: A beach rod holder. You can make good ones using PVC piping cut-offs.

3: A squid jig. And I don’t mean the Yozuri types – which are great – but because I am committed to a virtual guarantee, I will ask that you buy whole silver whiting, or flesh baits like whole wrasse, pilchards etc ans rig them using the old school jigs (left). Big squid like flesh they can smell, and that’s why the traditional jig works best.

4: A bubble float.

Tip: Fish the last hour of the run-in tide and the first hour of the run out. This works especially well during the dusk and into the first hour of night. Basically, throw the whole thing into the ocean, wait for a squid to commit suicide and have a cup of tea in the meantime.

Re-cap: This is the weakest of my guarantees, but it’s still close to a sure thing.


5: Blackfish in the Gold Coast Seaway

I know, I’ve already mentioned luderick earlier in the article. But the best sessions on the biggest blackfish I have ever had were at the Gold Coast seaway, again on weed baits which is easily sourced on the Gold Coast, especially the bait and tackle shop on Gold Coast Highway, Labrador.

Blackies will give you the bends.

Re-cap: High tide is 1.49pm on Anzac Day. Fish close to the rocks from 11am. See the photo (right). The fish will hold not much further than the green water (sand). Cast into that area.

Let us know how you go: these are big calls, but I have definitely caught fish at all these locations on Anzac Day through the years, making me wonder if it’s actually the best day of fishing throughout the country.

Send your photos, stories, and reports back to me at Or email me if you need more specific information.





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