Doing It In the Dark – Nocturnal Seaway Fishing
Fishing the Seaway between Sunset and Sunrise can yield some excellent fishing for those who put in the effort, but just like fishing the seaway during the day, its all about where, when and how. This article will go into detail about the locations, timing, techniques and species that can be encountered fishing the seaway during the hours of darkness.
Firstly, your safety is paramount. While the area west of the pipeline is safe in all conditions, the area east of the pipeline out to the ends of the walls should only be fished at night by those with a long history of fishing the seaway during the day. In this area, tides, swell direction and wind strength all play a part in whether it is safe to fish. Unless you know how each of these factors affect the area's around the ends of the walls, then they should be avoided.
You should also be aware of other boats moving around, some boats are not adequately lit and night and it is easy to run into another boat if you are not paying attention.
All boats moving around after sunset are required to have a red/green forward facing set of lights PLUS an all round white light that cannot be blocked by anything. Water police do check these. If you are anchored then you are required to have an all-round white light. Your night vision is super important at night, if you have LED red/green lights then you should place some white tape over them to dull the output. You can also do this to your allround white if it is too bright. In cabin/gunnel LED lights are not recommended as these will destroy your night vision.
A decent headlight is recommended as this will enable you to see what is going on right in front of you, whether that be tying a knot, changing lures or netting a fish. I have tried most brands and few are capable of handing the constant exposure to salt water. The Black Diamond Storm is the only headlight I recommend at this time.
East of the Pipeline.
The North Wall
The North Wall at night can yield alot of fish if the conditions are right. Species likely to be caught at night off the North Wall include Bigeye Trevally, Mulloway, Hairtail and Tarpon. Edge fishing along the wall yields Bigeye, Hairtail and Tarpon, while letting your lure sink down closer to the bottom will pick up Mulloway. The most important area's for night fishing the North Wall are; the North Wall Flats Dropoff, The Eddy, Hairtail Reach and the Line. See the North Wall map for these.
The North Wall Flats Dropoff usually holds Bigeye Trevally in season(October through March) at night. These fish can usually be caught with poppers, with plastics or by trolling minnows like the Rapala XR10 or Flash 25 but any minnow that dives to 2-3 metres would work. Occasionally Tailor will show up along here as well.
The Eddy holds fish on a run-in tide, Bigeye's, Tarpon, Mulloway and Hairtail are all possible. Plastics on 1/2oz jigheads work the best, as you need to get it deep. As for the plastic anything around the 5-8cm mark is fine. Ecogear Grass Minnows, Squidgy Slick rigs in 65 or 80mm, ZMan Curl Tails or Pearl Sliders are all proven performers. You can cast at the wall, give it a few winds then giving the lure a bit of time to sink down deep in the water column. A slow steady retrieve works best with a few pauses, keep it slow all the way to the boat as the sometimes the fish will grab it within a couple of metres. Getting snagged is common as the entire bottom is covered in rocks.
Hairtail Reach (see map 3)only fishes well on a run-in tide, the way the tide runs in causes an eddy along this stretch of the wall and species that don't like strong tidal flows will sit in here at night. As the name suggests Hairtail like the area alot, as do Tarpon, Bigeyes and Mulloway. The best method of fishing this area is with plastics on 3/8 oz jigheads, you can go to 1/2oz if you are fishing away from the wall. Cast it at the wall and slowly wind it back to the boat with a few pauses. Poppers can also work along here if bigeyes are active. You can also troll minnows like the XRD10 & Bolt Omega along here. Eagle Ray's are also an accidental catch along here, you'll know it if you hook one of those.
The Line only exists on a run-out tide but can hold Bigeye's, Tailor, Mulloway, Tarpon and Hairtail. 3/8oz and 1/2oz jighead rigged plastics work the best at night but shallow running minnows like the Rapala XR10 and Flash 25 can also get a few fish. Cast alongside the wall and let it sink down, working it slowly back to the boat as you drift out with the tide. You can also sink it to the bottom over the dropoff and drift it along bumping it near the bottom.
The Deep Hole
Due to the high tidal flow the Deep Hole only fishes well during the first and last hour of the run in tide or on the run-out tide. Bigeyes and Mulloway will sit in the deep hole at night. Mulloway will be on the bottom but schools of Bigeyes will sit midwater on the edge of the deep hole. These Bigeyes can be trolled with diving minnows like the XRD10 and Bolt Omega, or Plastics on 1/2oz jigheads, or by dropping a heavy metal like a 30gram twistie down into the school and jigging it back up. Mulloway require plastics, livebaits or dead baits fished near the bottom.
The South Wall
The South Wall is an erratic place to fish, sometimes it can yield some excellent catches, most times it's a ghost town. Tarpon, Mulloway, Bigeye's and Hairtail can all be caught along the South Wall. At night I find it fishes the best on a run-out tide and the area from the tip of the wall to 100m in is the most consistent. Casting plastics on 1/2oz jigheads parallel to the wall letting them sink then slowly retrieving them with plenty of pauses seems to work the best as the water along the south wall is quite deep up to 14 metres in some places.. On run-in tides keep an ear out for bigeye trevally feeding along the wall particularly along the stretch from the pipeline to the tree line as sometime large schools can get along there and some excellent fishing with poppers can result.
West of the Pipeline
You can anchor up on the pipeline if you are fishing dead or livebaits but if you prefer a more active way of fishing the Pipeline you can drift over it with the tide. Plastics like the Gulp 7" Jerk Shad will pick up Mulloway near the top and bottom of the tides as the tide is slowing much the same as they will during the day. Bigeye Trevally can be found around the Pipeline feeding on the surface, sometimes on a run-in tide but more often about an hour after the tide turns to run-out. You can also troll around the Pipeline with deep diving lures like the XRD10 or Bolt Omega. If they are busting up on the surface you can use poppers like the Rapala Skitter Pop 9 or Flash Pop 8, accuracy matters so try and get that popper into the bustups as soon as possible. Shallow running minnows like the Flash 15, 25 or Rapala XR10 will also work cast near the bustups. Over to either side of the pipeline in the shallower slower moving areas, Hairtail and Tarpon are possible on 3/8th oz rigged plastics. If you anchor in these areas you can also pick up some Hairtail on dead baits.
The Canyon and North Wavebreak Rock Wall
Mulloway can be picked up in the Canyon on Plastics, livebaits or dead baits when the tide begins to slow. Other than that it's a hard spot to get a fish during the night. Around the end of the North Wall of Wavebreak, you can catch Bigeyes, Tarpon, Hairtail on plastics fished on 3/8th or 1/2oz jigheads, sometimes the bigeyes can be caught on poppers. The fish here seem to like the runout tide better, they will sit in the eddy just at the end of the wall or the channel leading directly south of it and grab the bait as it gets flushed out past the end of the wall. Other fish that can be caught in this area at night include Barracuda, Sharks, Mangrove Jacks and GT's.
Tarpon are covered in detail in the So You Want To Catch A Seaway Tarpon Article so refer to that for more information.
Mulloway have similar behaviour at night that they do during the day, they like slower tidal movements and area's out of the main tidal flow. The hour as the tide is slowing near the top of the tide and hour as the tide is speeding up are both excellent times for Mulloway. You will also find mulloway feeding in much shallower area's during the night as the cover of darkness makes them more confident to move into area's less than 5 metres deep. If you can find area's with lots of bait out of the main tidal flow(Hairtail Reach, the ends of both walls for example) these will usually have jewies simming around under the bait and soft plastics slowly worked underneath the bait will usually pick up a couple. Just remember that you shouldn't jig or flick your soft plastic at night, a slow steady retrieve with plenty of pauses will get you plenty of strikes as the fish will track the lure for a while before hitting it. By jigging or flicking it you can move it out of the fishes view as visibility at night is restricted to a metre or so.
In the Main channel area's (Deep hole, Pipeline, Canyon)wait for the tide to slow and you can fish with vibs or big soft plastics like the 7" Gulp Jerk Shad on 1 oz heads. If you are bait fishing, you can drift with livebaits over these area's or anchor up with deadbaits of Herring, Tailor or Mullet and wait for the fish to come to you.
Mulloway in the seaway can range from 45cm soapies up to 1.8m monsters.
Bigeye Trevally are specialised nocturnal Hunters and those big eyes give them a big advantage over and baitfish in the area. That said Bigeye's are very fussy about when they actually feed. The pipeline Bigeyes love a tide that has just turned to run-out. They will often spread out during a run-out tide sometimes feeding in the Triangle, sometimes on the 3/4 line, sometimes in the middle, sometimes on the southern side of the pipeline right down to the seaway tower. If Bigeyes are feeding quite often you will hear them before you see them. If I expect Bigeyes to be feeding, I will turn off the motor and listen for 5-10 minutes, once you hear them and you have a direction you can figure out the track they are feeding on and get over there wait for them to come up and cast into a bustup. Casting accuracy matters for these feeding fish, getting a lure within a couple of metres almost guarantees a fish.
Bigeyes can also be found along the north wall from Hairtail Reach up to the tip and along the North Wall Flats dropoff. Poppers can work if they are actively feeding on surface but they are usually caught on small plastics like the Squidy Slick Rig 70mm, Ecogear Grass Minnow M fished on 3/8oz heads. When Bigeyes sit along the North Wall Flats Dropoff you can troll them up using Rapala XRD10 & XR10, Flash 25 or any other small minnow that dives 1.5-3m. You can also pick them up on poppers here when they are active. Run-in tides are best for North Wall Bigeye Trevally.
The North Wall of Wavebreak Corner will also hold schools of Bigeyes during the night at times but these tend to be much smaller fish on average around 25-30cm, these fish respond well to small soft plastics, or small poppers. These fish prefer to feed on a run-out tide as well.
Bigeyes in the seaway can range from 20cm babies to 70+ cm fully grown adults but the average size is around 45cm.
Hairtail are a bit of an enigma, sometimes they will show in the seaway in big numbers and can be picked up on soft plastics and trolled minnows. They like slower moving tidal area's like Hairtail Reach(Run-in tide only), The ends of the walls on a run-out tide, the North Wall Eddy on a run-in tide and the end of the North Wall of Wavebreak on a run-out tide. Officially a winter species, sometimes they will show up in the middle of summer. They can also be taken on live-baits and dead baits of Pilchard, Herring and Tailor. They are an unpredictable fish but are a welcome addition to the seaway's nocturnal feeders.
Hairtail range in size from 50cm up to 1.5 metres.
Other fish that can be caught at night in the seaway include GT's, Snapper, Mangrove Jacks, Flathead, Cod, other reef species, Barracuda, Tailor, Shovelnose Sharks, Bull Sharks and Bream. Other than the Bream which can be caught on lightly weighted baits and the Bull Sharks(Large dead baits of fish or Eel), these fish are a random event and cannot be targeted successfully.
Livebaiting in the seaway at night is almost exactly the same as it it is during the day, fish the top and bottom of the tides when they begin to slow. The amount of species likely to be caught decreases and it can pick up a few of the random species like Cod and Mangrove Jacks. Mulloway are the number one species caught on livebaits at night. For more information on livebaiting read Livebaiting the Seaway - the Ultimate Edition
Livebaiting the Seaway – The Ultimate Edition
Livebaiting is a consistent method of catching large fish in the seaway, this Ultimate Edition will cover absolutely everything to know about livebaiting in the seaway and keep it in one place as an easy reference guide. Some parts have already been listed as separate articles but I have updated and integrated each one to reflect the latest information.
Hooked up to a mulloway just off the north wall
Livebaiting gear doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, all you are doing is dropping baits to the bottom and fighting the fish up to the boat. Most reasonable 4000 size spinning reels will do the job, just make sure it has a decent drag and can fit about 300m of line on it, the penn spinfisher line is affordable and reliable. You can also use overhead reels as well, I use a Daiwa LD50H overhead for my heavy livebaiting duties. You can go as heavy or as light as you want on the line but sooner or later you are going to hook a fish that will bust you off in the rocks and you are going to want heavier gear. I use 30lb for small livies like herring and go up to 50lb for big livebaits like tailor and pike, even on this gear some fish still make it back to the rocks or back to the pipe. As for rods, keep it short 6ft is ideal but you can go up to 7ft without too many problems. There is no need for high modulus (IM8+rods) in livebaiting, IM6 or even fibreglass rods will do the job. You might want to make sure you have a rod with a bit of backbone though as hooking large Whitespot Shovelnose and bull sharks is common and these require a rod with some power down low. Medium Heavy rated rods are ideal.
- Penn Spinfisher V 4500
- Daiwa Saltist 4500
- Shimano Biomaster 4000FB
- Penn Spinfisher V 6500
- Daiwa Saltist 6500
- Shimano Biomaster 6000FB
- Daiwa LD50H
- Penn Squall SQL40LD
- Shimano TLD 15
Good quality live baits are often harder to catch than the bigger fish and it can take hours to catch enough for a couple of hours fishing. This part will detail most of the livebaits that can be used, how to catch them and where you might find them. Livebaits are like any fish, they come and they go so numbers are constantly fluctuating. Always have a backup plan if you can't find any of your chosen livebait.
Pike in a Livewell
My favourite livebait and one of the biggest livebaits with an average size around 30cm. Size can be an issue, 40cm plus models are usually only taken by big fish such as metre long kingies and mulloway. Smaller fish such as Tailor and Trevally prefer the smaller models around 30cm. Pike can be caught around any of the weedbeds of the broadwater, particularly the weedbeds around Wavebreak and Crab island and the weedbeds at the mouth of Loder’s Creek & western side of South Stradbroke Island. Unfortunately between May and September these weedbeds are netted on a weekly basis by the mullet netters and pike are rare during this time. You can catch them on small minnows (rapala XR6 & XR4) & small plastics (2 inch curl tails or paddle tails)on light jigheads. Try trolling a minnow around until you find the school, then throw plastics at them. The top half of the tide is the best time to get them. Pike can be caught around bridges and lighted jetties at night using small minnows or plastics but its not something you can rely on unless you find a decent sized school that stays in the same area. Good places to look are The Broadwater Parklands Jetty, The Grand Hotel Ramp, Marina Mirage Refueling Station and Sunrise Bridge. If all else fails, trolling through the canal estates around runaway bay or around Marina Mirage with a shallow running minnow such as an Rapala XR6 can pick up a couple of large ones.
Pike can also be caught offshore on the shallow bait reefs, sometimes during the day but more often at night. You can get them on 3" Gulp minnows on 1/2 oz jigheads, small minnows attached to trolling sinkers, or large profile bait jigs. You can also catch them on any flesh baits or white pilchards. They are a different species but the fish still like them just as much, getting small ones can be a challenge though, the average size can be around 45cm. The offshore pike also require alot of water changes as the water fouls quickly so keep an eye on them to make sure you don’t lose your hard earned baits.
Yellowtail & Slimy Mackerel
Slimy Mackerel and Yellowtail in a livewell
Yellowtail & Slimies are usually only found offshore on the shallow bait reefs but sometimes you can get them around the ends of the walls. Usually caught on the 6 hook bait jigs, they can also be caught on baits of peeled prawn and any fish flesh. They are much easier to catch at dawn than during the day or at night. Most fish will eat a yellowtail or slimy mackerel and GT’s in particular have a big liking for them. Weather permitting Yellowtail are probably the easiest of the livebaits to catch, slimies are alot harder to catch and not something you can rely on. Look for the other boats east of the sand pumping jetty in 20-24m of water to find the shallow bait reefs. GPS Coordinates for the best bait reef section I know is as follows: S 27. 57 .013 E 153. 27. 000. Do a drift around that area and you will find the bait.
The first thing to remember with sea mullet is that they do have a size limit of 30cm so don’t keep any small sea mullet in your livewell. You can use small yellow eye or sand mullet though, if you can’t tell the difference better not to use them at all. Mullet are very hardy and will last forever in your livewell, they aren’t quite as good a livie as the first two but better than nothing. Mulloway and cod will still happily take a live mullet of any size, but will hold them in the mouth for a while to descale them before swallowing, the fish spitting the bait is common. For this reason, Mullet are usually a last option for me. The best chance of getting live mullet is in a cast net, try in any of the canal estates close to the seaway. You can catch sand mullet on a hook baited with bread, just berley them up in places like Loder's Creek and Biggera Creek and use a size 12 hook with a small bit of bread under a float.
Herring in a livewell
Herring can be caught around jetties and bridges, cast nets are preferred but they can also be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs. Herring are probably the most used livebait in the seaway but they do attract bream all the time which is annoying. They do catch good fish though; Tailor, Trevally and Jewies will happily eat them. Useful if you can’t catch anything else and still better than mullet. The best places to find herring are Biggera Creek Bridge, Sunrise Bridge, Sovereign and Ephraim Bridges, Occasionally in the eddies around the Wavebreak rock walls, Grand Hotel Ramp and the pontoon at The Seaworld Ramp.
Hardyheads, White pilchards & Frogmouth Pilchards
These small baitfish have limited uses in the seaway but can be useful for catching tarpon, trevally or tailor. Numbers of these fish are seasonal and tend to hang around different places every year so its pretty much as case of catch them when you find them. Most of these fish can only be caught with a cast net, but hardyheads can be berleyed up with bread and caught on bait jigs.
Squid are an ideal livie and you can catch them around lighted areas at night particularly if there is a bit of weed and rubbly bottom, such as the Broadwater Parklands Jetty, the Grand Hotel Jetty and the lighted area's near Ephraim Island. The only problem is they wont last in a livewell and die quickly so use them quick if you get them. Even as a dead bait they are pretty good though. Kingfish will rarely refuse a live squid.
Tailor are useful as a livie for big Mulloway, Kingfish and Sharks but make sure you use its over the legal size of 35cm, check the Tailor fishing article for more hints on those.
Decent sized Prawns are a good livie as well, but there’s nowhere near the seaway you can catch them regularly. Occasionally they will show up just at the end of the north wall at night on a runout tide and you can use a net to scoop them up. Using a red light will help you see the eyes of the prawn without spooking them. Most fish will hit a prawn but Jewies seem to particularly like them.
Silverbiddies also have a good reputation, cast netting around sandbanks are the main way of catching them, but the bigger models can be caught on peeled prawns and small hooks.
Garfish are also a very good bait, and Kingfish love them almost as much as they do pike. You can catch them around the weedbeds on the western side of the broadwater, around Runaway Bay and put down some bread or bran berley with some tuna oil and fish with small no. 12 hooks baited with prawn or squid under a float. They will also sit in large schools on the North Wall Flats on run out tides at night if the swell isn't too big. You can cast net them if they are thick.
With a long livebait like pike two hooks are essential, the top hook goes through the top and bottom of the mouth and the bottom hook goes above the backbone along the back ensuring the line between the two hooks is loose enough for the pike to swim naturally. Hook sizes range from 6/0 for small pike up to 30cm to 8/0 for the 45cm plus versions.
Mullet have a very hard top of the mouth and a very soft bottom of the mouth so you can hook them through the top of the mouth if you can work your hook through the bone. You can also hook them just behind the head and down near the tail above the backbone. Hook sizes range from 6/0 for small mullet up to 20cm to 9/0 for 40cm+ mullet.
Herring & Silverbiddies
Herring are best hooked with a single hook through the nose. With very large herring you can go to a double hook rig, once through the nose and the other just in front of the tail. Hook sizes range from 2/0 for small herring around 6cm long up to 4/0 for very large herring 10cm+
Yellowtail & Slimy Mackerel
Yellowtail and slimies can be used with a single or double hook rig, with a single hook it should be placed in the nose if you are fishing in high tidal flow or just below the dorsal fin if fishing in an eddy. With a double hook rig, the top hook goes in the nose, the bottom hook goes just before the tail above the backbone. Ideal hook sizes are 3/0- 5/0 for Yellowtail and 6/0 for Slimy Mackerel
As a long bait and prone to attacks by tailor, the two hook north wall trace is recommended. Break the beak off and place the top hook through the start of the beak and the second hook through the back above the backbone. I deal hook sizes for garfish are 6/0-7/0.
Tailor are best fished with a two hook rig, the bottom hook goes just before the tail, make sure it is above the lateral line, the top hook goes just behind the head. I recommend trimming the tail to slow the fish down a bit. I reccomend 8/0 minimum hook sizes for Tailor.
Squid are best hooked using a 2 hook rig similar to pike. The bottom hook goes through the skin between the eyes and the top hook goes into the top of the cape near the point. Hook sizes in the 7/0 to 8/0 range depending on the size of the Squid.
Prawns are best hooked using a single 2/0 or 3/0 suicide hook in the second to last segment near the tail. This allows the prawn to flick around unhindered. Hook sizes 2/0- 3/0
Big deadbaits are rarely used in the seaway, apart from the odd person using a fillet of something or pilchards. Pilchards however are too small and are more likely to hook Shovelnose Rays and the like. Using a fillet can be maddening with the amount of bream around, they will soon strip the bait of all flesh. The best deadbaits to use are Tailor and Pike and the best method of presenting them is to half butterfly the whole fish. Basically this means to cut off the tail and cut a fillet down one side but leave it attached to waft around. Mulloway and big Tailor in particular love this type of bait presentation but most decent fish will have a go. You can fish them on both the standard running sinker rig and the north wall rig. A slow lift and drop that keeps the sinker just off the bottom works best, just drop your bait to the bottom, then lift and drop it. You may have to release line if the current flow is fast to make sure your bait stays near the bottom.
A Butterflied Pike
This 85cm Jewie was caught on a Butterflied pike at 9am in the morning
I use a modular rigging system when livebaiting. This ensures that I can change sinker weights and fishing styles without having to retie knots every time you fish a different area. You can go from the north wall rig to the standard rig to an unweighted rig in seconds. There are a number of things you need to be able to do this. One is pre-tied traces, those with wire between the hooks and those without in a number of hook sizes. Secondly you need a number of Klik Sinkers in different sizes, these enable you to add and subtract weight depending on the area you are fishing when using the standard rig. The modular rig also ensures I can change a trace in seconds if it gets damaged by fish or rocks. The important end of a modular rig is 5 metres of 30-50lb mono then a 5mm bead(any craft supply shop will have these), then a heavy duty clip. The bead is necessary to stop the clip from the north wall sinker rig tangling with the snap clip, so don't forget it if you intend on using that rig.
Different sizes and colours of Klik Sinkers
You will need a number of different traces for livebaiting the seaway with a mix of line strengths, hook sizes and number of hooks. Trace strength should not be below 30lb and for large baits should be between 50 & 100lb. Traces will need to be changed frequently due to banging around in the rocks and damage from fish so make sure you carry enough for a session. Ideally you should match hook size to bait size, you don't want to be using too large or too small a hook on a bait. Here are the hook sizes I use for certain baits:
- Herring & Silverbiddies 3/0
- Yellowtail and Garfish 5/0
- Slimy Mackerel and small pike (<30cm) 6/0
- Medium to large Pike, mullet & Squid 7/0
- Tailor 8/0
In my opinion hook styles don't really matter, use whatever you want. I use Gamakatsu Octopus Black in sizes 2/0 - 9/0 for all my livebaiting they are super sharp and the hookup rate is excellent. Circle hooks work but depend on how you like to fish, I would only recommend them for those who like to anchor as the sit and forget style works alot better with these hooks. What matters most is that the hook be appropriate in size for the bait you are using which I have covered above. All of the hooks shown in the picture below are Gamakatsu Octopus style.
A Variety of Traces showing different hook sizes amd configurations
The Unweighted Rig
The unweighted rig is rarely used but definitely has a place in a good setup. Its use is situation specific, in other words if you see fish swimming around an unweighted livebait thrown to intercept is often eaten. Kingfish are a classic target for this technique, but it will also work on Giant Trevally and Tailor. Another good use for it is to cast a livebait around the end of the north wall and let it swim around in the eddy on a run in tide. Big tailor who have been ignoring lures will often grab a unweighted live pike thrown in close to the rocks. In the modular system all you do is clip on a premade trace, hook the bait on and you are ready to go.
This Metre long Kingfish took an unweighted pike cast to intercept a travelling school.
The Standard Running Sinker Rig
The standard running sinker rig is the most used rig in the seaway for livebaiting. It is effective for all types of fish but care must be taken not to let it roll around on the bottom otherwise you will get snagged alot. Drop it to the bottom, then lift it up a metre. This will let the bait swim around half a metre off the bottom. Care must be taken in strong tidal flows not to let the bait get too far off the bottom so you should drop it to the bottom and wind up once every couple of minutes or so.
The North Wall Livebaiting Setup
I use a different livebaiting setup for the north wall and deep hole area during a run in tide, the reason for that is the high tidal flow and rocky bottom make using the standard running sinker rig very prone to snagging. I sometimes need to go up to a 6oz sinker to hit the bottom on days with very large tides when using large livebaits.
The rig consists of a 5 m long shock leader of 40-50lb mono tied on to the main braided line of 30-50lb. On to the shock leader goes a bead around 5mm in diameter then it is tied to a high quality clip rated 80lb or more. A standard 2 hook rig(Gamakatsu Octopus Black 3/0 – 7/0 depending on bait size and type) with wire between the two hooks on a 50cm 30-50lb trace is clipped onto the clip. Next part is a sinker(1-6 oz depending on tidal flow) on a 1.m long trace of 12lb mono tied to a clip. This clip is then attached above the bead.
Concentration is essential with this rig, as the main idea is to keep the sinker on the bottom and the bait swimming that half metre above the bottom. You manage the rig by holding the sinker once the livie is attached, then swing it over the side and drop it to the bottom. With braided lines you can feel the sinker hit the bottom each time, so very 30 seconds or so lift the sinker off the bottom and set it back down. The sinker is sacrificial and will sometimes get stuck in the rocks but the 12lb leader on the sinker trace will break long before any of the other parts. Simply hop it along in the current until you start feeling some thuds on the line, then set the hook when you think the fish has it.
The Figure 8 Wire Knot and Making a North Wall Livebait Trace
Due to the large amount of Tailor and other toothy fish that hang around the north wall and in the deep hole it is highly advisable to use wire between the first and second hooks when fishing in this area. Its quite simple and very strong to implement this into your rig but there are a few caveats. You must use nylon coated multistrand wire and the strength needs to be 30lb and above, any lighter and it will likely fail. You must also test it by hooking it up to a bar and giving it a hard pull, if the wire was kinked during the knot cinching it will break, otherwise it will be solid as a rock. Its worth noting that all my traces are tested with heavy load prior to bagging, that way you know the trace wont fail when you’ve got a fish on.
Step 1. Tying the figure 8 knot.
Cut about 20cm of wire. Thread the wire through the eye of the hook then bring it back along the incoming wire, loop it around the wire then thread it back through the loop you created close to the eye of the hook. Once you’ve done that it should look like the picture below.
Tighten up the loop by pulling on both the incoming wire and the tag end and it should look like the picture below. Cut the tag end leaving about 3mm of tag. Ensure that you slide the knot down the right hand side as shown in the picture below. This will be the eye the mono gets attached to.
Tie another figure 8 knot to the hook on the other end of the wire. Test both knots by hooking it onto something and giving it hard pull. Once finished it should look like the picture below. That is the wire section completed. Ideally it should be between 10 & 15cm long for pike, 7-10cm for slimies & yellowtail.
Cut about 45cm of 40-50lb mono, using a uni knot attach it to the top hook making sure that it is tied to the left of the wire and tie a swivel on the other end also with a uni knot. Your trace should now be completed, test the trace under load before bagging. Your completed trace should look like the picture below.
Once completed and tested all my traces are placed into ziplock bags showing hook size, intended bait use, wire and mono strength.
Areas for livebaiting
The North Wall contains 5 distinct areas for livebaiting. They are the Deep Hole, The Runway, The Eddy, The Line and the Front of the wall. Most people only livebait the deep hole but all areas are worth fishing. As part of a livebait run during a run in tide I will fish The Eddy first, then as the tide begins to slow fish the end of the north wall, The Line, the Deep Hole and The Runway in turn. Every species can be caught off the north wall.
The pipeline is easy to fish with livebaits, you can either anchor up and sink your livebaits to the bottom or you can drift over it dropping your livies down right next to the pipe, a good sounder is essential for this. I think that drifting is a better method as you cover alot more ground and are more likely to find fish that aren't sitting on the pipe. Both methods work however, it just depends on how you like to fish. Most species can be caught around the pipe but Tailor seem rare. Giant Trevally and Mulloway are the most common catches.
The Triangle is mostly sand with a few patches of coffee rock here and there. Drifting this area is essential to cover the most ground. Mulloway are the most likely, but Giant Trevally and Kingfish are also possible.
The Northern Y is mostly sand but does have alot of exposed coffee rock formations, schools of fish will often gather over these formations during the night. Mulloway, Trevally of all species, Hairtail, Cod and sharks are all possible especially if there is alot of bait around. Drifting tends to work best but you can anchor off the the eastern side of the channel for decent results.
The Canyon holds Mulloway, Giant Trevally and Kingfish. It is rarely livebaited properly but does contain some very big fish at times. You can anchor off the the sides but drifting works best covering the edges and deeper sections of the canyon on a single drift.
Mulloway or Jewies are the main target species for livebaiters, they will take most baits as long as they are near the bottom. Concentrate your efforts near the top or bottom of the tides just as the flow is speeding up or slowing down. During the middle of the tides concentrate around eddies or in deep holes.
This metre plus mulloway was caught on a live tailor
Tailor are mainly caught around the north wall, in the deep hole, in the Eddy or along the runway. They will eat most baits and unless you like losing hooks you should use the north wall rig with wire between the hooks. They will eat at any stage of the tide but the big ones prefer it when the tide slows a bit.
69cm Tailor caught on a butterflied Pike
Bigeye Trevally are most commonly caught on live baits of herring but they will take yellowtail and even pike on occasion. They can pretty much be caught anywhere but the Pipeline holds the largest amount of these fish.
Bigeye Trevally taken on a live pike
Giant Trevally can be caught anywhere but the north wall dropoff, runway and the pipeline hold the most fish. They will eat most baits except live Tailor. Giant Trevally will happily take baits alot further off the bottom than most other fish so if I get snagged with the north wall rig and lose the sinker, I let it drift around unweighted for a while. A GT usually picks up the bait.
68cm Gt caught on a live yellowtail
Kingfish are a random event, you never know when they will show up or when you will hook them. They love live pike, Squid and Garfish but will have a go at anything fishy. Most kingfish hooked around the pipeline are lost due to bustoffs, hooking them elsewhere gives you a better chance. If you see them feeding on surface throw a unweighted live bait in thier swim direction and you might get lucky.
This 93cm Kingfish took a live pike off the end of the north wall
Sharks will often make themselves known while you are fighting a fish hooked on a livebait, often you will only bring up a head. To target sharks with livebaits you need a wire trace preferably 100lb or heavier a 10/0 hook and a decent livebait like a 40cm Tailor. If they are around they should find the bait fairly quickly. The best area for sharks is the deep hole at the end of the north wall but all locations have sharks at times. Look for areas out of the main tidal flow such as eddies and deep holes.
This 2 metre + Bull shark was caught on a live pike
There are other species that can be caught in the seaway on livebaits, these include various cod species, Trevally species, large Mangrove Jacks, offshore species like Spanish Mackerel, Cobia and Snapper, Whitespot Shovelnose and Stingrays. All these fish are a random event and not something you can plan for but they make livebaiting the seaway an interesting way to spend some time on the water.
If there is anything else you think this article need let me know in the comments section. Some hook placement pictures are missing but I will add them as I can.