I define Greenback Tailor as any fish over 60cm or over 2.5kg. You won't find too many fish in the seaway at this size, most are loners or are swimming with groups of smaller fish. The ideal method to catch big Tailor like this is using live pike or a strip of bonito, but thats kinda boring. Targeting greenbacks on lures is more challenging and more fun so this article will go into a bit of detail on how I and others have caught these larger fish on lures. I'm going to do this on a case by case basis, detailing the conditions and techniques used at the time. Between now and February is when you will catch the big ones on lures so its a good time to try for one.
This 65cm Tailor was caught on the 25th January 2007, no swell no wind and it was at top of the tide with minimal tidal movement. Water visibilty was about 3 metres. It hit the 9cm Redhead Skitter pop close to the rocks at around 6am using a 3 bloop pause retrieve, one of the first fish caught on the redhead skitter pop, a lure which I now consider to be one of the must have lures for the seaway.
This 67cm Tailor was caught on the 25th November 2007, on that particular day the usual techniques (twisties, minnows and poppers) had yielded nothing, the tide was incoming and there was a 15kt Se wind blowing making things difficult. Water visibility was about 2 metres. As a last ditch effort at around 8am I put on a 35gram sniper(chrome lure) cast it into the current line gave it a 6 second sink time and cranked it back. As the lure neared the boat and started skipping along the surface this tailor had one swipe at it, missed and then connected on the second strike. Once we had landed this fish, using the same technique we then went to land another dozen fish between 50 & 60cm. A classic example of finding just the right technique on the day. They didn't want the smaller 20gram twisties we were throwing and would only hit 35-40gram chromes.
This 65cm Tailor was caught on the 15th November 2008, the tide was running in, no wind, 1 metre SE Swell, water visibility was about 2 metres and he hit the redhead skitter pop using a steady walk the dog retrieve about 2 metres away from the rocks at around 4.30am.
This 71cm Tailor was caught on the 3rd December 2009, It was the first half of the runout tide, no wind or swell, visibility was around 3 metres. This particular fish hit an 85gram Raider (yes thats right 85gram.. the big one) that was cast along the front of the wall and retrieved using a steady retrieve, he hit it about 2 metres out from the rocks then went on to put on an excellent aerial display. It was hooked around 4.30am.
This 63cm Tailor was caught on the 2nd November 2010, tide was running in, 1 metre ESE swell, water vis was 1.5m. This fish took a Zipbaits system minnow 15f being worked with a stop start retrieve about a metre away from the wall just on first light at around 4am.
This 63cm Tailor was caught on the 11th November 2009, no wind, 1m NE swell on a run in tide. Water vis was about 2 metres. The fish struck the 9cm Metallic skitter pop on a 3 bloop pause retrieve about 3 metres away from the rock wall, the fish had a couple of goes at it before hooking up properly. When you get a few hits without a hookup, stop the retrieve and jiggle the lure in place, most of the time the fish will come back and smash the lure and hookup.
And last but definitely not least Dad got this 74cm Tailor on the 9th November 2011. Water visibilty was poor with less than a metre due to disturbed sand thanks to the prevailing northerly winds. 1 metre NE swell with a 10 kt Northerly wind. Despite catching a few small tailor on twisties it was quiet, after a switch to a 9cm skitter pop in a mullet colour, dad nailed this fish on his second cast about 1 metre away from the rock wall just on sunrise at 5am. We continued to catch a few more tailor on poppers after that.
So looking at that info, it looks like we have a few things we can look at for targeting greenbacks on lures.
Now you'll notice that all of those lures only cover the top couple of metres of water, so what about the fish on the bottom where all the livie caught fish hang out? Unfortunately while I've managed to catch a couple of fish that would have just nudged 60cm on the bottom with vibs and plastics, I'm yet to see a consistent method of lure fishing to target those fish. While they are quite happy to hit a pike as soon as you put it down there, they'll ignore lures all day long.