With the tournament well and truly on the horizon, now’s the time to start planning your approach to targeting the various species on offer within the tournament zone.
While boat fishing is often thought of as the be all and end all when it comes to tournament fishing, the good news is, those on foot can also get in on the action, particularly when it comes to fishing for natives around standing timber and underwater structure.
If you don’t have access to a boat or just enjoy the flexibility and ease of carrying a backpack, a rod and a tray of lures while walking the banks, there’s no reason you can’t put yourself in the mix to land that prize-winning fish.
The fact is, a large proportion of boat and kayak fishing is directed toward the banks when it comes to freshwater. You also have the added advantage of moving along the banks in a stealthy manner, with fish less likely to spook by the sound of gentle footsteps, as opposed to a noisy boat engine.
To give yourself the best opportunity to land a fish from the shore, here are our top five tips to achieving land based success during the competition:
- Look for banks that provide extra height from which to look into the water to identify snags and various fish-holding structure. There’s a lot of water to cover and while being on foot allows you to quickly change locations, it pays to focus your attention on likely areas, such as stand up timber, root balls, sunken logs, weed beds and rocky shore lines. Fish such as Murray cod are ambush predators and will spend most of their days hunkered down around cover, waiting for unsuspecting prey (including baits and lures) to swim by. Polarised sunglasses will make the job of searching through the water a lot easier as they cut through the surface glare and protect your eyes while doing so.
- Using the right rod and reel combo will go a long way to not only improving your chance of hooking and landing fish, but to make it a more comfortable experience. Regardless of whether you prefer a spinning rod and reel or a baitcaster combo, it pays to choose something that’s comfortable in the hand and that you can cast with all day long without getting fatigued. Look for a 6-7ft graphite constructed blank in the 3-5kg or 4-6kg range with a 2500-4000 spinning reel or 100-200 sized baitcaster and you’ll be good to go.
- Lure fishing is perfect for the mobile angler on foot as it allows you to try various styles and retrieves to discover what fish are responding to on any given day. With that in mind, it pays to carry a mix of lures, including the likes of soft plastics, spinnerbaits, hardbodies, blades and surface presentations. It’s also a good idea to carry a range of colours as water conditions can change overnight and what works well in murky conditions may not fare as well in clear water. If fishing with a buddy, employ different lure styles and colours until you discover what the fish are tuned into. The same can be said for retrieval speeds. Implement a mix of slow rolling, erratic hops and pauses and burn and kill techniques until you work out what the fish are best responding to.
- We touched on it earlier, but one of the benefits of land based fishing is the stealth factor. To ensure you remain quiet and fairly well-hidden from the eyes of fish lurking beneath the surface, you will want to blend into the surrounding environment. While some fishing shirts are bright and visually appealing to anglers, they can in fact give your position away and alert fish to beware. With that in mind, opt for more muted colours and ensure you are prepared for varying weather conditions. Given you’ll likely be moving about along different terrains, you also want to ensure you’re wearing suitable footwear.
- If bait fishing is more your thing, just as with lure fishing, it pays to have a variety of baits to experiment with and work out what the fish are in the mood for. It will also open the possibility up of catching multiple species if using different sized baits. Best baits include worms, yabbies, shrimp, cheese and even chicken. Carry a range of hook sizes for the various species on offer and fish as little lead as you can. You want your bait to appear as natural as possible, with unweighted presentations being optimal.
To make your bait fishing session comfortable, it pays to have a comfy chair and rod holder. Just don’t get too comfy and be sure to keep an eye on your rod tip and line, as even the slightest twitch can indicate an enquiry from a perspective $80k fish!