ASK NICK A QUESTION

Nick Hocking would love to answer your fishing question.

Send him one below and he’ll give you his best answer.

Here are some previous answers from Nick to our viewers:

Q. Hi Nick, what is the best time of year and weather to go trolling for mackerel and tuna around Rottnest, Matt Darcy.

Nick Hocking with a big Rottnest Island hookupA. Hi Matt, small southern bluefin tuna can generally be found around Rottnest most of the year. Try trolling Richter Jnr Tornados in bright colours such as hot pink when it is rough and Hock’s Heads and Jelly Babes during calmer weather.

Four to eight kilo lever drag trolling outfits spooled with brightly coloured nylon lines are preferred. Flashing teasers such as the Pakula Witch Doctor are also handy and attract fish from a much greater distance than a normal spread of lures.

Trolling speeds of around 10–12 knots are highly recommended and larger yellowfin tuna can also be encountered around Rottnest.

Try trolling around the Parker Point area with both diving lures such as Rapala X-Raps and Halco Laser Pro 160 and 190s. Greens and golds are great colours for yellowfin tuna and also yellowtail kingfish which can also be caught if trolling close to the island.

Heavier 8–15kg trolling outfits are recommended for these larger tuna. I have caught tuna around Rottnest in warmer months of Jan–March and also in cooler months whilst targeting salmon. You may have to slow down to around 8–10 knots when diving lures are incorporated into the lure spread.

April–May would have to be one of my favourite times of the year to troll around Rotto. This is the time of year larger Spanish mackerel seem to congregate along the island’s western end.

Try trolling a combination of deep diving and shallow running bibbed lures in around 15–25 meters of water around steep pinnacles and lumps. Single strand wire leaders are a must and nylon main lines of between 8–15kg are ideal.

Again, a flashing teaser will definitely increase your odds of success. Around 8 knots is a suitable speed for trolling deep diving lures for big Spanish mackerel.

As far as weather goes, the rougher the better! Fish tend to feed more actively during rougher weather conditions and will hit lures being trolled close to the surface more so in these conditions than when it is calm.

Calm conditions are great for anglers, not for fish. I like a steady 15 knot SW wind to stir things up a bit. Check out our PFTV bluefin tuna and Spanish mackerel videos or www.fish-on.com.au for more info. 

Q. I have just bought a small boat (4.75m ali) and am not comfortable going 20 miles out like everyone tells me I have to. What are your tips for fishing off Bunbury closer in shore up to about 5 miles.

I have fished some inshore reefs and have had mixed success. When I think I have a good spot, I go back and nothing. It appears most inshore “reefs” we have down here are just limestone bottom rather than major structure, Mark Seaton.

A. Hi Mark, try anchoring and berleying in that depth, sound some decent fish holding close to the bottom and anchor your boat up wind and current of them.

Now introduce some berley into the water, either pellet or minced fish works best. Cast some floating or lightly weighted baits back down the burley trail and allow them to sink down through to the waiting fish. Nylon main lines of around 20lb in breaking strain and leaders of around 40–60lb should do the trick.

Whole mulie or squid baits fished on 5/0 – 7/0 snelled hooks are preferred.

Another method is to cruise around sounding decent showings of fish holding close to the bottom and drift over them whilst dropping soft plastic lures or slow pitch demersal jigs.

Slow pitch jigs are worked vertically beneath the boat and soft plastics are better cast away from the boat and drifted onto. Try 70–90 gram jigs and 5–7 inch plastics fished on 1–2 ounce jig heads with 5/0–7/0 hooks.

Braided line of around PE2–3 is preferred, as are 30–50lb fluorocarbon leaders. Another good tip for you would be to begin writing a fishing diary, tides, moon phase, water temp, water clarity, wind strength, swell height, barometric pressure and many other things need to be taken into careful consideration before any successful fishing trip. Eventually you will be able to look back through your diary to reveal certain fish feeding cycles and patterns.

As far as locations go, put in the time and you will eventually find some decent spots. It does take time and us anglers are a secretive kind of bunch!

Q. So I have started jigging, I have a nice little set up with a Daiwa reel and an Icon rod. Love it! Anyway I couldn’t get the Shimano orange jig so I found a similar looking jig in the local tackle store, it’s a Savage.

The only thing I seem to catch on my jigs are sergeant baker (I’m using a 2/0 assist). I have tried all different colours and still only manage the sergeants, Matt Martinez.

A. Hi Matt, could be the Daiwa outfit you’re using that is the problem, just kidding! I prefer Shimano gear but each to their own.

Dhufish Caught with Metal JigDepending on what depths you are fishing, jig colour, size and action are all key factors. Try using jigs that replicate the chosen prey items of the fish you are targeting.

For example, if you are targeting dhufish, look at using jigs that are similar in size and colour to small wrasse and your old mate the sergeant baker. I always make sure to have a large variety of jig styles, sizes and colours on board as you never know what might be working on each and every day.

Changing jigs around and trying new and different styles and colours is half the fun of jigging anyway. One thing for sure is the dearer the jig is, the better it will work!

Cheaper jigs have had little or no real design or shaping and will certainly not catch like the real McCoy’s. The reason expensive jigs are so very effective is their many years of design and testing. Reds and golds with a splash of lumo seem to fish well out here for most species.

The real trick is to use a jig that is heavy enough to get down quickly but not so heavy that it stays there. Try jigs in the 120-135 gram range in around 35–45m of water. 40–60lb leaders and braided main lines of around PE3-4.

Larger 3/0 – 4/0 assist hooks are a better option for large mouthed species such as dhufish and are still small enough for baldchin and pink snapper. Try not to work the jig too hard and rather let the slow and steady rocking motion of the boat do most of the work for you. Leaving the rod in a holder with the jig suspended a metre or two from the bottom will more than likely outfish an angler working a demersal jig too quickly and sharply.

A couple of slow lifts and drops followed by a short pause is really all that is required to successfully jig for demersal species. Work the jig as slowly as possible from the bottom to around 10m or so, then drop it and repeat the process again.

This technique is commonly referred to as slow pitch jigging and is, in my opinion, the most effective method of demersal fishing available by far. Best of luck Matt, stick with it and the rewards will come. Maybe check out our jigs vs baits video for some more tips on slow pitch jigging. Calm seas, clear skies Nick H.