There's a morning ritual that only happens at a certain time a year; scraping the thin layer of frost off the car windscreen, witnessing the early morning, eerie fog over the river's surface (if you are crazy to be awake that early) and of course, the terribly hard decision of whether to go flannelette with uggs or bomber jacket with gumboots! If this reigns true for you then you must be a luderick angler or a fan of winter!
Luderick anglers are those who type of people who relish in the bitterly cold winter days and are not afraid to get up early to find fresh green weed or cabbage in order to hit the best luderick spots before the sun is up. To be honest; I would rather be tucked up in bed under many layers of doona! But I must admit, I have experienced an early morning luderick hunt and it's a great experience that I recommend any angler tries at least once in their life!
Luderick or scientifically "Girella tricuspidata" are exciting to catch due to their hard fighting capability complete with many dirty tactics. They move into SE Queensland waters to spawn over the winter months and are definitely on the chew now. During their visit to coastal waterways, they will be feeding up around any surface area where cabbage or thread like algae grows. These habitats include all rocky areas, bridge pylons, fallen trees and seagrass beds.
The best bait to chase luderick is the thread and cabbage algae that can be collected from rocky ledges, out crops and rock pools along the coast on low tide. At the moment green weed is not that easy to find in any decent amount along the coastal rock surfaces but locals have been seen with "weed" that is reportedly growing near the Boardwalk at Caloundra, along the rock walls at Mooloolaba bar and by the Sheraton at Noosa. Davo's bait and tackle has also got cryovac weed in stock at the moment which is an excellent option if you are having trouble finding weed. When the luderick are on a hot bite they will often eat live yabbies, fresh peeled prawn and even live worms. There is even the local legend of the chap who caught a very decent sized fish on bok choy or Chinese cabbage!
Anglers choose to target these temperamental and extremely sensitive fish, because they are a challenge to hook and also an demanding great skills and intricate rod handling to land the ferocious fighters. On light tackle a small luderick fights as hard around structure as a large sea bream or golden trevally would. Once hooked, they pull straight towards cover - generally the rocky walls and caves that they inhabit. Anglers must keep pressure on the line at all times, because luderick will fight from start to finish, thrashing like crazy trying to escape. The angler will normally need to hold the spool of the reel tight, so that the fish doesn't get an inch of line. This is when the long whippy rod acts as a shock absorber during the battle until the fish tires slightly and is dragged in.
The best rod for targeting luderick must be highly sensitive and flexible, roughly between 8 and 10 feet in length and not much heavier than 2-4kg. A tried and tested combo which can be recommended is the Jarvis Walker Aurora (Ocean Blackfish) in the 3.6m minimum. This rod is for medium action and is ideal for the hard fight ensuing from a luderick hook up, but also it will easily handle the movements of a small school jew, trevally, large bream or flathead. Likewise, Surecatch Bigfield rod has been designed with a species like luderick in mind. Any spinning reel with a high gear ratio for quick retrieve will suffice. Newish to the market is the Surecatch Ovation reel with 5 ball bearings and infinite anti reverse which is a nice size tough reel for luderick plus it has a 5 year warranty! Also don't be afraid to pop on slightly heavier line than you would for a bream as luderick may be timid but they are not as paranoid as bream are when it comes to detecting line.
Needle sneck hooks in size 8 or 10 are commonly used and should be rigged between 2 and 4 foot below a luderick style float depending on the depth at which the fish are feeding. The float is held in place by small rubber float stoppers. Size 00 - 1 split shots should be clamped on the line to make your float sit down in the water and to hold the line straight down despite the tidal flow. The first split shot should be clamped on about 20cm away from the hook.
Bait presentation is important; wrap your weed around the hook in a plait or similar twisted style and be sure that the hook is fairly well covered in weed, with a few centimetres hanging below the hook, as luderick have good eye sight. Adjust the space between the hook and float, so that the bait drifts along only a matter of inches above the structure where the fish are feeding.
Drift your baited hook along a fish feeding zone and pay close attention to the depth of the float. Luderick will suck the weed down and your float will become submerged. Once submerged for more than a few seconds, lift your rod quickly to set the hook. Once you find the luderick it is well worth using a berley to keep them there. A landing net is an essential to tool for luderick fishing and it will increase the number of fish landed.
Hot Spots over the coast include:
Noosa: Cheryl from Davo's reports that the competition is fierce at Noosa to claim a spot along the rock walls at the river mouth and also along a new stretch of rocks at Dock Beach. The best time is a couple of hours either side of high tide which has yielded several 2kg size fish.
Maroochydore: The Motorway bridge pylons have fared well for luderick so far this season. The small jetty near the Duporth Tavern has also become a popular spot of late as well as the rock walls behind Cotton Tree Caravan Park.
Mooloolaba: The Kawana rock wall has always been a very popular spot, the sand basin and along La Balsa Park have also produced good results on high tide. It has also been reported that cabbage has been sighted growing around the Wharf so if you are adventurous enough get your wetsuit and snorkel on or head there on a very low tide in your boat.
Caloundra: Though the Boardwalk is closed down at present, if you can take a boat out fish in the channel between The Boardwalk and the Military Jetty plus reports have come in from anglers taking their boats to the Blue Hole and around the pinnacle of rocks just before the bar.
If the water temperatures remain cool over the next few month then the luderick should remain in the Sunshine Coast waters, providing a challenge for keen anglers of all ages.
LOCAL FISHING REPORT
Noosa: Good reports of snapper, squire, pearl perch and moses perch at Chardon's and North Reef. A few sweetlip, parrot, cobia and northern bluefin tuna also earlier in the week at North Reef. Bream, whiting and chopper tailor to 1.5kg along the North Shore to Teewah. Bream throughout the river. Luderick off the rock walls at the mouth, best on high tide. Whiting, trevally and tailor in the lower reaches.
Maroochydore: Good tailor at night and at first sun along Marcoola and Mudjimba beaches. Bream and chopper tailor around the coffee rock at Pincushion. Luderick around the Motorway Bridge pylons. Flathead on lures and anchovies from the mouth of Eudlo Creek to Bli Bli islands. Bream and a few whiting near the sand bags at the river mouth.
Kawana: Pearl perch, snapper, parrot and maori cod at Caloundra Wide and 12 Mile Reef. Dart, bream, tailor and whiting along the beaches. Schools of gar throughout the lower reaches. Whiting and sand crabs reported along the Wharf boardwalk and towards the Coastguard. Bream and golden trevally off the rock walls at the mouth.
Caloundra: Snapper and sweetlip from Brays Rock and 5 Mile Reef. Tailor moving in schools from the mouth down the Passage towards Donnybrook. Bream at the mouths of Coochin and Bells Creeks. Flathead, trevally and queenfish in the Pelican Waters Canals.
The Noosa River mouth is the favoured spot for Matt Flett who has pulled in dozens of quality luderick on high tide here.
Shaykia, Tahlia and dad Paul got up rather early to fish the rock walls at the Cod Hole for this nice luderick.
Steve Muller fished over the high tide along the Maroochy North Shore using mullet strips for this tray of bream between 600 and 835grams.
Bryan and Tommy enjoyed an afternoon flicking soft plastics just at the Maroochy Waters Canal entrance – these pan-size bream are the results.