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Fishing Report: Give burley a go! 5/11/2010



We regularly get queries regarding burley in the shop and any staff member can help out with their tried and tested formula.  For those of us who turn to the inter-web for everything, yes there is plenty of information on burley...as long as you know how to find it.  Many people are unaware that the term burley is used only in Australia, the term is chumming in other parts of the world. Chumming came about in the 19th century in California when fish guts and pig's heads were tossed off the end of a pier to bring the sharks in for tourists to see. For those anglers looking for burley recipes online, be sure to type the word chum into the search - results will be plentiful including great recipes from America and local recipes with Chum dog food in the ingredient list!


The use of burley is by far the best way to attract fish from all over the place to your bait via a trail of food particles. It is commonly used by boat and bank anglers in the river and in offshore waters to increase your catch rate. Not many anglers use burley off the beach but if the correct technique is used in the surf gutters there can be great advantages.



Current, tide and wave action are two strong factors that influence where your burley will end up. Make sure you take these factors into consideration when positioning a burley dispenser. A small cylinder style burley pot with plenty of small holes or slits that allow a slow and steady flow of burley is the only instrument that you need. Homemade pots are cheap and easy to make - head to your local hardware store and get some PVC pipe from the plumbing section if you are handy and creative, or pick up a readymade pot from your local tackle store for around $10. Attach the pot with a length of rope to your boat, a tree or a sand spike in the sand so that the burley can disperse gradually within close proximity to where you are fishing.


If beach fishing, you want the burley bucket to sit just in front of you and be washed around in the shore break so small amounts are released with each surge. Depending on the current and the waves, place the pot up current so that the burley ends up in the general area where your bait is sitting. When you re-cast your bait out, make sure it lands on the upside of the burley pot and with the current, it sinks into the trail.



Any fishing scraps and off cuts from cleaned fish can be used as burley. Chook pellets, bread crumbs, old bread, pilchards and prawns are also good. When using pellets or bread, it is well worth adding a small amount of 100% tuna oil to give the fish plenty of sent to follow. The main aim is to crush or cut up all of the solid material into small pieces that will slowly break up and flow out of the burley buckets holes.

If you want to keep costs down buy yourself a second hand food processor or a meat grinder. Blitzing up old bread into crumbs and then adding minced up meat and seafood scraps so that you get a fine composition. Then you can freeze good handfuls of the mix into old stockings (tied off and bagged) - check first before you raid your other half's hosiery draw though!


Waste not - want not: this old saying is what my granddad lives by - he is the king of burley. Grandad added old leftover bait to his mixture. Rather than throwing old bait into the river after a day's fishing, he would process it into a fine paste and add to breadcrumb mixture. Prawn heads, squid, whitebait or any pilchard as well as the frames and guts of any fish he caught went into the freezer for the next burley making session!

One recipe that I did happen to come across on the internet which sounded pretty scrumptious is as follows:

5 kg of Pillies.
3 kg bag of Flour.
2L Tuna oil.
Optional to add a bag of cat or dog biscuits. If you do add them, give the mix about 5 or 6 hours to marinate.
Plus all your old bait, fish frames, meat & table scraps.
Blend it all together in a 20lt bucket, ensuring everything is a thick paste. Adding some water to help it mix and pour better. Use a paint mixing attachment on a drill to assist. Pour the burley mix into old cordial/milk bottles and freeze. This should be enough to make up 10 or 12 bottles.

I am keen to try this mix and report on the results in the coming weeks. But I have learnt my lesson after my last burley ‘cook-up' which resulted in a less-than-impressed wife who did not take kindly to burley ending up there beside lamb chops in the freezer - this time I will only make enough for the next day's fishing trip.


On a last note, make sure that you don't go over board when you do use burley as the fish will gorge on it and will be less likely to eat the bait you are offering. Fish will travel long distances along a burley trail to reach the source. The stronger the scent in your trail means the fish will travel from farther distances. If you do a lot of fishing and have never tried using burley to attract fish then maybe it's time to fill your burley pot and give it a try.




Noosa: Whiting out from the third cutting. Big dart, tarwhine and flathead along Double Island. Mangrove jacks and trevally in lake Cooroibah. Whiting and dart on the southern beaches. Trevally in Noosa Waters. Whiting from the mouth. Flathead from the Frying pan.

Maroochydore: Bream and the odd mangrove Jack in the canals at night. Whiting throughout the lower river and the mouth of Eudlo Creek. Trevally to 2.5kg in the cod hole on live bait. A few nice flathead throughout the river. Mud crabs in Petrie creek and near the Bli Bli islands.

Kawana: Whiting, flathead and dart down at Currimundi. Bream from the moorings. Whiting in Mountain Creek and the sand basin at La Balsa Park. Mangrove jack from McKenzie’s bridge at night. Sand crabs towards the mouth. Mud crabs in the canals.

Caloundra: Whiting and bream from the blue hole on live bloodworms. Elbow slapper whiting along the Golden Beach stretch and at the mouth of Coochin creek. Queenfish, bream, golden trevally and large flathead from the board walk.




Robert Whiting uses a bread and tuna oil mix to coax small bait fish, bream and whiting to the back of his boat, which provides him with food for his Giant Trevally to eat. Rob got this 2.5kg specimen on a herring.



Andy Gunn and his mate Allen normally burley up with a mixed of minced up fish, tuna oil and pellets to attract his reef species. These snapper to 2.6kg were caught at the Barwon Banks.



Kaden and Glen Whitaker were fishing with fresh bait under the Maroochy Waters Bridge when they hooked this 62cm dusky flathead.


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