Land Based Fishing Increasing Your Catch Rate

Experienced angler Jarrod Day gets back to basics in this article on Land Based Fishing and passes on his techniques and know how in increasing your catch rate jd5

Land-Based fishing is no easy task. Accessing productive fishing grounds is limited and attracting your targeted species can prove a challenge. Land Based fishing is where many Australians cut their teeth; some may branch off and purchase a boat or kayak while others are content with fishing from the stones, planks or sand.

Fishing from the land is no real easy task. In that, many weekend anglers may just flick out a bait and hope for the best while others study locations, weather and tides to catch that fish of a lifetime from the land.

This in itself takes years of developing skill and experience and accessing locations that can be extremely difficult to get too. It is these “off the track” kind of locations that do produce quality fish from time to time but at the end of the day, any rock fishing no matter where in the country you are is extremely dangerous and special care must be adhered too.

Every year there are numerous deaths around the country due to anglers being swept off the rocks. No matter how experienced you are, taking the necessary precautions is paramount if you are heading to the stones. If there is one high priority item that should be taken with you, it is a life jacket or vest. If you are swept in, knocked out or injured, at least you’re head will be above the water.


Being the most dangerous style of fishing, rock fishing requires a few set rules to be adhered to before venturing to your chosen location.

These include fishing in a group of two or more, telling somebody where your fishing and what time you’re likely to be home, wear the correct clothes including a life jacket or vest and foot attire, study the location and research the weather conditions.

It is paramount that all these safety steps be completed before and during your next rock fishing visit to prevent an avoidable accident.


The beauty about fishing from the shore is that it is quite easy to catch something. Whether it is from the sand, a pier or a rock platform, there will be a fish within an easy cast.

Though it could be some time between catching fish, a good and successful technique is to use berley. jd2

Depending on what species of fish you choose to target there a different levels of berley techniques which can be used.

Basic berleying techniques include the use of an onion bag or some sort of fish netting containing small diameter holes. This can be filled with pilchards or fish scraps, tied off and hung over the edge of the rocks or pier.

Even then, it can be staked of to your surf rod holder while the bag is tossed into the shore wash. As each wave crashes upon it, the scraps are broken up and flakes are washed into the sea. If this technique is used, anglers must secure off the bag correctly, otherwise the bag can be washed into the ocean.

Alternative berleying techniques used are dicing up a few blocks of pilchards and tossing a handful or more into the wash at equal intervals.

Though this works effectively you’ll often get caught up in casting and rebaiting that you’ll forget to throw in more berley. A constant and steady trail is more likely to attract fish than a broken trail.

I am very fond of the berley bag technique because I often forget about berleying and focus more on the fishing. Still if you want to simplify the technique even more, you can also hang a small tuna or salmon carcass over the rock face. This can be tied with a rope around the tail to it breaks up in the crashing waves.

The carcass will expel the oils and break into smaller particles creating a steady trail providing it is tied off securely.


There are many different techniques used when fishing from the rocks and each technique tends to be associated around the species being targeted.

In Victoria, salmon, kingfish, whiting, snapper and calamari are the most popular and each has its own specific techniques required to be caught successfully.


Targeting salmon from the rocks is a challenge in itself. Firstly you need to access locations where the fish will regularly patrol and most of the time it is during the cooler months. jd1

The basic setup to fish for salmon tends to be with the use of a surf rod. A surf rod with its length advantage enables anglers to cast a bait further then if using a much smaller rod and also allows the fishing line to be high than the wash preventing it and the rig from being washed in towards the rocks and or reef.

While salmon do have a rather small mouth, hooks in a Mustad 1/0 92647S Bait holder pattern works extremely well. A small half pilchard or whole blue bait can easily be threaded onto the hook.

The ideal rig is a paternoster with two droppers. This enables anglers to fish two baits on the one rig subsequently catching two fish at the same time.

Once a berley trail is established, baits should be cast into it but still far enough away from the wash and the rocks so not to become snagged or busted off. jd8


Targeting kingfish from the rocks is a lot more challenging and in fact, one of the most difficult of Victorian species to catch. Firstly you need the right location and there are plenty along the Phillip Island and Bass coastline.

Though special care must be taken at all of the accessible locations, they are best fished throughout the warmer months.

Targeting kingfish is best undertaken with the use of a surf rod to aid in the length factor in casting baits out.

Live baiting is one of the preferred and most successful methods. Live baits such as Yellow Tail, salmon and calamari are the three better baits to use.

If your lucky enough to be able to gather live baits at your location your doing well but most of the time you will have to transport them in. a small bucket with aerator can do the job but you will only be able to keep a small amount of livies alive.

In this cast, you’ll want to maximise their life when on the hook so ensure you up to speed with bridle rigging techniques.

One of the simplest rigs to use for kings off the ricks is a bobby cork float running between a swivel and hook on a meter length of 80lb trace. This rig can be cast easily enough keeping your baits out from the rocks. Alternatively, you can balloon live baits out but you’ll want to get the tide and wind direction in your favour to do so.


Right around the Victorian coastline, king George whiting are in abundance. While they prefer feeding over shallow sand flats, throughout Western Port and Port Phillip Bay, the sand flats are within an easy cast from the shore.

Beaches such as Ventnor, Cowes, Cat Bay, Balnarring and Flinders are the most popular in Western Port while in Port Phillip Bay, Mornington, Mt Martha, Rye and Sorrento are also popular land based locations.

Whiting prefer smaller size baits including squid strips and pipi. These can easily be threaded onto a small hook such as a Mustad #4 or #2 Demon Circle.

The preferred rig is a paternoster which will allow two baits to be suspended above any weed growth should you be casting into any.

The use of berley is difficult if fishing from the shore but if from a pier or jetty, a small berley pot with pellets and mixed up pilchards is very effective.

Simply cast the baits into the trail and wait for the fish to be attracted to the trail. jd7


Of all the land based species; snapper are the most highly prized in Victoria. From September through to March they are in abundance and depending on where your fishing, the weather will dictate if they are within a cast of not.

Of the most popular land based locations, Port Phillip Bay’s Mt Martha rocks, Mornington Pier, Mordialloc Pier and Beaumaris Pier’s are the pick of locations.

All of which face west, it is the south westerlies and westerly winds that push snapper close into shore.

It is during the westerly or just after it that anglers catch the majority of fish. Once again, a surf rod will aid in casting out baits such as squid heads and rings, pilchards, garfish and scad are the top choices.

Though a paternoster rig will be able to be cast further, a running sinker rig is often more effective. This rig allows the fish to take the bait feeling little resistance as line can be pulled right off the reels spool.

This will prevent the fish from spitting the bait by not feeling any pressure.

You only get one chance at hooking such a s fish so it pays to get it right the first time.

Hooks size will vary amongst anglers but a 5/0 Mustad Octopus circle style hooks will eliminate any chance of the fish dropping the bait.

Berleying is very difficult but you can always chop up pilchards into small cubes and toss them into the water a handful at a time. Providing you have a run out tide, the cubes will travel a short distance which can be enough to bring the fish in closer.


Calamari are surely a top favourite amongst land based anglers as they are very easy to catch. From any of the Piers in both Western Port and Port Phillip Bay calamari can be targeted using a squid jag suspended under a bobby cork float.

The jag can have either a silver whiting or pilchard threaded onto it which is deadly. Alternatively you can use an artificial jig which can be cast and retrieved.

While there are hundreds of different jigs available, those in a white or red foil colour are the top choice.

From the rocks or beach, calamari can also e caught providing you’re casting onto the weed beds. For this a long rod such as a 12ft surf rod will be ample.

Utilizing a squid jag with a bait threaded onto it, it can be cast out and left to float over the weed. If there are any calamari around, they won’t take too long to sniff it out. jd3


Many anglers make the mistake when land based fishing of going too light on fish wit their tackle. Due to the rugged obstacles such as reef, rocks, weed and the pier light line can be severed quickly.

This will ensure that when you do hook a quality fish, you land it.

Another hurdle to be weary of is the amount of snags you’ll encounter when fishing from the land. It always pays too have a selection of varied weighted sinkers and spare tackle should you bust off. You don’t have to take along a tonne of tackle, just the necessities.

Land based fishing is a lot of fun but you always need to make sure that you put yours and other safety first. No fish is worth your life.
Jarrod Day

About Jarrod Day

As a young boy, fishing from the Portsea and Sorrento piers along the Mornington Peninsula coastline was a regular occurrence during the school holidays. My love for fishing grew and many years later now find it much more than a hobby, but a lifestyle. My website has been developed with fishing and photography in mind. Take a look around, I hope you enjoy it.

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