by Paul Lennon •
While I love all styles of fishing, I have to admit these days I’m a trophy hunter and really enjoy honing in on the larger models of a particular species.
Doing this usually comes at the cost of less fishing action and takes a pigheaded attitude too not get disheartened by sometimes many fishless trips.
If you are going to fish this way then it’s important that when that fish of a lifetime does come along you’re ready for it. Everything needs to be covered from your bait presentation to your outfits gear and tackle. This typically means running bigger baits on heavier outfits and upsizing everything from the typical gear associated with that particular species.
While there are many trophy fish fish out there where the above principals apply, I’m just going to concentrate on a few of the more popular species
Probably the best way to catch XOS pelagics like kings, cobia and Spanish mackerel is to troll live baits bigger then your typical slimy mackerel or yellowtail.
Slow trolling a live bonito up to 1.5kg is a gun way to get connected to the real jumbo class models of these three species.
If you’re serious about it I would run these on at least 24kg tackle with a 100lb Black Magic fluorocarbon leader. The fluorocarbon Black Magic makes is the best out there, providing unparalleled abrasion resistance, making it perfect for this style of fishing. It’s then a matter of bridle rigging the live bonito onto a Black Magic GZ 9/0 live bait hook and slow trolling around the shallow reefs holding baitfish.
When doing this to target big Spanish mackerel, make sure you run a 60cm length of at least 80lb single strand wire from the hook to a swivel on your 100lb leader.
A stinger hook should also be used by attaching another short length of single strand wire from the eye of the GZ hook to another smaller hook or treble that will go in near the rear of the bonito.
When bait fishing for trophy reds I like to run at least 30lb braid to a 40lb fluorocarbon leader and again use much bigger baits then normally associated with snapper.
The Black Magic fluorocarbon is going to be your best defence against a rampaging red dragging you over the ledge as its abrasion resistance is second to none
Butterflied baits like large yellowtail or slimy mackerel are my favourite to use. To do this, simply fillet the fish from the tail up on both sides and remove the backbone, leaving the head with two fillets still attached. I simply run a single 8/0 Black Magic C Point hook on this, which is fed through the nose an out the gill plate of the fish. For smaller yellowtail, slimy mackerel or squid around the 20cm hood size, I prefer to rig them whole on a snelled rig.
Again, it’s very hard to go past Black Magic C Point hooks for snapper fishing and two 7/0 hooks snelled together through a whole bait won’t often miss the mark
While live baits are without a doubt your best chance to find that dream mulloway, the above described baits for big snapper are also adequate big mulloway dead baits.
If you are using live baits, big is best and things like tailor, luderick or mullet to 1kg are awesome big fish baits.
When fishing out of a boat straight up and down, I prefer to use a single circle Black Magic KLT 8/0 circle hook and pin the bait gently behind the head.
If I’m fishing from the beach or rock walls I like to snell rig my live baits with two large 10/0 C Point hooks, one protruding from just behind the head and the other just before the tail.
Big mulloway are not as dirty fighters as snapper and kings, and for most situations 30lb braid with a 40lb Black Magic leader is fine, even on the biggest models. The exception to this is when fishing around structure like rock walls and bridges. Here mulloway can become a totally differently animal, so upping braid size to around 50lb and leader size to 60lb Black Magic fluorocarbon is a better option.