The rocky coastline provides a perfect habitat for cornering a couple of our very best fighting fish. One is the Rock Blackfish, more commonly known as the Black Drummer. Not to be confused with the Silver Drummer, the Black Drummer, apart from putting up a “no holds barred” battle, is also a much under-rated kitchen fish. Bumpy sea  conditions drive Drummer crackers, as they scavenge through the white water in search of any shell fish that has lost its grip. Rough seas also provide ideal conditions for wrestling thumping Snapper off the rocks, and you don’t need me to tell you how they perform in the kitchen. 

When fishing for Drummer or Snapper off the rocks, use a bread berley mixed to a muddy consistency, regularly ladled into the wash. For Drummer, the best baits are cunjevoi, rock crabs or big prawns. Snapper will also attack the fore-mentioned baits along with squid, octopus tentacles, and pilchards. Don’t muck around with light line. I prefer nothing less than 12 kg line and, when the fish pull, I pull harder.

Be aware that fishing for Drummer and Snapper off the rocks can be dangerous, and every precaution must be taken not to get swept into the washing-machine conditions. Consideration should also be given as to how you intend to react, and what steps you will take, if you are  washed in – a plan B. I’ve been in the drink a couple of times, and I can assure you that it is scary.

Firstly, never take kids with you on a rock fishing excursion – rock fishing and kids do not mix. Always wear a safety vest or a wet suit, and don’t ever believe that you can predict the sea. If you think that I hesitate to recommend that you go rock fishing, then you are right. However, I am aware that whatever I say will not stop recreational fishermen from pushing the limits. All I can do is recommend ways to increase your chances of survival.

It’s a really good idea to go fishing with a mate, and consider the tide and swell, and devise an exit plan before you cast your line. Never turn your back to the sea, and always wear non-slip footwear. If in doubt, don’t!

The decision as to whether life vests will become compulsory, in your area, now rests with local councils.

It is my opinion that a responsible outcome will see all rock fishermen required to wear a safety vest, which will keep you afloat if you are unfortunate enough to topple in. I have no problem with this expected change, as I believe that you have a greater chance of survival on the surface than under it. The rescue organisations are supportive of the move, as it makes their job easier. My only question is how will the new law be policed when we are already understaffed?

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