Switch baiting: confusing marlin one catch at a time

I've had several enquiries about the term switch baiting which I used in an article about marlin last week. 

Switch baiting is a technique used when marlin are attracted to a lure but fail to take it because they are suspicious of it or for some reason or it is simply not to their liking. When this happens the preferred technique is to toss the fish a pre-rigged live bait, commonly a slimey mackerel or occasionally a frigate mackerel or striped tuna, previously kept alive in a bait tank or tuna tube.

Marlins finds live fish more to its liking.
Marlins finds live fish more to its liking. 

Commonly the marlin finds the live fish more to its liking, swallows it and a hookup eventuates. The technique is widely used for marlin fishing and has a much higher success rate than lure fishing.

Marlin are hot news along the south coast at present. Large numbers of striped marlin, with some blues and blacks, are showing along the 100 fathom line and beyond from Ulladulla all the way to Merimbula, with especially good concentrations off Narooma and Bermagui.

Anglers are recording multiple hookups in a day and some good-sized fish have been captured. Most of the fish are released alive but an occasional specimen is brought home for weighing and for the table.

Kings and tailor

Rock platforms and breakwaters were popular and productive locations last week. Kingfish showed at the southern end of Mystery Bay and the rocks at Broulee. Solid tailor took lures and bait with gusto at the Moruya Breakwater.


Googong busy

Sam Hancox had Googong to himself last week when he landed his giant Murray cod but as word spread anglers descended on the waterway from far and wide. They weren't disappointed , either.

Many small Murray cod landed, on lure and bait, but a couple of monsters thrilled the crowd. One fish caught on a lure was estimated at 130cm and several others close to the magic one metre mark were reported. Most of the larger fish were taken on spinnerbaits and large hard-bodied lures. The fish came from all over the reservoir but the best of them were caught along the rocky shoreline at the southern end of the waterway.

Golden perch were caught on soft plastics and hard-bodied lures, with the best hauls made on Jackalls and Burrinjuck Specials. The best fish again came from the southern end of the lake.

Lots of small redfin were caught right through the waterway but anglers who deliberately targeted the larger specimens did well, using Mask Vibes and Kokoda copies ten to 12 metres down in various parts of the lake.

Bass finally show

Bass stocked as fingerlings in Pejar Reservoir some years ago have finally shown as adult fish. An angler lure fishing for trout landed three adult bass, one 34cm in length and two at 32cm. Bass are native to the Pejar area, which is in fact the top end of the Nepean River system but have not been seen there for many years and the stocking program is designed to reintroduce a population of the popular sport fish. These are the first fish reported from the stocking.

Goldens at burrinjuck

Anglers working the flooded trees in the Murrumbidgee Arm of Burrinjuck Reservoir reported good catches of golden perch on black soft plastic grubs. The successful technique involved a slow lift and drop in the ten to fifteen metre zone followed by a hard strike when a fish was felt fumbling with the lure.

Cup success

The Canberra Native Cup being fished in Lake Burley Griffin got off to a good start last week when about half of the contestants weighed in fish. The competition is to be fished each Thursday night for eight weeks and Murray cod, golden perch and redfin are all eligible species for points.

Bryan Pratt is a Canberra-based ecologist