The common thought of needing to travel up north to catch big tailor is one believed by many keen surf fisherman in Perth. While traveling up north to places like Kalbarri and shark bay will improve your chances of catching big tailor, it is not uncommon for fish in excess of 3kg to be caught along our metro beaches. You just need to figure out when the tailor are most active and where they can be found. Luckily, you will be able to cut years off your own trial and error by reading this. Tailor feeding patterns and prime times have been made very clear from our many years of recording factors such as location, weather, bait and gear.
The weather conditions are a huge factor for catching big metro tailor. Over the many years of looking for the secret to consistently catching big metro tailor, one weather pattern has regularly produced more fish than any other. 15-20 knot winds blowing North Westerly or Westerly have produced the biggest tailor than any other wind. This usually occurs before or after a cold front or trough. The only problems with fishing in these conditions is the seaweed and possible drizzle of rain. Don’t be turned off by a bit of seaweed but when you’re catching it every cast its best to pack up.
While morning fishing will still produce good tailor, I’ve found dusk and night fishing more productive when it’s blowing a fair bit. If I’m fishing at dawn, the fish aren’t too affected by the wind but they’re not as big. Fishing a rising tide right up until it changes has proven itself time after time to be a major feeding time for all surf tailor. Some may disagree, but I'm really big on fishing around the full and new moon. I found the that the tailor are most active around then and you also increase your chances of getting Mulloway and sharks. Get all of these conditions right and you can almost guarantee there are tailor around.
Your location is another key factor. The beaches from Swanbourne to Trigg and the reefs around Cottesloe all have potential to hold massive tailor. Just remember that you don’t need to try casting to Rottnest to try catch a fish. The tailor hang around gutters and holes and a 30 meter cast is usually all you need to get you’re bait into the strike zone. The best way to find a gutter is to firstly look at where the waves are crashing, creating white water. If another wave starts to form after the white water, this will usually indicate a gutter or deeper water (you may want to watch some videos to get a better idea of how to look for them). When the swell is low and there is very little indication of good gutters, the best thing to do is cast over the waves.
The right bait is crucial to catching big tailor. Many anglers still go for Mulies but I’ve found that the majority in bait shops these days won’t last more than a few minutes in the surf. I prefer using more durable baits such as live Snook, Whiting or Herring if you can catch them. If you don’t have live baits fresh Slimy Mackerel, strips of Mullet fillet, Yellowtail and Garfish are the best. Mullet is my favourite bait as you can get it for as little as $4 a kilo in some shops and the smell really gets the tailor fired up. These baits will stay on the hooks in the surf and you normally won’t need to re-bait until you hook up.
Your rigs will make a difference on the hook up rate and the amount of times you actually land a fish. Whilst there are many rigs you can use, I prefer a simple paternoster. You can make the rigs yourself or buy some pre-made ones. The Tuff Rigs 6/0 Tailor Surf Rigs have been hard to beat. They use Gamakatsu’s extremely sharp 6/0 Gangster hooks which give you a hook up nearly every time a big tailor hits you’re bait. These rigs are also virtually tangle free which really help against the strong current and surf. Match this rig with a long strip of mullet fillet, Slimy Mackerel, Yellowtail or Garfish and you’re chance of hooking up and actually landing a big Tailor is very high. If you’re using live baiting, I would recommend a snelled paternoster rig with 6/0 or 8/0 Gamakatsu octopus hooks with 60-100lb leader. A star sinker big enough to hold bottom is required. Sometimes you will hold with 5-6 ounces and other times when the surf is up you will need to adjust to an 8 or even 10 ounce.
A 13 foot Snyder Glass rod matched with an 8000-18000 Shimano size reel or a Penn 850 with 50lb braid is my favourite setup. I use this setup for land based snapper, mulloway and sharks and has never let me down. I make sure to tie a leader to my braid long enough so that my fingers don’t get cut up when I’m casting. I consider the leader knot to be one of the most important things to know when surf fishing. Tie a bulky knot and your line will hit against the guides and don’t expect to cast it very far. The strongest and slimmest knot I use is the FG knot. If you’re in a hurry and the winds blowing, you may want to stick to the Albright special knot. Both of these knots have incredible strength and if tied properly, will pass through the guides no problem.
If you manage to get the right weather, fish the right spots and use the correct gear you will be amazed at the size of the tailor you can catch in Perth.