Berley dispensing around the rocks is very carefully carried out by Japanese rock fishers.
This is because the berley trail must be accurately formed so the direction and depth of the trail is relatively controlled and becomes predictable to the angler. This way he can set baits at the optimal depth and position, which in turn produces a better success rate.
This article addresses some of the common equipment and techniques of berley and bait ‘cuisine’, with silver drummer as examples. This is because they’re hard to catch, with berley and bait techniques needing to be mastered for consistent success.
The first thing required is a berley box to hold the berley being dispensed. Normally I use two berley sausages, which are defrosted before fishing. The contents become a bag full of squashy berley material that can be dispensed or flicked out in small quantities using a long-handled berley spoon. (Note that red food colouring has been added to the defrosted berley sausage in the image for better illustration purposes.)
The little orange bait box attached to the main berley box is not a must, but it can be very efficient, as the cut-up bait used is very small and the bait box keeps them fresh.
The angler then simply flicks out regular spoonfuls of defrosted berley into the area being fished.
The quantity and frequency of these flicks depends on many factors, such as the tide, current, depth and the fishes’ activity in the area, but provided it is constant in terms of quantity and position, a solid berley trail will form over time.
As the line’s float is directly above the terminal rig, it indicates the general fishing area, while the position of the woolly stopper on the mainline determines the depth of fishing. Then there’s the brightly coloured in-water sinker, which indicates the current direction as it sinks. Once all this information has been taken into account, the angler can flick the berley out into the correct area – but obviously this won’t be directly at the float, because the hook will not be close enough underneath to take advantage of it.
As the berley must disperse upon hitting the water, the angler may need to flick it out with a bit of power, with the extra impact helping to break the berley up into many smaller pieces that cover a greater area and stay suspended in the water for longer. Berley that stays in one big chunk is prone to being picked up by seagulls or gulped down by passing kahawai before it can disperse.
Also, as the berley will not sink directly to the bottom, due to wave and underwater current, the angler must be aware of the speed at which it sinks. This will allow him to adjust the berley’s entry point so that it sinks and passes through the water column where the bait is set.
Getting the berley and bait present in the right depth at the same time is critically important, as the fish will not just swim through the berley trail, but also be able to see and take the small bait.
The usual species of kahawai, trevally and snapper will usually turn up and respond to the berley trail reasonably well if it is dispensed regularly. However, species such as silver drummer and parore are relatively slow or shy when competing for food against other species, so tend not to swim so obviously amongst the berley trail. And as they have quite small mouths, even when they do find a bait, if it’s on a big hook, it’s unlikely to be eaten.
The image on the previous page shows a 3kg silver drummer and the size of its relatively small mouth. This means a very small hook and a strip of squid are best suited to these delicately feeding big boys. Squid is the preferred bait, as it can be cut up into very small pieces, stays on the hook, drifts well, and can withstand the picking of little fish before the drummer arrives.
The annotated image, upper right, will help to explain the system better: it shows an iso tsuri float rig in the water, with 1 being the woolly stopper; 2 the rubber bead; 3 the float; and 4 the in-water sinker.
Arrow A points to the direction the line travels through the float as the in-water sinker and bait descend. The bait and sinker stop sinking as soon as the woolly stopper and the rubber bead reaches the float. With the stopper at the float, the angler knows that the bait has sunk into the set depth.
Arrow B indicates the rig under water, with the bend in the arrow illustrating the shape of the underwater rig when influenced by current. Ideally the underwater section of the rig should be as straight as possible, in line with the current. This ensures the angler can detect the bite indication more quickly, as the fish does not need to pull the underwater section of the rig far before the float is pulled under. This is why an in-water sinker is used rather than a conventional sinker, because it drifts better in the current and keeps the bend of Arrow B as minimal as possible. The hook is often drifting at the tip of Arrow B.
Sometimes, the fish does not necessarily pull the line when it takes the bait. It may swim left, right, or even towards the float. In this case the float will not sink, but the bright yellow in-water sinker will come into play. With polarised lenses, the angler can easily pick up the ‘unnatural’ movement of the in-water sinker. If it suddenly moves left, right, against the current or even surfaces, the angler responds by striking.
A good understanding of the underwater terrain and current helps the angler to dispense the berley so a perfect tunnel of ‘cuisine’ is created, which in turn leads the target species to the waiting bait.
This article is reproduced with permission of
New Zealand Fishing News
2008 - by Steven Sun
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited