The Australian luderick, also called blackfish, is a challenging fish for many anglers.
Luderick (Girella tricuspidata) are found in estuaries and rocky coastal parts of southern Australia, from Brisbane on the East Coast south to Victoria and northern Tasmania.
They are occasionally seen in South Australian waters, but are most commonly caught from northern NSW south to Victoria’s Mallacoota.
The zebra fish (Girella zebra) is a similar smaller species found mainly in the far south, including South Australia.
Luderick are known for their strong fight and elusiveness, and that they feed mainly on weed.
Green weed, or “cabbage weed,” is the popular bait for luderick, but brown weed and cunjevoi also works.
They are easily identified apart from other fish such as drummer and rock blackfish by the 8-12 narrow vertical bands across the back.
Though mainly herbivorous, they sometimes eat molluscs, prawns and worms.
They grow to 4kg but a 1kg fish is a big one and will fight very hard.
Luderick fishing requires specialized tackle.
A flexible rod between 3-3.7m, with a soft tip, is typically used as it helps get the invariably lightweight rig out to the fish.
A small, quality reel with a smooth drag system and around 3kg or 4kg nylon line is commonly used.
Find fish around rocky areas such as rock walls along river estuaries, sea groynes, drop-offs along river channels, and around estuary bridges.
Cast and let baits drift naturally with the current.
A quill float or bubble float with a small swivel and leader below it can suspend a bait where the fish are feeding.
Luderick can be finicky feeders, and may bite gently.
They often feed in schools, so if you catch one, there may be more.
When you feel a bite, gently lift the rod to set the hook and play the fish carefully, as they have a soft mouth.
Expect a spirited battle.
Luderick fishing tackle
A 3kg spin reel matched with a light 3m+ rod will work well on luderick.
See various eBay light spin combo listings here.
Fine gauge hooks in sizes 10# are suitable, see some eBay hook listings here.
A dedicated rod is best if you plan to target luderick, it may pay to visit a tackle store and get equipped properly for chasing luderick.
Some luderick fishos use sidecast or centrepin reels as these let line out easily for drifting a float, but spinning reels work fine with practice.
Fine long-shank hooks are ideal, and bait-holder style with barbs on the shank may help hold weed so it doesn’t easily slide down the hook shaft.
Luderick generally run in winter, when anglers will be seen lining up at the best spots.
How to prepare luderick for the table
Despite their weedy diet, luderick can make a fine meal.
Ice these fish promptly immediately upon capture.
If cooking whole, remove the dark stomach cavity lining.
Filleting is arguably preferred, cook with a light flour or light batter coating, or crumbed.
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