Still hooked on an old favourite

Joachim AzzopardiCountryman

Casting a mulie or spinning a metal lure into the surf for tailor is the epitome of fishing for thousands of anglers around the southern half of WA.

There wouldn't be many beach rods bought at WA tackle stores that were not christened by a tailor catch.

The first serious beach rod and reel I saved up for was certainly adorned with tailor scales after its first session at Floreat beach. The combination was a MT144 8 wrap and a 9500ss loaded with more than half a kilometre of 10kg monofilament.

I remember choosing this rather heavy set-up because of being under-gunned on many occasions when dad would take me and my brothers beach fishing along the metropolitan coast and other parts of WA.

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It was this combo that I used for a good 10 years while fishing the Swanbourne beach stretch and it gave me some of the best tailor sessions I have experienced to this day.

While the thick fibreglass rod and reel manufactured with brass gears was better suited for fishing with baits because of its weight, I still used this combo while spinning metal lures in the early morning and around dusk along Swanbourne.

One morning in particular is still a very vivid memory - when I caught nine tailor between 45 and 55cm on a 70g gold Halco Twisty at a place I later named Horse's Hole.

It was the first time I had spun lures along Swanbourne beach and from that day I was hooked on catching tailor, especially on lures and particularly at Horse's Hole.

For the following three years after stumbling across 'The Hole', as it is now affectionately known, I would wake up early and sneak in a couple of hours of spinning.

On the mornings I did not wake up early enough, I would fish the afternoons, even if a strong south-westerly was blowing.

I would start spinning from the beach in front of the car park and walk up towards The Hole, which would, nine out of 10 sessions, produce more strikes than any other area along the stretch.

While most of my spinning was done in the summer months between November and March, it was in April and May when bigger tailor - fish to 5kg - would follow the mullet schools along the reef that appeared once the sand moved off it in summer.

During these months, big poppers, storm garfish and blue mackerel were lethal on tailor to 90cm long.

I used to love seeing the bend in the heavy rod when one of these brutes would strike in the glassy conditions that autumn often brings and I would be ecstatic when its glistening body was finally flapping on the shore.

I must admit, though, I do not fish Swanbourne as much as I used to.

At least a couple of times a month I will visit The Hole for a bait session and usually pick up some tailor and the odd small shark but I certainly don't spin there all that often.

But the Sunday just gone may have opened a new chapter after fellow angler Sam Thomson and I decided to spin along the 'Swanny stretch'.

We weren't expecting much because we did not know of any tailor frequenting the area or pay any attention to the moon and tides.

Sam spun a 40g Twisty for most of the session and I persisted with an 80g Yozuri Blanka II, which was probably a bit too heavy, but it pierced through the southerly that was blowing when we first got down there.

I must mention that I have downsized my rod and reel a touch but it is still capable of punching out an 80g lure.

It wasn't too long before I got my first hit from a tailor - it felt around 45cm - about 150m north of the surf club. But it managed to use the heavy metal to shake the trebles from its jaw.

The hour following the first strike was very quiet, despite some committed casts at The Hole.

We decided to walk back to Swanbourne reef, where we first started, and on Sam's third cast there he hooked up and brought in a well-conditioned tailor of about a kilo.

As they used to about 10 years ago when I frequently fished this stretch, the tailor were schooling around the reef on sunset and Sam and I enjoyed the remaining half an hour of light catching tailor on metal lures.

This one afternoon made Sam want to spend some time spinning lures before and after work and it would not surprise me if I'm back down at Swanbourne joining him.

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