Black drummer in the wash

Black drummer in the wash

There are many fish in Australia that have earned a reputation for their hard-fighting and gutter tactics in an attempt to win their freedom, and we hear about them constantly on social media and in magazines. One fish that has these characteristics but doesn’t receive a lot of mentions is the black drummer, also known as rock blackfish, pigs, black tanks, and several other names.

Native to the south east coast of Australia and northern parts of New Zealand, this fish has a loyal following in its heartland: the rocky, headland rich coastline of NSW. In this area, drummer anglers climb onto turbulent headlands in the cooler months and soak baits of cunjevoi, rock crabs, peeled prawn, bread or cabbage weed in the wash and wait for a bite. Then the action really begins!

Gearing up for these fish is fairly straightforward, and the standard gear is a powerful beach rod, good quality spin or sidecast reel, 10-15kg mono line, and a running ball sinker rig, with a size 1 hook.

A Gary Howard Greenback 13’6” 2 Piece 6-10kg Mid Mount with a good quality reel such as an Alvey Surf & Rock 65 GD or Daiwa Saltist Spin Reel will make a nice little drummer outfit. Hooks such as Mustad Big Gun Hooks 10829NPBLN in size 1 to 1/0 are perfect.

Of course, when fishing on the rocks it’s important to exercise caution and safety, especially if fishing the lower ledges for species such as luderick, groper or drummer. Specialised rock fishing shoes such as the Adrenalin rock Spike Fishing Boot will allow you to grip onto slippery rocks and reduce the chances of a wash off.

Once you have your rig and bait, many anglers will use this time to berley. Berley for drummer is no great science, and while some mix up concoctions of bran and bread, others simply peel their prawns and toss the heads into the wash. Some anglers even scuff their feet to dislodge cabbage weed, before allowing the waves to wash it into the zone, creating a natural berley trail.

With everything ready, it’s time to cast out! Don’t be too keen to huck your rig out a long way though, as most drummer will be sitting under white water close to the ledge. It’s for this reason that lead weight can’t be too heavy, as you want your bait to wash around naturally and not stick to the bottom.

Once a drummer eats your bait, it’s bare white-knuckle stuff trying to keep them out of the rocks and kelp, and like a lot of fishing you’ll need to wait for a decent wave to wash the fish - sometimes upwards of 6kg - onto the rocks. Many choose to let them go, but they cook up pretty well if bled and iced down.

Looking for your next challenge on the rocks? Why not give drummer a go! They pull hard, grow big, and they taste great!


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