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Attracting fish could be at the cat's expense

Berley can make the difference between a good catch and no catch, it may be at the expense of the cat though. Steven Bax explains how.

It is quite surprising the different results you can get by doing a little preparation. One thing I always prepare is the berley. Berley is not used enough by Tasmanian anglers, but it is starting to catch on.

Berleying is a way of attracting the fish to you, I use it on every saltwater trip. Almost anything can be used in a berley mix, from vegetable peelings to a can of cat food or a sophisticated secret age old recipe. The key to most berley is tune, or fish oil.

You can mix your own berley with simply a few fish pellets and some tuna oil. Mix two parts of pellets and one of oil.

Don't throw in large amounts of berley, a spoon full every five minutes is plenty. You don't want to feed the fish, just attract them. Throw it up current so it drifts back to you. The fish will often follow the trail right past the boat.

Local bait is always good as berley. A simple technique is to pull a few mussels of the rocks, crush them up and throw these into the water. Another easy thing to do is to keep all the fish heads and cleanings. You can freeze these, and next time you go out you are already half prepared.

Secret recipes include all sorts of things, but a good basic recipe includes; fish pellets, bread crumbs and tuna oil. It won't take long to work out a good mix.

There are several ways to use berley, here are just a few.

If you are rock fishing just throw a small hand full in every ten minutes or so. The back wash will soon distribute it for you.

Surf fishing is quite a bit different. You will need to mix the berley into a dough. This is then put into a "berley sinker'. This is a sinker with a spiral wire spring on to. The berley is put in here and cast out.

Drift fishing. For this you will need a berley bucket. This is placed on a cord of the side of the boat so that you will drift over it. It can be tied of so it bumps over the bottom, or at varying depths for salmon or squid.

If you are too rushed to mix berley, buy a can of cat food, or pre-mixed berley from a tackle shop. This must be tuna based. Punch plenty of holes in it, attach a cord and drop it over the side.

Estuary fishing is perhaps the most rewarding. A different berley cage is needed here. You need one that is a small cage that is attached to run up and down the line. You simply fill the cage up with your mix. It is normally used with a running sinker setup, but can be used as the weight on it's own.

With berley you are replying on the fish to find your berley, then your bait. Sometimes this happens quickly, sometimes slowly, and sometimes not at all. Time and patience is essential.

Most tackle shops can help with berley buckets, bombs and other gear.

Another thing I must stress is; only take as many fish as you need. Fish for fun and food don't destroy your future.