Elusive hairtail haul a real catch

WHEN Tye Porter sent in this photo of Rhyan Buckley with his haul of hairtail, The Daily Examiner fishing columnist Dick Richards fell out of his chair.

"I haven't seen a catch of hairtail like that for nearly 60 years," Richards said.

"I used to fish for them with my old fishing club in Coal and Candle Creek and Jerusalem Bay in the Kuringai National Park in the 1950s.

"At that time, it was thought that was the only area where they could be found - although they were later identified as the same (or similar) to the frost fish caught in Tokyo Bay."

Richards said winter was the time when they appeared in Coal and Candle, and the colder the night, the better the prospects.

"I can remember how the cold air used to roll down the valley from the high ridges above the water," Richards said.

How to catch them:

"The way we fished for them was with berley in the water, and then a floating bait," Richards said.

"You would know when a fish was at the bait because phosphorus in the water would show about your line.

"The fish has a hard mouth and you needed to let it get a good grip of the bait. They have a very formidable looking mouth, with serrated teeth sloping back.

"The way to take them off the hook was the grasp just behind the head and squeeze until the air bag burst."

He said hairtail were not a bad feed and as they had no scales, the frost could be removed with a rough bag.

"There has been just the occasional catch of hairtail in this area," Richards said.

"Keep the spot secret Rhyan, so that it becomes a challenge for anyone else to find them."



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