Targeting Tailor in the Surf
Tailor Close Up - watch your fingers
Slicing through the flesh and bone of bait fish is a daily practice for tailor. Those who have carelessly placed fingers in range of their sharp teeth rarely forget the lesson.Prime fishing times are dawn, dusk and night preferably with a rising tide, but don't dismiss the ebb or daytime fishing if bait schools are active, when a high speed retrieve with chrome lures can bring exciting results. If fishing at night do not shine lights in the water or swing your headlights into the water to have a look around if you are a late arrival.
Tailor have been known to regurgitate previous meals in order to attack and eat other food, why? perhaps because the bait fish had the audacity to be in the same water as this ferocious hunter, or maybe because tailor are just a nasty piece of work. Why I mention this is so you know tailor are on the job looking for prey almost 24/7.
Long medium action rods with enough grunt to heave heavy baits a good distance are essential. Match with line in the 8 to 12 kg range and there are few tailor that you won't be able to stop.
1 to 2kg can be targeted using pilchards, but for large fish 2kg+ we will want very fresh cut baits of mullet, tailor, bonito or tuna cut into strips as large as 25cm long and 5 to 6 cm wide into a rough fish shape. Exact shape is not of great importance however streamlining the bait for casting will add many metres distance to your cast.
A multi strand wire trace will cut down the number of bites but will decrease the number of bite offs you will suffer from the toothy critters. Hook size should be between 5/0 and 7/0 fished singly or as two gang rigs, snooding is effective also.
Sinker selection is important and up to a 10 ball (sometimes more) may be required to anchor your bait wide in strong current. Casting and holding in the white water is head start to catching the bigger fish.
Now it becomes a waiting game and this is where a sand spike will come in handy to rest your rod in. Small bites will be noticed which most likely will come from smaller tailor and bream. Striking at these bites can be somewhat frustrating but can result in some quality bream being landed. Baits need to checked approximately every 20 minutes to ensure the pickers have removed your offering to the big tailor.
A big tailors bite when it comes is hard to miss, a strong pull down of the rod usually followed by a second as the fish starts to run. Pick up your rod take up any slack that may be present, then strike reasonably hard and hold on the fight has just begun.
Just a little one you may be thinking, but this is a common trick as large fish will often swim straight toward you till just before the shore break then do a powerful 180 degree turn and race straight out at a great rate of knots. Now you know this isn't a little fish and line will be peeling strongly from your reel. Don't rush, constant and maintained pressure as several jumps may be seen or felt depending on available light.
Landing fish of this size should be timed with the aid of an incoming wave to help wash your catch up onto the beach. A gaff can be used but is really not necessary.
Surf Caught TailorA very clean blue green fish with a slightly dark flesh that is very palatable when iced down quickly and eaten fresh.
Tailor can at times be difficult to hook when they are "rushing" baits, eg picking up the bait and running hard toward the beach. If you are missing hookups in this way try as you wind taking 2 or 3 quick back steps just prior to striking.