Fishing with Burley

By Jacks Boric

Fishing with burley is a great way to achieve success, burley can bring in all sorts of fish from far and wide and the lucky dip of what can swim right up to you is quite special. This write up will give you a few quick tips to burleying successfully.

 All forms of burleying should follow one simple principle, "little often". The “little often" principle implies that you feed a small amount of burley out regularly, say 3 pillie cubes and a few small bits every 40 seconds to a minute. Fish will swim up your burley trail looking for the source which should be where your baits are placed, instead of dumping a heap of burley at once where the fish will feed on it quickly and move on. When burleying in blue water for pelagic fish like mackerel, cobia, even fish like snapper that will come to the surface for burley.  The fish should always be able to see the next bit of burley after they eat the last. A broken trail can see prize fish swim off in search for food elsewhere.

Having a few rods with different baits rigged and out at different depths and distance away from the boat is a must but also having a rod ready to go with a bait similar to your burley is a good idea if a fish swims up to the boat in plain sight. When feeding a bait down a burley trail it is important to "drift" your bait down as naturally as possible with the rest of the berley. This means as little weight as practically possible and you may have to feed your bait out a long way, so having a fully spooled reel will help. Sometimes even the little things will help, like if you are drifting a pillie cube down a trail for big finicky fish your hook may be heavy and sinking your bait at a abnormal rate so downsizing your hook or even finding a shorter shanked hook that weighs less can help fool those big smart fish. Fishing lures like soft plastics, jigs, poppers, stick baits and flies through your burley trail can be surprisingly successful. When doing so you need to take into account the angle that your burley is sinking then fish your lure up through your trail to imitate a feeding baitfish. Your lure should imitate the bait that would be feeding on your berley weather that be mullet, bonito, redfin or even squid you must match the hatch.

Different sorts of burley work for different sorts of fish and natural forms of burley found at your location often work the best. For instance, when I fish for whiting in the shallows I simply stir up some sand with my feet then walk back and cast into the disturbed water with a worm or soft plastic like the squidgie wriggler, this can prove itself with great results. The same technique can be used in a river, lake, dam or whatever system that might have a muddy or weedy bank. Even conditions on the day can create a natural burley trail like larger wash and swell from rocks and beaches that churn up the bottom and wash things off the rocks and beaches, or a unusually high tide or rise in the water level of a river or dam. Fish are opportunistic feeders and will always be searching for a feed even in some of the most unsuspecting places. So keep an eye on abnormal conditions where fish may get a free feed and use these burley trails to your advantage, and remember "little often".