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As John Dory season approaches, I thought Raiders might be interested in a couple of methods of catching these extra tasty fish. The following information is generally intended for those who fish the wharves and shoreline, although the basic ideas could also be applied by boat fishers.  There are no doubt, other methods, this is what has worked for my mates and I. We fished Taronga Park Wharf and originally, Tailor and Larger Flathead were the intended quarry.  We all used 2 'big' lines each, one with a live yakka and the other a fillet. A third, much lighter line was also used to fish for yellowtail. Even though we all had rods and reels, everybody chose hand-lines for fishing the wharf, because you could have one each side of you plus your yakka line and space was fairly limited as it was such a popular fishing spot.  At first, nobody used any lead on either line, simply letting the bait sink slowly to the bottom, covering the entire water-column.  However, when using live yellowtail, if you didn't keep an eye on them, "monumental" tangles would often occur.  It was due to one of these tangles, involving about 10 lines that caused us to add a sinker to the live bait. I have to admit, the sinker was only added so as to keep everybody's 'livie' in close proximity to 'their' own space on the wharf.  All of a sudden we started catching a few John Dory, not many at first, but considering we'd all been fishing there regularly with live bait and had probably only seen less than a dozen caught over a couple of years, it was quite significant.  Over the space of the next month, we worked out some 'vital' pieces of information, which lead to John Dory becoming a genuinely "targeted" species, instead of just a "lucky" by-catch.  Firstly, for the most part, Dory seemed to live no more than about a metre or so off the bottom(or so we thought) Secondly, they only took live bait(we thought yellowtail) and Thirdly, they would only bite at high tide.  So by using live yellowtail, well weighted down at high tide you stood a reasonable chance of getting one. This information  greatly increased the amount of Dory being landed,and over the next few cold winter months a Dory rig was "developed"- it is still the same rig we are using some 40 years on and is as follows: Instead of a rod, a 6 to 8 inch(15-20 cm) plastic handcaster filled with 12-15 lb(5-7 kg) mono)- a ball sinker about the size of a ten cent coin is fed on, then a swivel, From the swivel an 18 inch(45 cm) leader of  7-10 lb(3.2-4.5 kg- we used mono but fluorocarbon is probably best) and then a 2/0 suicide('octopus') pattern hook. That's it, simple. The live bait is then hooked through the mouth by inserting the hook point in through the mouth and pulling the hook point out in the base of the eye-socket, being careful you don't puncture the eye itself, It's much easier than it sounds and can be done very quickly. The reasons for doing this? 1) John Dory always swallow the bait head first and are better hooked 'deep' rather than in the membrane of their mouths, this way they are usually hooked in the entrance to their gullet. 2) After hooking a Dory, your bait-fish will slide up the line often relatively unharmed(well seemingly, considering they've just been swallowed!)-which enables them to be used again,after removing the hook from the Dory you slide the bait back into original position. At this point people often ask "why not just use a new 'fresher' bait fish?  Again 2 main reasons, 1)John Dory readily take injured or slower moving bait and a less active one is very attractive to the opportunistic and fairly slow moving Dory 2) As Dory often travel in pairs or very small schools in the harbour, getting the bait back down to the location you've just got one from, can quickly result in secondary or even multiple catches on the one bait. I have both caught myself and watched two others land 4 Dory on a single live -bait, and seen 2 caught on the same bait multiple times. Each time the bait has slid up the line, fish unhooked and bait quickly re-positioned and another fish has taken it almost immediately. Bear this in mind when you land one!  The 2/0 suicide is the best 'match' for the small baitfish and results in a more positive deeper hook-up. Note I haven't used circle hooks for Dory and as the strike to hook-up ratio is usually near enough to 100%(as they completely swallow the bait) and have no intention of releasing them when caught, I doubt I would even try them. If anyone does, I would be most interested to hear their opinion.  Once the bait has been hooked-up it is then lowered straight down from the wharf until the sinker hits the bottom,then the sinker is raised no more than 60 cm- having your bait in the "strike -zone" close to the bottom but not on it. The reason for the large sinker size? Keeps the bait hanging straight down, with a limited range of movement, making it easy for Dory to catch and also positions your bait in  the exact area you have chosen for it. This is a really important factor when there are several others fishing the same way- you want your bait to be the first one noticed. The other reason is Dory love to sneak up on their prey, often coming out from behind a pylon, or kelp patch.  In the case of locations that have saltwater fenced-off baths like Balmoral,Watsons Bay,Gunnamatta Bay and Forty Baskets, which are all well known Dory spots, the Dory will often "float" along or "sail" almost motionless along the pool fence or net, before launching the strike at their selected prey. When wharf fishing, having your bait within a metre from a pylon always seems to be the best,affording the Dory a vantage point from which to sneak up on the bait.  After positioning the bait, if you can(without causing a 'trip-hazard' for others) move your hand-caster/line at least a metre or 2 back from the edge,as although they aren't renown for either speed (or stamina) they grab and inhale the bait in the blink of an eye,sending many a spool over the edge into the harbour. Also be careful not to interfere with the depth you've just set it,remember you want the bait to be only just off the bottom. Upon receiving a bite, you can strike straight away, as the fish pretty much swallows the bait fish down in one motion, no need to give it any line.  The other rig is a small running bobby cork, about the size of a small egg, followed by a ball sinker(size 01,1,or 2-basically enough weight to keep your bait down )sitting on top of a swivel, followed by a 60-70 cm leader of same strength as rig 1. The cork is set to a depth of 3 to 4 metres and baited the same as previous method. This method is preferred when fishing shallower areas like Balmoral Wharf, Clifton Gardens and most saltwater baths like those mentioned above. The reason? you can drift your bait close to the bottom over a wider area. The only time we use this rig when fishing deeper locations like the old zoo wharf (fishing is no longer allowed there)and Cremorne Wharf for example is when the schools of bait-fish are holding close to the surface and well within sight. The general 'rule of thumb' is -when you can see the bait, you use a bobby cork, and when you can't see them you use the sinker rig, as like most predatory species, John Dory are usually lurking close to their food.  Other things to note are: Dory actively feed on the slack-water periods of both high and low tide, with a high tide an hour or so after sunrise my favourite time to fish for them, but can be caught on these slack tides at pretty much any time of day.  A common misconception is that they mainly eat yellowtail. After examining the gut contents of heaps of Dory over many years, I've come to the conclusion that pretty much any small bait-fish are likely 'prey candidates', however , there are some that the Dory genuinely seem to prefer. My favourite live bait for them would be 1) Mado(black and white horizontal lines and yellow tail)- Dory love them! 2)Small Trumpeters 3) Yakkas.  In conclusion, they are not a species that are known for great size(averaging 700gms to about a kilo, with a biggish one over 1.5 kg) nor are they caught in large numbers. They also aren't in any way regarded as a sports-fish, fighting only marginally harder than a Fantail-Leatherjacket! I have had success using both "Glowbait" and Fluoroscene(plumbers drain marking powder) which is applied to the bait-fish's "slime", making them really stand out visually. The only time I ever used these bait 'enhancers' was when there were quite a few others fishing same bait and rig, at these times, and with limited Dory available, it was wise to gain the 'advantage' of having a bait so easily seen. AREA: I've fished purposely for and caught Dory at all of the following locations:  Taronga(fishing no longer allowed) Cremorne, Musgrave St, Kuraba, Clifton Gardens, Balmoral, Forty Baskets and Watsons Bay wharves; the eastern side of the 'Gasworks' point at Manly, White Rock and Elizabeth Bay from the shore. In the boat from both "Wedding Cakes", Clifton Gardens 'trench' and the deep hole on the eastern side of Shark Island. In Cowan, as 'by-catch' Hairtail fishing Akuna, Waratah AND Jerusalem Bays and in Port Hacking at Gunnamatta Bay and Lilli Pilli. The largest haul of Dory I've ever seen was caught outside at "The Colours" off South Head and I caught a couple out at the Peak when live-baiting for Kingfish. What keeps you getting out after them on freezing cold winter mornings is how they taste. Mmmm Delicious. Hope this helps you catch a few!

Edited by wazatherfisherman
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Hi Waza. I really enjoyed reading your "how to catch John Dory". Absolutely brim full of great information on all aspects of the art. Can I make a suggestion, which I hope you will seriously consider? Slightly edit your post to separate the "personal detail" from the "how to" detail and put the "how to" detail in the article section of Fishraider. Here it will stay as a PERMANENT record for others to read in years to come. What you have there is a great resource for any angler wishing to improve their skills catching John Dory. Thanks for posting it mate. Cheers, bn

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Great info there, Waza! As Big Neil says, it has the making of a great article for the Articles section!

Wow! A ball sinker the size of a 10c piece! I don’t think I’ve ever used a ball sinker that big, even in the surf or the strong tidal flow in the Hawkesbury. Interesting... but I can see the benefits for that “up/down method” of yours. ? I’ve never caught a JD.

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Yes totally agree these are great for the Articles section Neil. I have had a few convos with wazza about his wealth of experience and information and sharing of it all. 

For the moment I will pin this till we sort out where we will put these. 

 

 

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Thanks Wazza very interesting write up.

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6 hours ago, big Neil said:

Hi Waza. I really enjoyed reading your "how to catch John Dory". Absolutely brim full of great information on all aspects of the art. Can I make a suggestion, which I hope you will seriously consider? Slightly edit your post to separate the "personal detail" from the "how to" detail and put the "how to" detail in the article section of Fishraider. Here it will stay as a PERMANENT record for others to read in years to come. What you have there is a great resource for any angler wishing to improve their skills catching John Dory. Thanks for posting it mate. Cheers, bn

Hi Neil I'm glad you enjoyed it! The only reason I put the personal detail in at all was I wanted readers to understand that even though we were relatively new to fishing and had limited experience at the time, we almost "stumbled" across how to catch Dory(via that huge tangle) and the "evolution" of our tactics from that point on. I'll try to do as you've suggested and thanks for the encouragement . Cheers Wazza

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7 hours ago, Berleyguts said:

Great info there, Waza! As Big Neil says, it has the making of a great article for the Articles section!

Wow! A ball sinker the size of a 10c piece! I don’t think I’ve ever used a ball sinker that big, even in the surf or the strong tidal flow in the Hawkesbury. Interesting... but I can see the benefits for that “up/down method” of yours. ? I’ve never caught a JD.

Thanks Baz, you can imagine what the wharf was like once everybody had seen Dory consistently caught on that rig!- every fisho there started doing it and there were plenty of arguments due to tangles. The big sinker was just as much about keeping in one's own "territory" as it was in keeping yakka down. Eventually we worked out by clipping yakka's tail fin shorter,it's range of movement was better restricted and became more attractive to Dory! Necessity such as that, lead to the "refinements"!  Cheers Wazza

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3 hours ago, Welster said:

Thanks Wazza very interesting write up.

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it - who'd of thought a Mado was good for anything! Cheers Wazza

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4 hours ago, mrsswordfisherman said:

Yes totally agree these are great for the Articles section Neil. I have had a few convos with wazza about his wealth of experience and information and sharing of it all. 

For the moment I will pin this till we sort out where we will put these. 

 

 

Thanks for all your encouragement! I am slowly working out what to do re computer! Cheers Wazza

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1 hour ago, wazatherfisherman said:

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it - who'd of thought a Mado was good for anything! Cheers Wazza

We caught a huge cuttle fish on a live one once.   

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4 minutes ago, Welster said:

We caught a huge cuttle fish on a live one once.   

The theory JD's prefer Mado simply because they are easier for them to catch- as they aren't as "athletic" and quick as yakkas, has surfaced many times over the years, whatever the reason,be it taste,smell.sight or agility I'm not sure, but I'd always choose(and recommend) one over a yakka! Years ago, Joe Ritchie,who was one of the pioneers of "vertical spinning for kingies"(jigging) caught a Marlin on a mado fishing solo in his new boat!

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24 minutes ago, wazatherfisherman said:

The theory JD's prefer Mado simply because they are easier for them to catch- as they aren't as "athletic" and quick as yakkas, has surfaced many times over the years, whatever the reason,be it taste,smell.sight or agility I'm not sure, but I'd always choose(and recommend) one over a yakka! Years ago, Joe Ritchie,who was one of the pioneers of "vertical spinning for kingies"(jigging) caught a Marlin on a mado fishing solo in his new boat!

A marlin on a Mado is good going.

Have you tried trimming the fins on yakkas for John Dory?

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2 minutes ago, Welster said:

A marlin on a Mado is good going.

Have you tried trimming the fins on yakkas for John Dory?

G'day again- yes one of many things I neglected to mention was to cut the bottom lobe of the tail-fin approximately in half, it keeps the yakka swimming lower and prevents it from accelerating away from JD. I also had success using both "Glowbait" and fluoroscene(plumbers drain marking powder) which was applied to the 'slime' of the yakka making it really stand out. I usually only used these products when there were a lot of other people using same live bait. The Marlin was hooked only a few hundred metres out from Sydney Heads on his maiden voyage in the new boat. 

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3 hours ago, wazatherfisherman said:

Thanks Baz, you can imagine what the wharf was like once everybody had seen Dory consistently caught on that rig!- every fisho there started doing it and there were plenty of arguments due to tangles. The big sinker was just as much about keeping in one's own "territory" as it was in keeping yakka down. Eventually we worked out by clipping yakka's tail fin shorter,it's range of movement was better restricted and became more attractive to Dory! Necessity such as that, lead to the "refinements"!  Cheers Wazza

Necessity is the mother of invention. ?

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I dug out this post because I was sitting at home watching “Git Your Fush On” (Kiwi show - Get Your Fish On) on my day off and I’m still too sick to do much other than to sit down and read & watch TV. The girls were fishing against the guys but were losing because they were catching snapper and snapper were a negative score. Go figure, eh, Scratchie?!

Anyway, they got back on the board with a John Dory. The rig they used was a paternoster variation with a decent sized sinker on the bottom and a sliding dropper. The hook and trace was tied to a swivel which slid up and down on the line between the sinker and another swivel about a metre above it. This allowed the yakka to move around but not too much for the slow swimming JD. It worked well.

I’ve never fished for or caught John Dory and was wondering if they can be caught outside on live bait grounds like at Mrs Murphy’s at Port Stephens, not just in estuaries. Any thoughts?

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2 hours ago, Berleyguts said:

I dug out this post because I was sitting at home watching “Git Your Fush On” (Kiwi show - Get Your Fish On) on my day off and I’m still too sick to do much other than to sit down and read & watch TV. The girls were fishing against the guys but were losing because they were catching snapper and snapper were a negative score. Go figure, eh, Scratchie?!

Anyway, they got back on the board with a John Dory. The rig they used was a paternoster variation with a decent sized sinker on the bottom and a sliding dropper. The hook and trace was tied to a swivel which slid up and down on the line between the sinker and another swivel about a metre above it. This allowed the yakka to move around but not too much for the slow swimming JD. It worked well.

I’ve never fished for or caught John Dory and was wondering if they can be caught outside on live bait grounds like at Mrs Murphy’s at Port Stephens, not just in estuaries. Any thoughts?

G'day Baz  the biggest Dory I've seen were caught at the Peak while live-baiting for Kingies down near the bottom using foot long yakkas, As for closer in, the biggest catch of them I ever saw was taken at The Colours, which isn't that far out off South Head. These were also caught while going for Kings, again fished close to the bottom. Best suggestion I can offer is to catch some mado's, hook them through the mouth and set them very close to the bottom at slack tide, high or low, as this is when they seem to be most active feeding. Once the tide starts moving again, they seem to lose interest. This is an observation from watching them swimming close to bait schools at Balmoral Beach in the harbour. When the tide was really close to high(I personally prefer high tide if planning a Dory trip) they stopped swimming and started "floating/sailing" with Dorsal fin extended and would then freely take whatever live bait presented- on several occasions I saw them bypass a yakka under a bobby cork to grab a Mado fished on the same rig, leader and depth, even though the yakka had tail clipped and was at closer range. By using Mado you probably won't get 'bothered' by as many other species and I personally reckon they are Dory's favourite as they've outfished yakkas almost every time I've seen them used. I have had a long running difference of opinion with a couple of my mates re Dory "preferring" Mado to yakka, they argue that the Mado are simply easier for JD to catch. My opinion is they eat them all the time, easier to catch or not. This has been based not just on observation, but by fish caught using both baits on same set-up, at same time. Have you ever put a live bait down deep at Mrs Murphy's? I've fished for Garfish at Shoal Bay quite a few times- there used to be a trawler the "Peter B" moored not far from the game fishing wharf and we used to go and anchor somewhere around it as there were always gars around there when we were there after Christmas(love eating those big gars!) and I reckon that the terrain there is similar to the bottom at Balmoral. Perhaps JD 'sneak around' there high tide in the early morning? Just berley up some bait schools and if JD are around it would be worthwhile. They are usually lurking around bait schools, so it seems logical they'd be at Mrs Murphy's- maybe nobody(or nobody lets on!)drops a live bait over there? I'd be very interested to hear how you go. Cheers Waza

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1 hour ago, wazatherfisherman said:

G'day Baz  the biggest Dory I've seen were caught at the Peak while live-baiting for Kingies down near the bottom using foot long yakkas, As for closer in, the biggest catch of them I ever saw was taken at The Colours, which isn't that far out off South Head. These were also caught while going for Kings, again fished close to the bottom. Best suggestion I can offer is to catch some mado's, hook them through the mouth and set them very close to the bottom at slack tide, high or low, as this is when they seem to be most active feeding. Once the tide starts moving again, they seem to lose interest. This is an observation from watching them swimming close to bait schools at Balmoral Beach in the harbour. When the tide was really close to high(I personally prefer high tide if planning a Dory trip) they stopped swimming and started "floating/sailing" with Dorsal fin extended and would then freely take whatever live bait presented- on several occasions I saw them bypass a yakka under a bobby cork to grab a Mado fished on the same rig, leader and depth, even though the yakka had tail clipped and was at closer range. By using Mado you probably won't get 'bothered' by as many other species and I personally reckon they are Dory's favourite as they've outfished yakkas almost every time I've seen them used. I have had a long running difference of opinion with a couple of my mates re Dory "preferring" Mado to yakka, they argue that the Mado are simply easier for JD to catch. My opinion is they eat them all the time, easier to catch or not. This has been based not just on observation, but by fish caught using both baits on same set-up, at same time. Have you ever put a live bait down deep at Mrs Murphy's? I've fished for Garfish at Shoal Bay quite a few times- there used to be a trawler the "Peter B" moored not far from the game fishing wharf and we used to go and anchor somewhere around it as there were always gars around there when we were there after Christmas(love eating those big gars!) and I reckon that the terrain there is similar to the bottom at Balmoral. Perhaps JD 'sneak around' there high tide in the early morning? Just berley up some bait schools and if JD are around it would be worthwhile. They are usually lurking around bait schools, so it seems logical they'd be at Mrs Murphy's- maybe nobody(or nobody lets on!)drops a live bait over there? I'd be very interested to hear how you go. Cheers Waza

I’ve had a live bait out under a balloon at Mrs Murphy’s. I might pop one down deep next time and see how I go. I’m certain there’s more than just bait there. You watch... I probably won’t be able to catch a Mado now!

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14 minutes ago, Berleyguts said:

I’ve had a live bait out under a balloon at Mrs Murphy’s. I might pop one down deep next time and see how I go. I’m certain there’s more than just bait there. You watch... I probably won’t be able to catch a Mado now!

Once you've eaten a fresh caught JD you'll become a Mado 'specialist' also! Anything that helps get a succulent Dory into the pan is worth doing! Qlder's rave about Red Emperor and Coral Trout, Vics and South Aussies of King George Whiting and Top-enders of Barra and Baldchin etc- I've eaten them all and I reckon Dory sit above the lot. The week before our Big Neil Dory trip they were selling fillets at my local fish shop for $55 kg and sold out in a few hours

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I just reckon chasing JD near Mrs Murphy’s/Tomaree might be a good option when the westerlies are howling. I could get in there out of the wind. Might be worth a go when options are limited.

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For sure! If it turns out they are there, catching (then eating) one is really satisfying especially on otherwise 'blown-out" winter days

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Briefly, my experiences from many years ago was to use any small fish as a livie. I did catch a few on dead fish fillets, and one on a large squid head sitting on the bottom.

Dory will swim into shallow water to catch small fish, and I have caught 2 that turned side-on to swim into several cms of water to catch the fish, only to find they cannot swim backwards, so it was a matter of picking them up by hand.

My best catch in Port Hacking with one of my brother's was 10 Dory in one morning between us. (many years ago)

One year the Dories in Dolans Bay were under the 30cm mark, as small as 28 cm, so they were released, but that has not been done too often.

As for the large ball sinker, I only used pea sized sinkers directly above a 5/0 suicide hook.

The larger yakkas had their tail fins trimmed off to slow them down, as I watched the small Dories swimming like mad to catch the speedy yakkas.

Have observed Dories trying to catch sea mullet longer than themselves, they did not catch any but they were persistent  and kept trying.

In Gunnamatta Bay, most Dories had small whiting in the stomachs, whereas in South West Arm, the predominant fish eaten were small blackfish. Other places were a mixture of everything that swam past.

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On 4/29/2018 at 4:12 PM, wazatherfisherman said:

The theory JD's prefer Mado simply because they are easier for them to catch- as they aren't as "athletic" and quick as yakkas, has surfaced many times over the years, whatever the reason,be it taste,smell.sight or agility I'm not sure, but I'd always choose(and recommend) one over a yakka! Years ago, Joe Ritchie,who was one of the pioneers of "vertical spinning for kingies"(jigging) caught a Marlin on a mado fishing solo in his new boat!

Hi Waz.

How do you know these stories about my dad Jay-Ah. Did you know him?

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8 hours ago, Matt Ritchie said:

Hi Waz.

How do you know these stories about my dad Jay-Ah. Did you know him?

Hi Matt yes I was a member of the A.F.A back in the days when Joe fished with Ron Lance. They used to catch so many fish- particularly Kingies- and I always listened to everything they said about fishing, especially jigging for Kings. 

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