Handlines, handreels and powered reels (also called rod-and-line fishing or deepwater line fishing) are used commercially in all jurisdictions to target finfish. Handlines are the simplest form of fishing; they consist of one or more baited hooks attached to a line, which is retrieved by hand. They may be used singly or several at a time. Handreels can be mounted on the side of a vessel or attached to a rod (rod and line). Rod and line is the predominant method used by recreational fishers in Australia. Reels are used to deploy and retrieve the line and are usually fitted with a drag system (a 'brake' system designed to create resistance in the reel as the fish takes out line). To reduce the time and effort involved in setting and hauling the line, electric or hydraulic motors are fitted to some larger reels (powered reels).
Pole and line (also called poling) consists of a fibreglass pole and short line with a barbless lure attached. This method of fishing typically targets pelagic species such as tuna. It is not commonly used any more in Australia. The fish are attracted to the boat by throwing bait into the water and by disturbing the surface of the water, mimicking the behaviour of baitfish. As fish are hooked on the lure, they are hauled over the fisher's shoulder onto the deck. Larger fish are taken using a double poling arrangement, operated by two fishers.
Pole and line
Squid jigging is carried out in south-eastern Australia to catch Gould's Squid and occasionally
Southern Calamari. Jigging is a night fishing method that exploits the squids' strong attraction to light. Powerful lights are positioned along the vessel to attract the squid. The squid congregate next to the vessel in the shadowed area and dart into the lit area to feed. A line with several barbless lures is used off an elliptical spool, which is either automatic or hand operated. The rotation of the spool as the line
is wound creates the jigging action. Squid caught on the lures are hauled over a roller, fall onto a wire mesh screen at the side of the vessel and slide onto the deck. Automatic machines continually wind up and down and need little attention. Modern squid jigging machines can be controlled by a computer located in the vessel's wheelhouse, which can vary the fishing speed and pattern between machines.
Squid jigging gear
Anchored longlines can be set vertically in the water column (droplines), horizontally along the seabed (bottom-set longline) or horizontally suspended off the seabed (trotline).
Droplines are used mainly on the continental slope off south-eastern Australia to target Blue-Eye Trevalla, Striped Trumpeter and Hapuku, although Gemfish, sharks and Pink Ling are also taken. Off southern Western Australia, droplines are used on the continental shelf to target Snapper and shark species. In the Northern Territory, tropical snappers and emperors are targeted by droplining in waters over 80 m deep.
Droplines consist of a mainline of rope, wire or nylon that is anchored vertically in the water with a weight on the bottom and floats attached at the surface. Short lengths of twine or nylon called snoods or traces have a clip attached to one end and a hook on the other. When being set for fishing, the desired number of prebaited snoods (usually between 10 and 100) is clipped at regular intervals along the lower section of mainline as it is fed out. Alternatively, the snoods may be permanently attached to the mainline and are baited and lined up in order along individual shooting rails while the vessel is heading for the fishing grounds. When the weight is dropped overboard, they are pulled off the rails in turn as the line is set.
Demersal longlines (also called bottom-set longlines) are used on the continental shelf and slope all around Australia to catch a variety of species, including Blacktip Shark, Gummy Shark, emperors
and Pink Ling. In Victoria, they are primarily used to target Snapper. This line differs from a dropline in that the mainline with the baited snoods attached is set along the seabed. One end of the haul-in line has a weight attached to anchor the end of the mainline, and the other has a dan buoy (a small buoy, with a flag, used to temporarily mark a position at sea) and float. The line is left to fish for up to six hours. Setting and hauling of longlines can be mechanised by hydraulic line setters and haulers, with snoods stored in magazines and a baiting machine that attaches bait to the hooks as the line feeds over the vessel's stern. Such auto-longlines are used in the Commonwealth Gillnet, Hook and Trap Sector to target deepwater finfish such as Blue-eye Trevalla and Pink Ling.
Demersal longline configuration
Trotlines are used to target Blue-eye Trevalla and Hapuku on or beyond the continental shelf off south-eastern Australia. The gear is designed to fish over rough substrates. The mainline is set horizontally, with small floats to suspend it off the seabed so that it does not snag. At set intervals along the mainline's length, weighted short droppers or trots are attached, each containing up
to 20 baited hooks. The droppers are set vertically in the water and act like a series of joined short droplines.
Drifting longlines (or pelagic longlines) are used off all states of Australia, but not the Northern Territory. Species taken include Yellowfin, Bigeye and Southern Bluefin Tuna; Striped Marlin; and Swordfish.
Drifting longlines have the mainline suspended horizontally in the water at a predetermined depth by buoy lines, with floats spaced regularly every 200–400 m along its length. Branch lines 25–50 m long are attached at regular intervals along the mainline. Each branch line has a baited hook and fishes at a different depth, depending on its position and the curve of the mainline between floats.
Drifting longline configuration
Drifting longlines are set while the vessel is moving ahead. The buoys and branch lines are attached as the mainline feeds out. The mainlines can range from 10 km to 100 km in length, and can carry from 200 to 2000 hooks. The mainline takes 2–6 hours to set, while hauling takes approximately 4–12 hours.
Trolling is used Australia-wide to target species such as Spanish Mackerel, Yellowtail Kingfish and several tuna species. Trolling is a simple method of fishing in which lines with baits or lures are dragged behind a vessel as it moves along at a speed of 2–10 knots. Most commercial operations use lines rigidly mounted to the stern of the vessel or off outriggers or booms, and troll 3–18 lines at once. A variety of lines, rig designs, and lures or baits are used for trolling. In New South Wales, leadlines (lines with lead weights attached every 30 cm) are used to troll deeply for Yellowtail Kingfish. Bowden cable (galvanised cable of 1–1.5 mm diameter) is used to troll for Spanish Mackerel in Queensland.
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