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  Gone Fishing  Fish File

Tommy Ruff


Arripis georgianus

A Tommy Ruff was the first fish I ever caught, at the tender age of seven, on a temporary jetty that was being constructed for the installation of a huge flow pipe my father was building between the ocean and the West Lakes area. At the time, I thought they were called a "shitty" fish, because of the amount of bones they had, but I was still fascinated in catching and scrutinizing "a fish". Many years later, my attitude towards Tommies was to change, as I was introduced to eating "smoked" Tommies, a taste I will never forget, and now always look forward to. Thank God for Chinook and his Smoker !

These fish can be caught from most if not all jetties along the SA coast, and frequently accompany Squid and Garfish. For their size, they fight exceptionally well, they make good eating when smoked, and they can grow up to 41 cm. They are closely related to the Australian Salmon.

Tommies can be caught all year round. They tend to be larger during the winter months. but are more readily pursued during the summer. They are a schooling fish, and a catch of 50 or more is not uncommon, especially around the country jetties. On jetties, they appear usually around dusk, and they can also be caught on the turn of the tide, whether it be high or low.

Legal Minimum Length

Current Limit: No Restrictions  [Previous: No Restrictions]

Bag Limit

Current Bag Limit: 60 per person  [Previous: No Restrictions]
Current Boat Limit: 180 per boat  [Previous: No Restrictions]

Type of Tackle

Use line between 2 to 4kg.

A rod around 1.8m is ideal for both jetty, rock and boat fishing.

Hook Selection

Sizes No. 6 to No.10 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" nylon snelled hooks that come pre packed are ideal. These hooks have a barbed shanked, allowing for better bait holding, especially if using cockles as bait.

Baits Used

Gents, Seaweed Worms, Cockles, Pilchard Pieces, White Bait. They are not a very fussy eater, and I have always had success using gents.

Berley Mix

This is the same berley mix that is used when fishing for Garfish. Ideal for using this brew on a berley/pencil float rig.

  • Pellets
  • Bran or Pollard
  • White Bread, cut into small squares (no crust)
  • The secret ingredient - Curry Powder

Mix the above with water until the brew takes on a stiff consistency. Use just enough Curry Powder to give the brew a light yellow colour. You should mix a batch several hours prior to usage, to ensure that enough time is given for the pellets to absorb some moisture. Tommies can quite easily fill up on your berley, so the right consistency of berley mix is critical in ensuring that the mix does not disperse to quickly.

Rigs Used

Rig No. 1
The following diagram shows a float rig which can be used either off a jetty, or from an anchored boat. Its the same that's used for Garfish. The same rig minus the berley float is fine as well, with the occasional hand thrown berley. Using just a pencil float makes easier for casting, but without the luxury of a "regionalized" berley float. The preference is yours.

Read up on the Garfish Fish File for more information on this rig.

Rig No. 2
Rig 2 is perfect for fishing off jetties, and intended for use when the Tommies are feeding on the bottom. The purpose of the spring sinker is to hold a berley mix in place, and slowly disperse it within the vicinity of your hooks.

Use Dropper Loops (see Tackle Talk for reference) on your main line and attach the pre-made hooks to these loops. The number of hooks in this diagram is not excessive, as Tommies are prone to taking the bait well, and it's more than likely you could get double or triple headers.

Rig No. 3
This rig is the simplest of rigs, with the elements of winds and tides effectively suspending your hook in the water. Split shots are used dependant on the force of the tide to keep your bait down.

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