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It’s all about the Bite

All anglers like fish that bite hard. You rarely forget a really crunching attack on your lure or bait and you’re always keen for more!

THERE are a lot of things in life that give you those knee trembling “zing” moments but there are few things fishos like better than a really smashing bite. I love getting those big bites when a fish slams a lure or bait with a savage and sudden impact. It’s a raw and brutal split second wakeup call that no angler gets sick of. You can cast for hours anticipating the bite, but a real belter of a hit will always rattle your cage. Like a lot of anglers reckon, “it’s all about the bite!” In my 50-odd years of fishing I’ve had some awesome bites, and they stick in your memory with big flashing lights. It’s kind of funny how seemingly inconsequential stuff like the bite of your first big bass gets plastered in the memory bank but you can’t remember the name of the kid you sat next to at school at the time that bite happened. If fishing is in your blood, events like this stay crystal clear while all the other peripheral stuff fades away. Lots of fishos have a “best bites” file in the hard drive of their brain. This stuff is obviously very important to us or we’d forget it! So which fish give the best bites?

Blue marlin have an awesome bite. After hours or even days of anticipation the water suddenly explodes in a big white hole with jaw dropping ferocity. It’s the type of bite you never get sick of and will invest a heap of time and money in chasing. The whole boat feels it. The day goes from often blind trolling on a big sea of blue to a moment of sudden impact that really gets the heart racing. The bite and explosive take off are wild and violent. It feels like the fish has attacked the lure, the boat and the anglers. Blacks and stripies are much more circumspect in their strikes most times in comparison to blues. Blues are pure savagery.

You get a better bite by using braided line, and with most fish, the bigger the mouth the better the bite. Bass, barra, mangrove jacks and Murray cod all  bite big. Fish that have a huge “suck” stop a lure dead. Slow winding a small baitcaster full of braid is the best way to get the real impact of a belter bite. When braid first came out, the old Spiderwire ad reckoned (in a long slow Louisiana drawl) “a bite on this stuff is like running over a brick with a lawn mower”. That was definitely true. Bites on braid are so much better than on mono. No stretch gives more feel.

Some species bite harder on certain lure types. A bass may gently suck in a soft plastic, but it will belt a spinnerbait with amazing ferocity, really smacking it hard most times. This is the reason I love catching bass on spinnerbaits; the bites are belters. Murray cod are similar, and for a fish with fairly average fighting qualities they more than compensate by having one of the most explosive bites of any native fish. It’s a real instant lure stopper. When the gob that can suck in a duck closes on your lure it’s a stonewall stop. If you’ve ever fished surface lures at night for cod in complete darkness you’ve probably got a few of those scary loud bites firmly put away in your memory bank.

Bites on surface lures are the best of all. Poppers, fizzers and stickbaits all get blasted by species as diverse as bream through to massive wahoo. The best popper crunchers I’ve caught are GTs. There’s something so savage about a rampaging trevally that it makes it a definite inclusion in the big bites hall of fame. I remember my best GT bite. I cast a stickbait over a shallow reef to a cruising trevally. When the lure hit the water a school of boofheaded monsters all turned jet black and raced for the lure. A monster fish climbed through the pack and I could actually hear the crunch of his jaws as he ate the lure in a massive angry explosion. That fish was 147cm long to the fork of the tail and is my biggest GT to date. I enjoyed the bite a lot more than the fight!

I’ve had a few hot sessions in the tropics on surface lures where we deliberately removed the hooks so we could concentrate on enjoying the bites. This really stirs fish up. On a recent trip to Melville Island we had Spanish mackerel rocketing above the horizon as they lined up our hookless lures. In Weipa we had trevally, tuna and queenies hit the boat in their pursuit of hookless poppers. If you really enjoy watching bites in a hot session, take the hooks off!

Barra feed by using a mouth that snaps open like an underwater cannon. The  “boof” sound of a feeding barra can be heard across a wide river, and the bites can be similarly explosive, probably the sharpest and most defined type of bite in fishing. Even when they miss the lure completely you still often feel the hit. Big barras really hit hard, particularly when you are fast trolling. They get a definite place in the big bite list.

Mangrove jacks similarly deserve a mention, and the snap of their toothy solid jaws and power make the hits one of the best in fishing, especially big jacks over 50cm long.
If you are ever lucky enough to get to jig for big dogtooth tuna on metals in deep water you’ll get to experience one of the most brutal bites in the ocean, followed by unstoppable vertical power dives. Years ago I caught a lot of big dogtooth up to 70 kilos in the Coral Sea and they definitely remain in my “big bites” list.

Big bites is a topic of much discussion for all keen anglers. The beauty of this is that we all have different opinions, but we never forget those line-stopping moments when the crunch comes suddenly and savagely. It’s all about the bite!

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