The gannet protocol

It’s that time of the year when fishos are fizzing at the gills at the sight of a workup on the ocean surface.

Birds in a frenzy in the sky, predator fish in a frenzy from the depths, and bait fish in a panic in the middle.

Who would want to be a bait fish? The proverbial meat in everyone’s sandwich. They must have been particularly bad in a previous life.

Work ups generally mean that fishos can crash the party, and also get an easy feed.  But there’s a few logical and common sense “rules” that ensure everyone gets a fair crack, safely and without crossed lines or crossed words.

Particularly if there’s more than one boat on the scene.

 Generally it’s considered a smart idea to circle around the work up if you’re trolling, rather than blaze a trail through the centre. This is less likely to spook the target fish below. It also means several boats can proceed around the edges of the work up, and generally keep clear of each other’s trolling lines.

It makes sense for all boats to circle in the same direction. I know this rarely happens, but when it does, everyone gets a fair lash at the party.

And here’s a secret… you don’t need much line out to get strikes. Close up in the prop wash is as good as it gets. And that makes it easier to keep your lines clear of other vessels.

Some fishos prefer to idle to the edge and cast lures into the boil up.  It’s a good idea to stay as clear as possible and perhaps try casting as well, if there’s already a crew working the fringes.

It’s worth keeping a long cast rig set up and ready for these occasions, rather than trying to hurriedly rig up a lure on the spot.

Gannets are always considered a very good sign. They’re amazing to watch, dive bombing from a great height and slicing their way through the bait schools. It’s a good idea, when you see gannets congregating, to stand off for a while and let the workup develop.  Avoid racing in while they settle into their work.

Don’t go blasting in at a thousand knots expecting to instantly land a monster.  Because the big predator fish, such as snapper, feed on the scraps and carnage left behind by the gannets.

Pieces of shredded pilchards, and even whole, stunned baitfish, sink below the workup and are picked off by the opportunist snapper. It can take a while for the workup to reach a frenzy, but that can be ruined by enthusiastic fishos gallivanting in with engines revving and rods thrashing.

Allow the work up to happen, the gannets to get ganneting, and the snapper to come a-running, before carefully approaching the edges with a lure or bait.


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