Tailor are possibly the most sought-after fish in the southern half of Australia. They range from Fraser Island in Queensland, right around the bottom and up the west coast as far as Coral Bay.
Strangely though, they are not so common along the south coast and Tasmania.

These razor toothed predators are enthusiastic takers of both cast and trolled lures. They school up well, especially in small sizes, and enjoy a range of habitats. Small fish can often be found in estuaries during summer and along surf beaches as autumn approaches. Medium sized fish cruise the open beaches and really big specimens are usually found around inshore reefs, especially where there is a white water wash to provide shelter and food.

Fishing these inshore reefs from a dinghy can be an exciting experience, but great care needs to be taken as the best spots are often near where swells lift up. Generally, fishing these spots involves someone driving the boat in close to the reefs while the crew fires casts off towards the edge or into the white water. The motor is kept running so that the skipper can get out of there at the first sign of a big swell coming through. Without question, tailor almost always feed best at the change of light, either dawn or dusk. Metal lures such as Halco Twisties or Slices in sizes from 30g to 70g, are great for working from a beach, either at medium retrieve speed or flat out splashing across the top. Splashing these lures over shallow reefs works well too, but care needs to be taken not to let the lure sink too far and snag up.

Tailor are exciting fish to catch for their size and usually jump once or twice during the hard-pulling fight. They are most commonly caught in the 300-700g range, but can reach weights well over 10kg, especially at Kalbarri and Shark Bay in Western Australia. Occasional very big fish are taken at isolated spots along Western Australia’s south coast. Trolling for tailor is usually done in estuaries or the inshore shallows late afternoon, where Halco Laser Pro 120 lures in a pilchard pattern have established themselves as the lure of choice on medium sized fish. Small fish are happy to take a gold or chrome Twisty or Chrome Slice in the 20-30g range.

Tailor are regarded as a first class eating fish when fresh, but tend to go soft and uninteresting if frozen.

By Mike Roennfeldt