Anthony McEwen

I grew up in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. It’s smack bang in the middle of Australia’s east coast surrounded by fishing opportunities I couldn’t cover in two lifetimes. My grandfather took me fishing in Lake Macquarie when I was 4 years old. Apparently, I cried the whole time believing the boat would sink – so he tells me.

47 years have passed since that day. During that time, I fished all around Australia, in Asia, and Europe. I’ve spent my life chasing fish, and I’m far from done. I’m still blown away by how much I’ve yet to learn and discover.

Over the years, I’ve come to specialize in rock and surf fishing. The pure energy and the possibilities of the ocean rocks and surf have me completely addicted. As a professional writer, historian, and a fishing tragic, I’m lucky enough to be able to share my experiences with you.

I’m excited about this collaboration with Mike and UltimateFisher.com. We both feel an international perspective on gear and tactics provides US anglers with unique insights that can be applied to their local fishing endeavors

Our goal is to cut through all the commercial white noise out there on the fishing web. We want to provide you with practical fishing insights so you can catch more fish, and better fish, more often.

Anthony’s Fishing Favorites

I’ll chase anything that swims from whatever puddle I can find. But I do have favorites. All year round I’ll target big bream and blue groper from the rocks, using crabs and cunjevoi. Bream is a staple here in Australia, but I target the biggest of the species that are usually found in tough ocean rock locations.

I also target yellowtail kingfish and GTs from the rocks. Their immense power always blows my mind, and I’m sure I’ve dropped more than I’ve brought to the rocks. My preferred technique is casting stickbaits, metal slices, and poppers - the top water action is thrilling. If I’m feeling a little lazy, I’ll set live baits – big ones. I don’t think there’s anything more effective.

From the surf, I target bream, dart, whiting, and mulloway year-round. I’ll only ever use natural, and live baits – beach worms and pippies, with big live baits of various species for the mulloway.

Winter brings on the Australian salmon and tailor (blue fish in the US). I get these guys on metal slices and whole pilchards (sardines) on 3 or 4 ganged 4/0 hooks. They’re awesome sport fish, and prolific from the rocks and surf during the colder months.

One of my favorite things is to cast small metal slices at Australian salmon using 6-to-8-pound line. With 5 kilos (12lb) of Aussie salmon on the line, it’s a phenomenal fight. 

Anthony’s Favorite Gear

My favorite rod is a 12-foot composite medium action. It’s old, too heavy, the tip runner is held on by glue and electrical tape, and all the markings have worn off. I’ve no idea of its rating or brand. But I’ve caught more fish on this old faithful than all my other rods combined. I have tennis elbow and wrist damage from holding it for hours on end – but I love it.

I fish it with everything from my Daiwa BG 3000 and 5000, my old 7500 Slammer, and my 14000 Shimano Saragosa, which is my new love. Yes, I’ve demolished the principles of a balanced rig, but it all works beautifully for me.

I have a 6-foot ugly stick for the boat that gets an Okuma conventional reel strapped to it. I have two 7’ Daiwa flick sticks for light work that host a variety of cheap 2500 spin reels, and a Shimano Sienna FG 1000.

I’m terrible with my gear. I don’t deserve performance equipment – according to my wife. With my recent purchases, including the Gosa and a beautiful 11-foot Daiwa Seabass rod, I’ve made a promise to myself to look after them.

Go-To Setups

Simplicity is my MO. I’ll use only basic rigs. If I’m casting poppers, stick baits, or jerk baits, I’ll use braid with as light a leader as practical. I like the casting advantage of this combo.

With bream and groper from the rocks, I fish very heavy cover in the shallows - sinkers aren’t possible. I use mono for abrasion resistance with a 4/0 tied directly to the main line. Casting weight comes from the weight of the baits.

For live baits, I run lead (if and as required) directly to a 6/0 or bigger. If I want to float it, I’m more inclined to use balloons over bobbers.

In the surf, it’s mono exclusively, and usually the most basic of Carolina rigs. I connect gang hooks to the mainline via a snap swivel when I’m chasing tailor and Aussie Salmon. The Carolina rig, without bling and beads, is my standard whenever I’m using natural baits, wherever I fish.

If the surf is heavy, I’ll weight up a little and use a dropper rig. I’m also a fan of a dropper from the boat. It’s perfect on a drift. Dropper rigs are also a must when the current is heavy.

My favorite rig of all time is a 65g metal slice attached to a snap swivel at the end of a mono mainline – so easy, so old-school, and so very deadly on a host of bullet train pelagic species.

Anthony’s Perfect Day’s Fishing

It's the first light and I’m already on the ocean rocks. The wind’s blowing offshore, and there’s enough wave action to create some wash, but nothing heavy to sweep me off my precarious perch. 

The first job is to collect crabs and cunjevoi. The crabs are easy, but the tide’s up, so I’m risking life and limb to get the cunji. This bait is for later. It’s time to cast massive poppers and stick baits at yellowtail kingfish.

With any luck, I’ll hook into a kingy punching through 15kg or a GT of similar weight. These fish are for sport – insane sport. They’re released after a memorable battle.

Exhausted, but satisfied, I’ll switch over to the natural baits for a chance at catching breakfast. The targets are massive bream and blue groper. A good day will get me one groper and half a dozen huge bream. Then it’s straight back to camp to clean, fillet, and cook fish for everyone. From this point, it’s R n R and a little prep for an evening on the beach.

The Nissan will hit the sand at about 4 pm. The wind is still offshore and there’s good wave action and plenty of long, deep gutters. I’ll target whiting up until last light – they’re big ones. We call them elbow slappers. With enough fish to cover meals for a couple of days, I switch over to live baits and extra heavy gear in a hunt for mulloway that grow as big as me. Come what may – my perfect day.

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