Swallow Tail Dart are commonly found along the majority of Queensland beaches and are often targeted by beach fishermen for their excellent eating quality and savage, agile fighting strength. Dart can grow up to 3kg but are often caught around the 1kg and are often found in large schools along beaches, rocky outcrops, close inshore reefs, near bait schools and any coastal area that has breaking waves or turbulent water. Dart will feed on a variety of small bait fish and shell fish and will readily take small lures and soft plastics when presented into the strike zone. Along beaches dart will congregate in the deeper gutters and around large bomies along the headlands or reefs, searching for food under the white water just behind the impact zone of the waves, feeding on small crustaceans and baitfish that at are uncovered.
When targeting dart with bait the best thing you can do is keep your hooks relatively small. Dart only have small mouths and will just pick your bait clean if your hook is too large. Hook sizes 8 to 2 in the mustard long shank blood worm are ideal for dart, they have a small gap between the shank and the bard making them easier for the dart to swallow and the long shank allows you to remove the hook with ease. The weight on the rig will vary depending on the conditions, try to use as little weight as possible to suite the conditions this will allow the bait to wash around in the swell giving the bait a bit more of a natural look. Line weight can depend on the weight on your casting around 12lb is usually a good starting point and using heavier line doesn’t hurt because you never know what you could hook. The bait can vary a little between locations but there are few go to baits that will work in most situations. Pipis and sand worms are two bait that will work in any situation for dart however some days pilchards, flesh baits and squid will produce the bigger dart so don’t be afraid to try a variety of baits.
Lure fishing for dart can be a rewarding challenge especially when targeting dart on light gear and surface lures. Small metal slugs ranging from 5 to 20g are excellent for dart, the River 2 Sea; sea rocks, Troll craft sprats and Samiki bait fish are a few great slugs that fit the profile of the small bait fish that dart feed on and are heavy enough to get a nice long cast keeping you further away from the braking waves. Dart will often strike the slug as its sinking or during a pause and place a couple of pauses in between a few fast rips is usually a sure strike technique. Soft plastic fishing for dart can require a bit more finesse than metal slugs, once again smaller plastics are ideal because they fit the bait profile and light weights are good because they allow the plastic move with the swell giving them are realistic injured bait fish appearance but using light weights makes casting a lot more difficult so only use soft plastics when it’s safe to do so. Berkley gulp 2” minnows, 2” sandworm, Atomics prongs and Squidgy wrigglers and flick baits in a natural colour are a few ideal plastics that work on dart especially when rigged on a light jig head. Dart will readily take small surface lures and will aggressively attack the surface lure all the way back to the boat or shore when retrieved with a fast stop start technique. Surface lures work well when cast just behind the breaking waves were the water is clear enough to allow the dart to see the lure making it difficult to chase them on land so having a boat or kayak will make this easier.
When chasing dart on a clear day they can often be sighted on the face of the wave before it beaks so having a good set of polarised sunglasses will help you see were the fish are hanging around giving you a better chance to find that good gutter so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and the lookout for that next big fish.
Talking Tackle: River 2 Sea: Sea rocks
Today we look at one of the best quality metal slugs on the market the River 2 Sea: Sea Rocks these slugs come in a range of fantastic natural looking colours and the attention to detail on the slug is second to none. They are made in a range of sizes range from 5g up to 90g and can be vertically jigged in deep water for species such as Amber jack, kingfish and pearl perch or spun at varying speeds for mackerel, tuna, trevally, dart and tailor. The Sea Rock range is one of the few metal slugs on the market that can be used straight out of the box without needing treble upgrades, even with the smaller 5g slug. The River 2 Sea range of sea rocks are must have for any angler that heads up the beach to chase tailor and dart or go’s offshore to target tuna, mackerel or amberjack and once you use these slugs the results will speak for themselves.
The River 2 Sea: Sea Rocks are an excellent slug for Tuna, trevally and dart.