Cunjevio is regarded by some anglers as one of the best rock fishing baits, especially for Drummer or ‘pig’. As someone who regularly fishes for Drummer I have been trying to find out how to access, identify and use cunjevio as bait.
What is Cunjevio
I used to think cunjevio was cuttlefish – don’t know why – until I tried to find out. Cunjevio is also known as cunje and sea squirt. It is a marine animal that grows, or rather attaches itself, on rocks below the high tide zone. It is tube shaped and often covered with green weed. When stood upon it will squirt water and hence sometimes called sea quirt.
Cunje is generally found on rocks in groupings and can be collected at low tide. Many anglers are not aware of cunje and usually walk past them.
It can also be sometimes collected close to rocks or headlands after severe weather when it has been dislodged from the rocks and washes up on nearby beaches.
As with any rock fishing activity including collection of bait, safety is paramount. Rock platforms are dangerous areas so exercise caution and safety.
Using Cunje for bait
Cunje is considered one of the best natural rock fishing baits. Slice opened, cunje reveals reddish meat. This red meat is loved by most fish including Drummer. Cut a piece of it off and push it through the hook a couple of times. Kelpfish loves it as well so be prepared to catch a ton of those nuisance fish.
The unused parts of Cunjevoi make excellent berley. Its scent attracts other fish such as Bream, Trevally, Morwong and Snapper closer to general fishing area.
Practise conservation – Bag Limits and Intertidal Protected Areas
In NSW, there is a bag limit of 20. Please don’t take more that the bag limit and don’t harvest only one section. Harvest from different spots so that a whole section or area is not destroyed.
There are also intertidal protected areas (IPAs) where Cunje (and other bait ) cannot be collected from. Check these beforehand. Go to the NSW DPI site at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/content/fisheries/info/closures/ipa
The next time you are on the rocks keep an eye out for cunje. Depending on your location, give cunje a go as bait and hang on.
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