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Everything, including swordfish!
  |  First Published: December 2008



Few could argue that the pinnacle of game fishing for billfish in Australia is the broadbill swordfish. Many venture forth in the quest to capture one of these elusive beasts but few ever realise the dream, but recently the dream came true for Russell Emms, fishing wide off Stanwell Park.

The plan was an all-night session on the canyons berleying for sharks and cubing for tuna. The tuna were uncooperative but the makos were more than willing to do battle and two of 150kg to 200kg were tagged and one about 15kg was boated.

Live baits were set in the berley trail in case of a stray marlin and one frozen striped tuna was rigged on heavy wire only 5m behind the boat for another shark. At 2 am the balloon with the stripy bobbed a few times, then popped free as what was thought to be another shark headed into the depths.

The 24kg tackle was set at 8kg of drag. Russell is a big boy and gave what was thought to be another big mako some curry for two-and-a-half hours before the trace came up and the fish finally jumped – and the penny dropped.

Everything held together and the gaff went into a broadbill of 73kg.

All this took place in a 5.5m boat 60km offshore in the middle of the night.

Kev, Russell and Luke on the boat have been killing it for the past 12 months with heaps of yellowfin, marlin and sharks, and now a broadbill. There aren’t many boxes left to tick so a big tuna is now the target and, judging by their enthusiasm, it won’t be long before they cross it off the list.

If you put yourself in the right spot and do all the right things and put in the hard work, it is amazing just how much luck seems to come your way.

Back to the regular stuff, which has all been going off.

BAIT EVERYWHERE

Finally we have had currents like the good old days, bringing in bait by the tonne, every predator on the east coast and all the local fish are into the action, too.

You can’t put a lure in the water and travel more than a few metres offshore without scoring striped tuna. Most boats heading wide are pulling in the lures because there are just too many stripies and they would never get there.

When they get to the shelf it has been wall-to-wall albacore and small yellowfin with the odd fish up to 70kg. The big fish seem to be winning most battles, catching many anglers by surprise and either smashing them up or wearing through light leaders used for the small fin and albies.

Then there are the sharks, with the best season on big makos and blues for quite some time.

With all the small tuna about there have been some striped marlin hooked on the lures but with so many tuna, the marlin have taken a back seat – until next month when the blacks arrive.

There are have been albacore way less than 1km off Bass Point, along with small yellowfin and heaps of stripies.

The pelagics are everywhere, just look for the masses of birds packed over the brown, rolling masses of bait being balled up and smashed by tuna and salmon before a pod of dolphins, seals or a whale shows up and cleans up the lot.

It has just been a matter of flicking a lure into the boiling masses and taking potluck as to what grabs it.

The kingfish are active, too, and live yellowtail slowly trolled around the drop-offs at Bass Point and the islands seem to be doing the trick.

SEAL ALERT

A word of warning: stay clear of Gap island at Port Kembla. While it is a great spot to chase kings, a bunch of seals have set up a colony on the inside of the island and up to 30 seals are there so landing any kings you might hook is impossible because a seal grabs it every time.

You are lucky to get a red rock cod in the boat, let alone a nice kingfish before a seal snaffles it.

If you want something more sedate, put down a berley trail and chase the trevally and small snapper that seem to have been shocked into action by all the bait. They seem to be over most of the inshore reefs and a few striped tuna frames in the berley pot and fresh cubes of tuna fished down the trail and you can’t miss.

All the other fish have been stimulated with good flathead biting over all the recognised sand patches, mowies on the reef edges and gravel, along with pigfish, leatherjackets, samson fish and even a few trag.

The rocks have been firing with all the pelagics getting in close on the deep ledges and the bream and trevally picking up the scraps in the shallows.

Some solid kings have been about the deeper land-based spots taking live pike, yellowtail and, if you can get some, live squid.

Lures are producing plenty of salmon, bonito, tailor and a few striped tuna down Kiama way, with some lucky anglers having bait balls blow up right in front of them with tuna and salmon taking everything that is put in the water.

The beaches are firing, too, with salmon and tailor on just about all beaches tacking lures and pilchards. Whiting are on the increase, particularly down around the lake beaches of Port Kembla, Windang and Warilla. As always, beach worms are the top bait.

LAKE FLATTIES

If you really want flathead the lake is the place to be this month, with the flatties on the bite from the entrance to the backwaters. As the water heats up, so does the flathead fishing. Soft plastics, live poddy mullet and live prawns are the top baits.

On the subject of prawns, get down there during the dark because some good catches were made on the last dark and even if you miss out on a feed, you always get enough for live baits for flatties and bream – and prawning is just plain good fun.

Little prawns skipping along the surface during daylight hours generally have a short life expectancy, so get out the poppers and work them over the shallows at the entrance for whiting and the odd flathead.

If you want more and smaller whiting you could try the conventional squirt worms.

Minnamurra has plenty of flathead as well as whiting and some big mullet, if you use bread for berley and can keep the seagulls at bay.

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