It’s a little difficult to get my head around typing this month’s report as it is supposed to be about cold water and Winter fishing opportunities. But we are experiencing 24° water that has pushed right down to Green Cape – the warmest water we have seen all year.
Striped and blue marlin are dominating the offshore scene with scarcely any tuna to be seen yet.
Kingfish and big longtail tuna are prowling the rock ledges, anglers fishing with pilchards have been scoring small cobia off the breakwalls and the big snapper still seem to be out on the deeper reefs rather than inshore.
We are currently experiencing the best run of blue marlin in memory with boats scoring fish from 100kg to 300kg.
All of our recent efforts to find tuna have resulted in big marlin crashing our tuna spread, despite our only fairly small lures.
I introduced my-father-in-law Mark Loader and his friend Dave Wilson to game fishing recently. Tuna were our target but the marlin decided otherwise.
A cry of ‘what the hell is that!’ was uttered as we trolled over the First Drop. Over my shoulder I saw a marlin of 130kg had snaffled the starboard rigger lure and was right behind the boat, thrashing its head wildly and keeping pace with the boat, not even pulling a single click off the ratchet!
I slammed down the throttle to set the hook and the marlin woke up and 400m of 24kg left the reel like it was in free spool. By the time we cleared all the other lines and got Dave harnessed up for his first time on a game fish, the bottom of the spool was fast approaching.
Constant boat manoeuvres, six aerobatic, line-scorching runs and almost an hour later, we had the blue beside the boat but with the leader barely centimetres from hand, the double inexplicably jammed into the roller tip and snapped like a gun shot and the marlin slowly slinked away into the cobalt depths.
We witnessed seven other marlin hooked and the radio chatter revealed many more.
The following trip, in an effort to find the tuna we went canyon-hopping rather than fishing the shelf and ended up 50km east of land fishing beside a longliner and we still could only manage a failed marlin bite.
Fingers crossed the tuna will be in full swing this month.
Short-billed spearfish and the odd wahoo have also appeared in blue-water catches and mahi mahi are still quite prevalent with hordes of small fish at the FAD.
Inshore game fishing will still be worth a look this month, even though the water will have cooled down.
Huge schools of slimy mackerel have been massing against the rocks along with more big bonito than I have ever seen. Fish of 5kg to 6kg are common.
I had a recent sortie that yielded four bonito pushing 6kg with a further 10 similar fish released. Most fell to live slimies but a few were taken on lures.
Even spinning a 20g metal in search of a ‘bait’-sized bonito produced a 6kg barrel that took forever to land on light tackle.
A few legal kingfish also got in on the action and I reckon this month we will see some bigger kings appear.
Bream have been prolific around inner rocky points and beach corners with plenty of solid specimens over a kilo mark when the ocean is stirred up.
Ray Smith and I had a mind-blowing session on big bream, landing nine fish to 1.3kg and pulling the hooks on 10 others.
The pattern was simple: A 4kg striped tuna converted to strip baits with the flesh off the frame slowly introduced as berley into a wash-filled pocket of water behind a prominent point. We ran out of bait and berley with the fish still biting.
Expect the bream action to be equally good throughout the month.
It wasn’t just bream, either, with numerous salmon to 4.5kg also onto the tuna strips. Close to 10 pounds of salmon on bream gear in a tight washy gutter sure is fun!
Just to mix things up Smithy hooked a huge blue groper on tuna and for a while looked like he was actually going to win, until the fish hit the afterburners and took the line over a ledge.
Ray’s recent night snapper session off the rocks produced a few reds but also a bunch of solid black drummer and a lone zebra fish also took a liking to his occy legs, rounding out a nice mixed bag.
Big tailor have been common off the beaches and rocks with 4kg fish taking plastics meant for jewfish, metal lures and gang-hooked pilchards.
But the biggest tailor are generally caught at first light or after sunset, with fish to 6kg possible. Huge bonito strips fished on twin 8/0 hooks at night, intended for big jewfish, have produced many big tailor for us off the beaches.
If you really want to nail a big one, the night shift is when you’ll score best. You never know, you may even nail a 20kg jewfish in the process.
Dave Wilson sweats it out on 130kg of blue marlin that refused to come easy.Reads: 1300