The success story this month is big black jew. As I mentioned in April they were starting early and they have only grown in numbers since then.
They are everywhere from the bottom end of Keppel Bay all the way up through army country, out to Perforated and several of the deeper local estuaries. It seems that anywhere there is a deep hole or any sort of pinnacle structure has jewies in quantity. We usually get them in sizable schools that wander about the jew holes and pinnacle lumps schooling up around 3-4 days either side of the full or new moons.
This year they have turned up in force even hitting spots that were only rumoured as old jew spots many years ago, like Findlays and Bangalee. Captures have mainly been fish in the 13-25kg classes with the fish in each school approximately the same size, give or take a couple of kilos.
The normal rig is the standard snapper rig or paternoster with either two or three droppers coming off the main line, about 300mm, and spaced a few hundred millimetres apart. Use a standard lead down to the hook rig as it will snag less often in the rubble country. Baits can range quite a bit but squid and pilchards are the popular choice. Over the years we have found that whatever small fish schools that are in the area during the day make great baits that night. If doggies, bonito or ribbonfish are in the area then slabbed fillets will nearly always be the top bait.
Many of the guys who rang me or sent me pictures stopped fishing for jew after they had a feed, which is great news. When the big fish finally come to the boat they are just about trashed and the chances of a quick release with them surviving is near zero. They put their whole hearted effort into a great fight almost to the death. Black jew will make two very strong runs and keep pulling until they float on their side up against the side of the boat.
The jew that you are going to return to the water really need to be swum beside the boat until they get their strength back before letting them go. Lots of times after a huge jew session in following days we find the odd big fella washed up on the beach with no apparent injury. It turns out that in trying to do the right thing by releasing any fish taken after the esky is loaded has actually led to the death of these fine fish. If you enjoy the thrill of the fight then take the time to swim the fish before letting it go and this will help ensure that there are more jew around for the next seasons.
Both of the local salmon have been improving lately with captures of each growing weekly. The Fitzroy is the local home to the majority of king salmon covering a huge area where they feed along the abundant mud banks smashing prawns and small crabs. They will move with the creeping tide as it floods over the banks and they can be spotted easily with their dorsal fin or tail coming out of the water. At times they will even launch themselves onto the mud bank half out of the water to nail a feed as it tries to get away.
The other type of spot to look for them is around any of the submerged rock bars and the lee side of any of the old boat hulls resting in the shallows where they can use the eddie as an ambush point. Prawns, little poddy mullet and small herring are probably the best live baits, while lures are only a real option when livies are scarce. Coorooman Creek, Pumpkin Creek, Waterpark Creek and Port Clinton are other locations that hold salmon and are always worth a shot.
Blue salmon have been steadily increasing in local catches this month as they have stayed mostly in the estuaries after the abundant prawns instead of the normal up the beach runs. Port Alma, Connors Creek and the Fitzroy delta area are going well and the creek junctions or sand banks seem to be the best option. The mouth of Coorooman Creek, Ross Creek, Deep Creek or any of the estuaries where you find small whiting there is going to be blue salmon around the place.
A few of the old timers head up to Corio to get whiting as bait for the blue salmon. They reckon that if you haven’t got live prawns or yabbies then whiting fillets are the next best. Before whiting had a size and bag limit they would net them very small and use them live.
The yabby beds in any of the local creeks is always a chance in the cooler months. If you get there at low tide, pump some yabbies and put them on an unweighted 2/0 through the first join in the tail flick into the leading edge of the tide and wait. Not only are salmon a show but flathead, bream and big whiting can be a bonus.
Moving into winter the schools of blues make runs up the beaches hitting whiting in the surf gutters. When this is happening we grab the surf rods and the tailor gear including a few pilchards and fish for them as if they were tailor. The incoming tide from low is the go and as the water boils along the edge of the deeper gutters just toss out a lightly weighted pilly and let the water push it into the zone. Catches of three or four blue salmon up to 70cm long are common. The starting point on Farnborough beach is Barwells Creek mouth on the in or out any time the tides are big enough to have pushed over the sandbank on the high.
Grunter are around at present although not in the quantity expected. The Fitzroy River is a good spot as a rule and judging by the old fellows in their tinnies congregating at several of the known spots, they must be coming on the chew.
Pirates Point right down past Nerimbera is grunter city particularly where the bottom is undulating like big rolling sand dunes. The grunter hang in the bottom of the holes under the main current flow and pick off the baits that are washed in by the current.
Port Alma and Connors Creek are another special for good estuary grunter. Prawns and herring are the better baits and flesh strips make a great back up. Coorooman Creek and Waterpark Creek both have grunter and like the river they hang in holes and cockle beds where they can get out of the stronger run.
The go is to drift over the spots you find on your sounder until you locate where the fish are and then anchor up so you can cast upstream and let your baits come down with the current and drop into the holes.
Bream, barra, flathead, queenfish, steelbacks, whiting and dart have all been reported this month in the creeks. Offshore looks to be very good as well with the red fishes, trout, sweetlip and the mackerels all in attendance. It is time to reap the fruits of the floodwaters added food supply that has made this a very fine fishing year so far.Reads: 1622