There have been more encouraging reports leading up to the Summer season than I have heard in many years.
Game fishing will be in full swing, with marlin now overlapping the sensational run of tuna the coast has been experiencing since last Winter.
Leading up to this report there has been an influx of 6kg albacore spread from inside the continental shelf, along the coast and wide to the distant seamounts.
School yellowfin have been prevalent, as well as the odd big fish. Brett O’Connor on Opportunity scored a sensational 70.9kg ’fin on the troll on 24kg tackle and Nathan Forrest took a 29.5kg fish on 15kg.
Other reports of tuna topping 50kg have created some excitement and meant plenty of crews have been out over the drop fishing cube trails when conditions allow.
On a recent trip we witnessed masses of 10cm flying fish being harassed by striped tuna. Flying fish have been fairly scarce in recent years so hopefully their numbers get a boost because they are usually great drawcards for predators.
Mahi mahi will also appear this month and are most welcome on any offshore foray. Their eating qualities almost exceed their acrobatics on the end of your line.
The inshore masses of striped tuna seem to be holding, as Andrew Badullovich recently discovered while flicking a few plastics for snapper. Together with his mate Tony they had a ball on super-light bream gear in only 14m of water.
On gear like that each fish generally takes an honest 10 minutes to beat and if the hook-ups are thick you wind up feeling pretty sore because these fish are seriously hard fighters on the light stuff.
Bonito will increase and there should be some monsters among them; a few small schools of 5kg to 6kg fish stuck around all Winter.
I am expecting a big increase in kingfish encounters this season. Ray Smith has been seeing big schools of kings averaging 10kg to 15kg in at least six different locations whilst working for the National Diving Academy in Batemans Bay.
He has also been seeing good schools of snapper of 4kg to 7kg in 35m of water and one fish over 9kg that was frightfully ugly, akin to the Elephant Man.
Anthony from Compleat Angler reports a big increase in customers complaining of getting busted up by kingfish, so it seems the warmer water is finally sparking these kingfish into biting.
Off the rocks, things are starting to happen. I recently had a 12kg fish hit my soft plastic but it failed to find the hook. But it did take almost 2 hours of casting every lure I had to entice a bite.
The Clyde River is firing, particularly for jewfish, with fish over 1m long taking soft plastics by day and live baits by night.
Stuart Hindson of Aussie Fish Estuary Adventures has been putting clients onto some ripper jewfish recently with multiple metre-plus fish hitting the decks. Most of his clients have chosen to release their catch, which is impressive.
Big flathead and lots of them is the buzz at the moment and plastics bounced on the bottom is the best way to target them.
Tourist time is a bad time for the humble flathead because most anglers who rarely wet a line suddenly find themselves hooked up to 5kg or more of ‘croc’ and invariably keep the fish, rather than releasing it. Only later do they find out that they have killed a significant breeding female for the sake of a dry and boring feed of chewy fish.
Stick to the modest-sized fish for a feed and let the rest go.
Bream will be prolific this month and should be spread throughout the system. Lure fishing for bream is best when the tide is flowing and bait fishing comes into its own around the tide changes.
These days I can’t go past surface lures for bream as the visual appeal is worth 10 bream caught below. Estuary perch also get in on the surface act and really throw some water about on the strike.
It is also bass prime time in the fresh and if this season is anything like last year, expect to see plenty of fish over 50cm to test you.
If you are in the market for some really top-notch bass surface lures that are proving deadly on big wild bass, check out Scott Anderson’s Nutterjuck lures on www.nutterjucklures.com.
I will be putting some to good use this month, particularly when those screeching cicadas start to make their deafening racket.
I urge all fishers to make safety their utmost priority this Summer. Batemans Bay was witness to an inshore boating accident that claimed four lives on the October long weekend.
When heading offshore, keep those life jackets on, particularly if you are in a small vessel, and really make sure of the sea conditions and weather forecast before leaving. Log on with Marine Rescue, they are there to keep you safe.
If in doubt, don’t go out, or at least fish within the confines of the estuary – no fish is worth risking your life for.