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Best chance of the year
  |  First Published: April 2012



It’s all happening around here with hot bites from almost every species imaginable. Marlin, kingfish, jewfish, snapper, salmon, bonito and bream are all there for the taking so pick your target and you have your best chance of the year to score big.

Inshore, the schools of slimy mackerel are as thick as they get and most fish are pushing a kilo – big live baits indeed.

If you can dodge the sharks you might find a big black marlin or a double-figure kingfish. Finally we seem to be getting a few good-sized kings back in our waters after a very long hiatus.

The slimy schools have also been carved up by a few small pods of supercharged longtail tuna late in the afternoons – hopefully a good sign of more to follow.

You really need to be Johnny-on-the-spot to score a longtail; they simply scream past each point on their southbound migration.

Oddly, they don’t often turn back to feed on schools of bait so if you miss a pod you basically have to wait for the next school, which could be an hour, a day, week or even a month away.

Around the continental shelf the baitfish have been much smaller but the marlin haven’t had a problem with that because the numbers are so vast that the schools are almost joined into one huge bait mass.

Live slimies and striped tuna are getting plenty of marlin action but lures have been performing pretty ordinarily. Anthony from TopCat Charters has been seeing numerous big marlin in a docile mood on the surface that are refusing everything but a well-presented live bait.

The fish are most likely so full that they haven’t had to work too hard for a feed.

Mahi mahi have finally made a bit of a showing, with any patch of weed or wood holding a few modest-sized specimens. Again, not all the fish sighted are being hooked up.

We should also see a spike in yellowfin tuna numbers from now on, with any sized fish a strong possibility. I reckon we’re still a month away from the best cubing time but plenty of fish will still be captured on the troll.

Love them or loathe them, there have been some big schools of seriously obese salmon off the rocks and beaches, with fish pushing 4kg relatively common.

They are pinching jewfish baits off the beaches, live baits and lures from the rocks and even 200mm stickbaits and mega-poppers have not been safe from the sambos.

Frigate mackerel have been chasing tiny garfish right into the surf on a number of beaches recently, providing thrills for anglers lucky enough to have small 20g lures to switch to.

Beaches around Durras and Pedro Point have been hosting big schools of frigates so if you plan to do a spot of beach fishing you won’t find a better fresh bream bait than a freshly caught frigate.

We have been putting the frigate fillets to use after dark in some nice-looking gutters in the hope of a jewfish. So far big salmon and tailor to 3.5kg have been the only takers but I reckon this will be the month that the big jewfish start prowling the surf.

CLYDE JEWIES

There are some big jewfish to be found in the Clyde River, with Mick Edwards’ recent 23kg beast a standout capture. Mick was using fresh squid at 3am and it took him 45 minutes to subdue the whopper.

Flathead continue in size and numbers so if you strike out on the jewfish the flatties should fill the gap.

Wade Eaton had a cracker session on flathead with more fish than he could count. But the best story to come out of the session was when a fish topping 1m long ate an already hooked 50cm flattie. The fight took a strange turn and the weight on the end of the line significantly increased.

At times the big girl sat on the bottom refusing to budge, convincing Wade that it was a stingray. He finally got it boatside but couldn’t fit it in the net so he released it in the water.

Give this net-free system another five years and the mind boggles at how good the jewfish and flathead will be.

Snapper numbers inshore will steadily build this month as the fish begin to fatten up for the coming Winter. Already a few fish are being captured in the shallower bays and off prominent points.

The best snapper fishing is probably still a good month away but it is definitely worth chasing them now.

BRAGGING BASS

Depending on how much rain we get in the mountains, we could get a last real shot at a bass before Winter sets in. The water levels are pretty high and rapids really quick so too much more rain would be the death knell.

On a recent visit to the fresh the girls kicked the boys’ butts, with my wife Carol scoring her first bass, of 39.5cm, then backed it up with a second.

Not to be outdone, her mum, Maddy Loader, nailed a monster 47cm fish that pipped husband Mark’s PB by 1cm to hold the family record and add another notch to her bragging rights of biggest flathead, bream and now bass.

And doesn’t she let Mark know about it!

Carol Dawson with her first bass, almost bumping 40cm. The fish towed the canoe and required a little paddle assistance to keep it out of the sticks.

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