NOTES: Pic 2 only small but use to satisfactory size if possible
Two words sum up Autumn fishing on the South Coast – red hot!
Even if I were lucky enough to win the lottery, this part of the world would be on my April hit list no matter what.
The weather has been generally kind and over the past month the number of fishing opportunities, from the blue water to the bass water, has been amazing.
It’s fair to say that the offshore scene has dominated much of the attention. The annual run of small black marlin on The Banks and inside Jervis Bay definitely lived up to expectations.
As with all forms of fishing, you had to be on the pulse to get those multiple hook-up days on the ‘small’ blacks but even on the weekends when The Banks resembled a Woollies carpark, there were still fish to be had.
The water reached 25° at the peak of the bite and there were numerous mako sharks thrown into the mix to add even more excitement.
It’s difficult to convey the chaotic image of a 150kg-plus shark, after engulfing a live slimy mackerel meant for a beaky, leaping nearly as high as a power pole in the middle of all that boat traffic.
There were also two lunatics, one being yours truly, who fought, caught and released an estimated 150kg black from a 3m blow-up rubber boat for an upcoming episode of IFISH TV. It will make for some interesting viewing and it was pretty cool being at water level and looking the fish in the eye at the end of a 2 1/2-hour battle.
It’s also interesting to see the changes in finesse fishing for billfish. It really wasn’t that long ago that the majority of crews were using 200lb to 300lb leader as the norm. Crews are now regularly opting for 100lb fluorocarbon when targeting sub-200kg fish.
Inside JB we saw slimy mackerel and yellowtail stack up in an amazing way right into March and whilst The Tubes saw its fair share, there were quite a few blacks around 100kg hooked by anglers fishing for kings
. One particular hook-up by Henry ‘solo man’ Higgins off the back of the Middle Ground during a mid-week session was a standout. Fishing alone with 80lb leader, he disappeared to the north and the next thing the radio came alive with the call of a marlin.
The sight of a good black leaping with Point Perpendicular in the background is not something you see every day of the week.
Numerous crews were all hooting and when you throw into the mix three Australian warships steaming to sea, you have a day to remember. Just as H was about to set the tag at the boat the leader parted and the fish swam off to fight another day.
As testament to how diverse the fishery is, there were bream, snapper, salmon, kings and marlin all hooked on the same session within spitting distance of each other.
Speaking of kings, with the amount of bait present you could forgive the fish for feeling a tad full.
There were a few weeks of 20-fish sessions on kings ranging from 70cm to 90cm when they first showed in February. They should hold until after Easter, with live bait being the offering of choice, although plenty have been taken on plastics.
For my money a 9” clear Silstar Slapstik on a 1oz 8/0 TT head with 30lb braid and 40lb leader has stopped plenty of fish to 90cm and adds plenty of excitement to the mix.
The poor old Shoalhaven came to life in a big way at the end of Summer.
Vaughan Little also did his best Solo man impersonation with a thumping 47.5kg mulloway on 10lb braid with 16lb leader, an amazing effort at the best of times, let alone on his ‘Pat Malone’.
The river also had a great run of school fish from 6kg to 10kg, not surprising given the amount of bait around.
Big schools of salmon and tailor provided great sport around the mouth of the river.
The bass are still on the chew but we should expect a few to start to travel downstream on the back of the big fresh coming through.
April is a great time of year. It’s the crossover month, with cool nights and warm seas still full of pelagics and snapper under bait schools on calm and balmy days.
The South Coast is a great place to be at this time of year so have a sickie and go fishing!Reads: 1410