Things are hotting up despite the icy winter conditions blowing freezing cold winds off the mountains, with solid numbers of southern bluefin tuna moving up the coast.
Anglers fishing beyond the 1st drop around the various canyons and sea mounts are finding bluefin in good numbers from 40-80kg and the odd fish over 100kg.
The odd school of fish have even been seen inshore only 3km from land, which would be good to see considering the general run to find productive bluefin water is more like 50-70km!
If you find the fish be prepared for multiple strikes. Crews running seven lures have often found all rods loading up. Once a school is located they will hold under the boat if you have plenty of cubes ready to go. Heavy jigs worked to deep holding fish are also being productive for the fish that don’t want to rise to the surface.
Sub 10kg albacore are also about but they don’t seem to be schooling tight – just the odd fish randomly showing.
For the second year in a row the yellowfin tuna run has been virtually nonexistent with only a handful of fish being caught. The Batemans Bay Yellowfin Tournament saw 30 boats score a grand total of one yellowfin weighed. It’s hard to believe the turn around in bluefin numbers and the plummeting yellowfin numbers.
This season it seems the bluefin are less condensed and spread right along the coast where as last year 30 or 40 boats were virtually bumping into each other.
The cuttlefish spawn run is in its late stages and the snapper are on the prowl looking for an easy feed. Anglers casting baits off the rocks are finding a steady stream of fish to 3kg with the odd larger red to 7kg, particularly after a bit of a spike in the swell.
Ray Smith lost an epic battle with a big snapper recently that ate his soft plastic then proceeded to spool him around a point with Ray covering 40m on foot to try and keep up with the fish before the inevitable bust off occurred. He and Ben Roberts still managed four fish around 3kg for the session.
The next day Ray was back for more pain losing two more solid reds on plastics and landing a 4kg fish.
Ben also scored a big jewfish on a plastic off the beach that was estimated at 12kg. According to Ben it was a real line burner fighting extremely hard. Ben was fishing solo and the photograph was taken by an impressed Fisheries Officer who watched the capture unfold.
Etienne De Celis thought he’d hooked himself a trophy red when his rod loaded up and emptied line typical of a big snapper, but the fish turned out to be a thumping big blue groper, which he released. Over the years I’ve had countless groper to 10kg eat squid, octopus and cuttlefish baits meant for snapper, which shows these mostly rock dwelling fish definitely don’t mind prowling the gravel and sand patches away from their traditional haunts.
It has been many years since I’ve chased groper but I am feeling the need to tussle with a few big brutes this month. Groper fishing used to be about direct drive Alvey reels and heavy mono for me but I really want to give them a shot on my heavy braid kingfish popping gear. I reckon a big blue at close quarters on 80lb braid would be a pretty brutal affair.
There has been some good action on winter kingfish off Durras with schools of fish being found rounding up squid in quite shallow water. Kayak anglers and boaters chasing snapper on lures have reported getting busted up on good sized kingfish. However with the introduction of some heavier tackle has led to fish around the metre mark being subdued.
In the estuaries fishing is pretty slow, cold and shut down, but there is fish to be found. Mark Loader has been scoring some solid tailor around 3kg in Lake Conjola on soft plastics and small shallow divers from his kayak. The fish have been favouring the deeper channels where small baitfish have been schooling.
In the Clyde the tailor are much smaller but they’re the key to finding the odd jewfish lurking below them.
Farther upstream hoards of estuary perch can be found on the deep bends with some underwater tree structure. You will also encounter some big black bream over 40cm in the same areas but between schools of fish it will feel like a piscatorial desert.
If you happen to hook a bass or an estuary perch be sure to release it as it is currently a closed season for them to allow them to breed unhindered. The closed season on bass and estuary perch is from June 1 to August 31 for all NSW waters excluding stocked dams.Reads: 1377