Encouraging signs emerge
  |  First Published: October 2012

The beginning of Spring quickly brought the shorts and T-shirts out of mothballs and suggested increased offshore pelagic activity might not be all that far away.

For the sharkies, there are still hordes of little whalers down between Bundagen and Tuckers Rock and the odd cobia as well. The snapper have been a helluva distraction, though, but they’re either small or bigger than 7kg with seemingly few in between.

The few boats that have stuck their heads out wide have mostly reported strengthening sou’-westers the farther out they went, which is typical for this time of year, but there are some encouraging signs all the same.

The water colour is a mix of good and horrible, depending on the day, with temperatures outside 70 fathoms varying from 18°-22°.

Last season started with a bang with a 200kg blue marlin tagged on the first morning as well as a couple of stripes, so you never know what’s going to rise to a lure spread if the water is suitable.

Jumbo slimy mackerel, some as big as your forearm, have moved inside the continental shelf in solid schools and you can’t help but think the striped marlin might be here soon.

Not every ‘bait’ school that marks on the sounder are slimies though. The dreaded leatherjackets have been out there in force, so if the bait jig comes back missing a few hooks or goes missing altogether, it might be wise to try elsewhere.

If nothing else, it’s good for the tackle trade!


Going by the longliners’ catches, yellowfin tuna remain pretty thick outside the 154°W line although the boats are ranging up and down the coast to find them.

For small boats, tuna have been marking on the sounder in more accessible water but, frustratingly have decided to hold below the thermocline.

Maybe they rise to the surface after dark, but the schools have been moving too fast to be a realistic cubing proposition.


Meanwhile, there’s still time to look at tackle maintenance. If you haven’t done so already, get your game reels in for a service because the start of the season is traditionally a busy time for reel repairers.

If you’re capable of doing it yourself, just make sure there are no parts left over at the end — turns out they’re all needed…

Strip the line and replace it with fresh and re-do the top shots if fishing that way. If you prefer to get the line wound on by the local tackle shop, keep in mind that they too are pretty busy at this time of year.

Alternatively, get the crew together, have a barbie, a few beers, spool up a reel or two each and it’s all done — for half a season, at least.

While the reels are off the rods, give the reel seats a scrub with an old toothbrush dipped in WD 40 or similar to remove any caked-on salt. Separate the butts from the tips if they’re two-piece rods and give the ferrules and threads a thin smear of Vaseline.

Stuck locking rings can usually be popped free with a strap wrench – never use multigrips!

Roller guides can benefit from a drop of oil (Tri-Flow, available from bike shops, is excellent), and a bit of vigorous rotating with a length of venetian blind cord will work it in well.

Any seized guides will need to be fully dismantled, cleaned, oiled and reassembled. A single frozen guide can irreparably damage line on a hot-running fish, so they all need to be working.

Crimps on leaders need to be checked for corrosion and replaced if going chalky. Wire on two-hook rigs under heat shrink hides a multitude of badness, so check and replace if necessary.

Tag poles also require a bit of TLC. A touch of Vaseline on the threads of two-piece poles and the detachable heads works wonders and means they can be dismantled and re-assembled with ease.

If they’ve seen a bit of use, gaff heads will need sharpening with a half bastard mill saw file. Cover their newly sharp points with garden hose or plastic tubing to keep them in razor-like condition.

The Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club’s 2012/13 season will be under way by the time you read this, so hopefully I’ll have a more fish-filled report for you next issue.

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