I’m hoping the recent run of foul weather and flooding will clear up as quickly and as well as things did after ex-tropical cyclone Oswald stomped down the Coffs coast.
You’d rightly expect the near-shore water to be brown, disgusting and game fish-less for months to come, but you know what? The baby blacks came back – not in massive numbers, but the ocean cleared up remarkably fast and trolling about inshore was certainly worth the effort again.
It was a long way short of the cobalt water we had in December/January, though. It was more of a green/brown murk inside of 40 fathoms, but with such a huge biomass up and down the coast, all those black marlin have to be squeezed in somewhere and as long as there’s bait available, the target species will also be lurking.
And with the latest inundation and lashing from an east coast low, is there a possibility that the fish might just hang around a little longer?
Getting people interested in fishing, and game fishing in particular, is always a challenge.
There are magazines and books and plenty of solid information on the internet, including exciting YouTube footage to pique the curiosity, but there’s nothing like having a hands-on experience to really demonstrate what it’s all about.
Because catching active and sometimes quite sizeable game fish may need a number of crew, it can also be a real family activity. With shared costs, it isn’t as expensive as many people might perceive.
At present, it’s certainly adult male-dominated. Getting the wives and girlfriends of game fishers on board (though ideally not at the same time!), and the kids of course, should be the goal of all game fishing clubs because this is where the future of our sport lies.
The Solitary Islands Game Fishing Club decided to address this imbalance by holding an Introduction to Game Fishing Day, specifically for women and juniors. This was originally planned for the Sunday of the Australia Day long weekend but the weather was less than suitable for any outside activities, let alone fishing, so the day was postponed until mid-February.
Unfortunately, some of the farthest-flung participants couldn’t attend because school was already back but still, 25 juniors and eight females hit the water on eight boats donated by club members.
Strict adherence to game fishing rules wasn’t what this day was about – it was more about getting everyone involved out on the water and connecting them to fish wherever possible.
And if they needed a little help getting the rod out of the rod holder, so be it. The intricacies of the sport can be filled in later.
On my boat, we had nine-year-old Kaitlyn Lastavec and her dad Steve along for the ride. A pod of dolphins working the marina entrance was a good sign and the cause for many oohs and aahs, but as we got away from the coast the wind was certainly way more than the 10 knots the bureau had predicted.
There was a fair bit of brekkie going over the side on other boats but Kaitlyn took the rolling sea in her stride.
We were hoping for a bonito or a striped tuna or two, but in 40 fathoms the water blued up noticeably so the Christmas trees were swapped for a full set of small marlin lures.
Not long after, the shotgun rigger lure was knocked down and a short time later loaded up.
What happened next was a bit of a Chinese fire drill (although that’s the story for every hook-up on my boat!) and half an hour later Kaitlyn was proudly posing with her first marlin, a nice black of 20kg.
We kept working north with the sea and a small black came free-jumping right up the wake, almost into the transom. Barely a minute later, the shotty outfit started screaming again.
Being an old hand now, Kaitlyn had this fish knocked over in just 10 minutes, with it jumping on the leader when the tag went in and moments before the hook popped out.
This was certainly a fishy bit of water, as we also had another bite (same rod, same lure) and not far away, young Harry Crawley fishing aboard On Business tagged his first game fish, a yellowfin tuna.
After the fishing there was a barbecue back at the yacht club. A bunch of sponsors came on board, everybody got a medallion and a show bag full of interesting goodies, there were lucky draws of rods, reels, game fishing DVDs, books, and basically all participants went home with something to treasure.
The women, the kids and even the big kids running the boats had a great day and the camaraderie and enthusiasm that make being a member of a fishing club so fantastic were on show for all to see.
Many years ago, Shimano had a catchy slogan for their Junior Anglers Club program: “Video games and action figures just can’t compete with this.” I think they hit the nail right on the head there.
The Ladies and Juniors Day will be on again next year, so keep an eye on the club’s website: www.solitaryislandsgamefishingclub.com for details, as well as up-to-date Coffs coast fishing reports.Reads: 1337