All things said and done, the Winter fishing was pretty good in this part of the world, but it’s at this time of the year that the water temps start to rise, kick-starting the Spring season.
Winter was a pretty mild affair, with the odd day in shorts and T-shirts with a big flood in between, but the all-day chill will now start to subside and give way to some warm sunshine – a good wake-up call for a changing of the guard and a new season.
The 2013 diary notes say that overall Jervis Bay fished pretty well for the past few months, with some monster reds and the bottom-bashers bagging out on flatties in the middle of Winter.
The drummer action in the washes has been on fire over the past month, with some good pigs under the cliffs on peeled prawns tossed into the washes from boats.
If you’re not drifting then anchor up on the sand with the right tide and run a few floaters back down the berley trail towards where the sand meets the reef for a feed of reds, and the odd gummy shark.
If you’re not stuck in the past and see the value of releasing the big South Coast snapper, then the use of a release weight is essential.
Now compulsory for all demersal species in Western Australia, the release weight allows you to release the fish back to deep water to negate the effects of barotrauma. Check out this link on the web for more info: www.recfishwest.org.au/publications/release-weight.html.
For anglers who prefer to throw lures, the reds, bream, salmon and a host of other species have been present in the washes in good numbers after a bout of bad weather and big swell.
One thing’s for sure, salmon of 1kg-5kg are year-round options on Target and Steamers beaches and put a good bend in a rod when everything else has stopped.
For the fly fishos these salmon present fantastic sight-casting opportunities in shallow water and put a great bend in a 6wt rod.
In September we start to see the odd patch of striped tuna to 8kg in the Bay so it pays to have a fly rod or light spin outfit with a really small metal or plastic flickbait at the ready. The smaller the lure, the better, because stripies feed on small baitfish.
Also try trolling small Rapala XR-8s in silver blue.
For a feed it’s hard to go past flattie tails and calamari. The squid fishing has been tough by JB standards since the floods but the water clarity should have improved by now. Jigs in orange, pink and green are the go.
This month the bass and estuary perch season starts and I am champing at the bit for a trip down the Shoalhaven on a kayak.
Darryl Head, kayak guide with Bay and Basin Sportfishing, knows the river and Tallowa Dam like the back of his hand and will put you in the zone for a memorable session on hard-fighting bass in some stunning South Coast wilderness country.
The big flood in July would have seen some big fish go over the wall so I’m also hoping the Tallowa Dam fish lift is working. The $9m lift constructed in 2010 will help the bass fishing go from strength to strength under the present conditions, which are favourable for recruitment.
Having said that, this Winter we saw some absolute horses caught and released as by-catch by those targeting bream.
Good early Spring rain will spur the fish to migrate back up into the fresh and before you know it, the surface lure fishing season will be upon us.
Also keep in mind that this month we start to see some of the bigger ‘crocodile’-sized flathead stir as the water warms towards the end of the month. Remember that these are large breeding females so do the right thing and put them back if you can.
Overall, St Georges Basin has fished pretty well either side of the full moon with some good pan-sized reds, bream and monster tailor on the go.
Early Spring has the potential to change the scenery with a shift back to an edge bite, as opposed to the monotony of blading in the deep. Stay tuned for more on that one.
Out wide has produced patches of brilliance in between westerlies and big swells. Some good water in late July and early August produced plenty of striped tuna and albacore, with patches of amazing southern bluefin action between Batemans Bay and Sydney for those that put in the effort.
Heading out to the Flemish Cap and putting 40 miles between yourself and the shore is not for the faint-hearted and crews should be well prepared by having fuel calculations down pat. No excuses.
All crew on board should have the basic understanding of lifejacket, flare and VHF radio use and what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. I recommend crews carry at least two parachute rocket flares because they have up to 27 nautical miles of visibility from a ship, as opposed to 5NM from a hand-held flare.
Check your weather and be safe.