The Montague Island kingfish population has come out of hibernation and decided it’s time to play the game.
Over the past few weeks fish to 15kg have been caught but the majority are hovering around 4kg. It’s great to see good numbers of quality fish being caught, just in time for the holiday fishos to enjoy.
The kingies are quite widespread around the island with the northern end, Fowlhouse Reef and southern pinnacles all producing at times.
Most anglers are targeting the kings with jigs, with the new knife jigs working well. Size of the jig will depend on how hard the current is running and what depth you’re fishing but jigs from 100g to 200g should be ideal.
As we head further into January, you will find that live bait will work better with yellowtail and slimy mackerel the preferred baits. You should be able to get bait from the reef out the front of main beach, the rocks below the golf course or Kianga Reef.
The kings at Montague can become fickle with the increased boat traffic so take the time and get some live bait. It’s very frustrating if you’re out there with only jigs and the kings won’t look at them, and everyone around you is catching fish on bait. Trust me, I’ve done it and the frustration can be unbearable.
Out wider, the water will be around 21° and that means striped marlin. This season should be better than the last with striped tuna schools prolific right along the South Coast. With quite a few longliners taking the buy-out of their licences, there won’t be as many hooks in the water, either. This should mean a better marlin season and let’s hope anglers targeting these fine sport fish get their just rewards.
Don’t expect just striped marlin, blacks to 150kg should be around and, depending on the water temperature on the 1000-fathom line, a big blue is also possible. Every January a big blue is hooked and now that we know they exist in these deeper southern waters in bigger numbers than once thought, more anglers and experienced boat crews are targeting them with the right tackle.
Smaller yellowfin tuna to 30kg and a few albacore averaging 8kg have been patrolling the shelf line with anglers trolling skirted lures and bibbed minnows getting them. These school-size fish will be around for most of January, it’s just a matter of locating feeding fish and concentrating your efforts around them.
Even though lighter tackle up to 15kg is sufficient for this size of fish, I would still be using 24kg because you never know when jumbo tuna comes along.
The inshore reefs will continue to fish well with snapper, morwong, smaller kingfish and flathead available. Reefs like Fullers, Brou and the gravel patch off Dalmeny should all produce.
Use fresh bait where possible and that shouldn’t be too hard because the striped tuna schools have been thick in close so troll a couple of small Christmas tree lures to give you all the fresh bait you need.
The local estuaries have all been fishing well, depending on what species you’re after. Wagonga Inlet and Tuross Lake have been firing of late with the Tuross flathead population the best I have seen for years. Fish to 90cm have been caught regularly with most flatties averaging 40-45cm.
All methods are working with smaller soft plastics, live poddy mullet and strips of striped tuna producing results. The fish are widespread but the bigger models are coming from the shallower sections of the river and main basin.
Whiting are around in big numbers with anglers using yabbies and squirt worms getting the best results. Again, the shallower sections are where to fish.
While guiding at Tuross over the past few weeks we have managed some nice mulloway up to 8.5kg, great fun on medium braid and soft plastics. Our fish have come along mid-morning on overcast days so the theory of super-early mornings and late nights has been blown out of the water.
I believe that when this system closes, which it did a few weeks back, the jewies can feed at any time with tides not being a factor. This also happened last season so maybe it’s a trend and something to keep an eye on.
Wagonga Inlet has also had its fair share of mulloway action. I wrote last month that it’s the best I have seen and this month was no different. We managed three good fish with a few others lost and local guru Billy has caught a dozen over the same period.
Live tailor, mullet and yellowtail are the best baits with fresh squid a close second. Bigger soft plastics have also worked but not as well as the bait.
The whiting action is in full swing now with anglers using worms and nippers getting quality bags. If fishing the run-out tide, work the eastern side of the main highway bridge and go across the road for the run-in tide.
Very light leaders can be the difference between getting a few fish or a quality bag. It’s even more important now with the increased fishing pressure and boat traffic that January brings. Expect a few bream and flathead also if fishing the main channel below the road bridge.
The beaches have been a little patchy; some days are good and others very quiet. Anglers who are doing well have been using fresh bait like live beach worms and pipis. You can get bait like this from most local beaches. You need to put in a little work but the results make it worthwhile.
Bream, yellow-eye mullet and whiting are making up most anglers’ bags. The salmon action has been quiet but this is to be expected with the warmer water. There have been sporadic catches of these fish but no quantity to them.
Expect a few more tailor this month with mulloway also a real chance on those moonlit nights. Beaches like Handkerchief, 1080, Tilba and Narooma Main are all worth a look.
The rock fishing for bread-and-butter species like luderick and drummer has slowed with the warmer water. Drummer are almost non-existent, with plenty of effort also needed for a feed of blackfish fillets. Dalmeny and the lower section of the golf course rocks have produced a few fish with berley an absolute must for more consistent results.
If you’re targeting the pelagics you should have a smile from ear to ear. Kingfish, striped tuna and frigates have been caught from the golfie front ledge as well as High Rock at Mystery Bay. Throwing chrome lures has produced the best results.Reads: 3223