The following report was compiled by Rodney Stokman in Anthony’s absence.
As you read this we should be experiencing cooler winter waters, especially inshore. We could see it stay reasonably warm out beyond the shelf like last year though. Inshore will cool down to 14-15ºC at the coldest but the offshore water may stay quite warm. Last year marlin were caught in June and a massive blue was weighed in at Bermi in August. Don't be surprised if we see this again this year.
The estuaries are fishing well and the Clyde has been keeping anglers more than happy. Joel Taylor cracked his PB mulloway weighing in at 25kg. Wade Eaton and Ray Smith have been terrorising the place as usual and have been having good catches of mulloway during the day on hard and soft bodied vibes, and at night on fresh squid.
Customers have been coming into the shop with good reports of bream and stories of plenty of 40cm and larger ones being caught. Coming into the colder months the bream will tend to be more lethargic and up the back reaches you can still get onto some black bream. Just go down on your leader and keep your presentation in front of them until you get a hit. Other than that you can always count on the flathead to play.
The beaches have been quiet on the salmon and tailor front with some odd catches here and there. Moruya Wall had a good run of decent size tailor when that cold water pushed through, but to make up for their absence there’s been an abundance of whiting. Old school dudes like Al Perry have been saying it’s the best whiting run they have seen in a while. My father and Al bagged out on whiting on their last visit to the beach and we could still see some catches through June. However, we expect that should ease and we should see salmon and tailor make more of an appearance. That means it’s time to put the worms down, get out the pilchards and whip a 30-60g metal through the surf on some lighter gear for some crash tackles.
Rock fishing is rocking. Snapper are still in close and will probably remain that way as the cuttlefish are making their way in, and snapper love cuttlefish. Squid and white plastics work well at this time of year.
Squid are on as I type. We have nearly sold out of plain white squid jigs. Pick up some squid jigs and get out for the afternoon and into sunset for some calamari for dinner. Who doesn’t love that?
Finally some decent kingfish have made an appearance but they’re still a bit hot and cold. Some of the boys fishing for snapper in close on light gear have been getting dusted in the shallows and landing a few in places like Durras. Moruya, which has had a good couple of years, has fired up a couple of times and Montague Island has had some even better days. Ulladulla has turned on a bit and Jervis Bay has seemed to be the most consistent. Still, they haven't really been that thick as of yet.
The stand-out species at the end of summer and throughout autumn was the mahi mahi (dolphinfish). The FADs up and down the coast held large numbers and plenty of fish mostly around 80-90cm. Lots of rats amongst them but also a few bulls as well.
Sad story though. The FAD has been removed. They seem to arrive too late and get pulled too early. Hands up who wants FADs all year round? Tuna are a fish too.
I think it is important to talk about FAD etiquette now that we can look back on how it all went down and how we should approach next year.
I admit, I have been guilty of rushing out to a FAD with only lures in tow. Two other boats arrived just before and were setting up for a session with livies. I thought I would do a couple of quick passes, try my luck and move on and let them set up camp. This didn't make the guys very happy and for good reason, but karma got me back. When I returned with livies. I picked up a quick two dollies before another boat came and did what I did earlier, and the fish shut down immediately.
The problem with motoring past with lures is that it can push the fish down if they are a bit shy. There are days they are on the bite big time, and at such times motoring by with lures out the back can produce fish, pass after pass. However, if the fish have been holding there for a few days or more and have been getting a lot of traffic they tend to get pushed down by the engines motoring by.
The lesson is, if you arrive at a FAD and people are quietly drifting by and catching fish with livies and you don’t have any livies or bait, go get some. The best approach is to find the direction of drift and park well away from the FAD and drift by it. Berley can be very helpful in raising fish and livies are always going to be your best option.
Other options include jigging, casting plastics or hard bodies. This can be a lot of fun on light gear. Just don't be the person dragging lures through half a dozen boats drifting quietly, because nobody will catch fish.
The other thing to remember is once you do a drift by the FAD and you are some distance away from it, don't be surprised if you hook up. When things are going smoothly, people are quiet and there’s berley in the water, the fish can be up and on the bite for some distance around the FAD. However, when you feel you have drifted out of the action just start your engine and motor quietly out and well around the FAD and start the drift again.
All in all, if you slow down, take your time and be quiet, everybody will catch fish instead of nobody.
Winter is here, heaters are on and ‘tuna’ is now becoming the word on anglers’ lips. Small schools of yellowfin tuna are getting around. They’re elusive little buggers though… good luck catching them! Some 8-10kg models have been busting up inshore bait schools, but they move fast and only have eyes for the bait they’re feeding on. To be in with a chance of catching them you have to match that hatch and get something in front of them. Otherwise your time would be better spent targeting snapper.
June is the time we start seeing some good yellowfin show up. One or two 50kg+ models were caught each week last year. That’s not a lot, but they are out there and you have to be also if you want to see one. Get out and enjoy the beautiful South Coast scenery, and if you hook up that’s even better.
As usual, deep diving lures and mixed skirts are the go. Favourites are Rapala X-Raps, Halcos and the new Live Targets. Put out a few skirt sizes and colours if you’re not sure what they are taking. I personally love a medium size pink one, and lumo is also a consistent colour.
Next month we will be talking bluefin! I’m looking forward to that. Until then, get out there and enjoy what’s on offer.
For more up-to-the-minute information on what’s biting where, drop into Compleat Angler Batemans Bay and have a chat to Anthony or one of the other friendly staff. They’re located at 65A Orient St, Batemans Bay (02 4472 2559).Reads: 780