Abundant bait at last
  |  First Published: April 2007

I keep hearing that the drought is breaking so it might be good timing that my new boat is here. Problem is, it won’t be big enough to take two of every animal if we get four years rain in one month!

We did get rain in February and March and some very intense thunderstorms so maybe the prediction will be true.

To say the past few months have been a bit strange would be stating the obvious. We started off with some strong and consistent north-easterly winds in January and the inshore water was very cold over Summer. Also very unusual was the absence of bait out wide in January.

Maybe these two were linked but most gamefishers were scratching their heads wondering why the continental shelf wasn’t alive with schools of slimy mackerel. After they made a brief appearance in November the marlin season looked like being a corker but it was mid-February before any baitfish turned up but when they did it was in plague proportions and we saw an abundance of baitfish activity the likes of which I’ve never seen.

The shelf was alive with slimies but so were the inshore grounds. Jervis Bay and the Shoalhaven River were crawling with whitebait, pilchards and slimies to the point where anglers were netting their own bait from wharves at night. Who knows what we can expect next?

The abundance of bait hasn’t hurt the fishing. The river is fishing quite well at present for flathead and blackfish. There are also a few jewies being taken on baits and soft plastics.

All that whitebait has attracted the usual Autumn pelagics such as salmon and frigates on the high tide. Fish have been taken as far up as the Comerong Island punt on small lures during the high tide.

Some nice bream are about for those who know where and how to fish for them. Some good fish are being taken on bait but some of the best bream are falling for soft plastics fished around snags in the feeder creeks by more experienced anglers.


The inshore scene is also going very well. I saw a few recent catches of reds that had me champing at the bit and wishing my boat had arrived earlier.

Some of those catches included fish to 5kg taken on floaters down berley trails. The best fish I heard of was 7kg and some of the catches included up to half a dozen fish a session. That’s very good snapper fishing in anyone’s book.

I’ve got a few reef systems I want to explore with floaters and berley along with plastics and a few deeper areas we’re going to drift around with bottom baits. We just started to catch a few fish on those reefs before I sold the last boat but I wrote down all the GPS marks from the Navman before the boat was sold.

Jervis Bay will be worth a go with plastics for a reddie. We got some nice fish this time last year. Any of the well-known haunts are worth a go early in the morning or late in the day and if that coincides with a tide change, even better.

Most of the water we fish is between 8m and 15m deep and a lot of the fish are taken on the drop as the plastic sinks after the cast. We use lightweight Squidgy resin heads in 5g and 7g weights with Bass Assassin or Berkley Gulp tails. Chasing reds with plastics is some of my favourite fun at this time of year.


Another thing we’ll be doing is chasing some yellowfin out wide. From memory last Autumn wasn’t all that flash but last Spring made up for it. There were a few yellowfin about over Summer so hopefully they’ll be about in numbers for the next month or two.

A few fish were taken at The Banks when schools of sauries turned up but if you want yellowfin, head wider and troll lures. We had good success last season on lumo green Hollowpoint Tuna Terrors but I’ve got a few new JB Lures this year along with a couple of lumo green metal jet heads that have yellowfin and albacore written all over them.

I’m running these for yellowfin with a single Owner Jobu hook. Don’t even think about running two hooks on a shackle rig for yellowfin – they’ll often take the lure right down their throats and getting out that rear hook can be almost impossible at times.

Also worth a try are Halco Tremblers and Rapala XRaps. It pays to fish a couple of skirts and a couple of minnows if you can to cover a bit of depth while trolling. It’s not too late to expect a striped marlin, either, so it might pay to run something a little bigger like a JB Lures Pink Chook.

If you want some really good yellowfin fun, troll lures until you find a few fish, then pull up and get a pilchard cube trail going. If the fishing is anything like last Spring you’ll have a ball on light tackle with fish to 30kg. I lost count of how many days we had them at the back of the boat zapping around snaffling pilchard cubes and baits.

I’m going to throw a few pilchard flies at them this year with 6kg tippets over a Loomis 8/9 GLX rod or 10kg tippets over a GLX 12/13.

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