It’s been a cracking few weeks of weather offshore. Flat calm seas have made the 30-mile trip to the shelf more comfortable for the smaller boats looking for tuna. Those anglers that have made the effort to get out there have been rewarded in spades with good showings of both yellowfin and bluefin tuna. The fish have been wide, especially the bluefin, but that is to be expected early in the season.
I know of a few local boats that have taken advantage of the conditions and have headed 60 miles offshore, which certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. Travelling these distances isn’t for everyone, but if you have the right crew and more importantly the right boat you will get some quality results on big bluefin. Fish to 60kg have been captured but there have been a few bigger barrels lost which is unfortunate, especially when they’re over the 100kg mark, but that's fishing.
The blueys have responded well to both skirted pushers and bibbed minnows, with blue/green patterns working a treat. I'd expect over coming weeks that cubing and berleying will work even better once the fish are located. It's a great method to troll, find the fish then revert to the cube/berley method. You quite often get the fish to hang around the boat for hours at a time though you do need an organised crew to have the cubes and so forth ready to hold them there. If you manage to hold them, you can almost throw anything at them and they will eat it. It's adrenalin packed action that will stay etched in your memory for a lot of years.
Those targeting yellowfin have had better results closer in trolling smaller pushers, zig-zagging the shelf line. The ‘fin have varied in size from 5kg jellybeans to 60kg models so be prepared for any size. Personally l wouldn't be running any tackle under 15kg as you never know when a jumbo will turn up. Sure, the smaller fish would be better fun on the silly string but do that at your own peril! Murphy’s law always seems to turn up at the worst possible moment.
Closer to shore the snapper are in full swing with the cuttlefish run, with reds to 3kg the norm. The close in reefs like White Cliffs and Long Reef have fished well and will continue to do so over the remainder of Winter. Some crews are getting their bags quite quickly once they find the fish. It may take a little time to locate them but once you do find the reds you’re in for some serious fun.
Anglers fishing fresh bait like squid and mackerel strips have fared best, though the soft plastic throwers are getting their fair share too. It's a good time of year to target snapper on plastics as the bigger fish will hunt the shallower ground, making it easier to stay in contact with your plastics and hence catch more fish. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
In the estuaries the scaly buggers have been excellent in both Pambula and Merimbula systems. I've guided in both systems a lot recently and to say the fishing is good is an understatement. It’s awesome! With the exception of whiting, all the species are chewing – flathead, blackfish, bream plus the pelagic species like salmon, tailor and trevally all having a go. Both these systems are tiny but they continue to fire on all cylinders and will continue to do so over coming weeks.
What l do find amusing is that some people say the fishing is slow. I’ve seen it countless times at the ramp when asking fellow fishos how they went. A common response is “no bloody fish in here” and off they go in a huff! A quick glance at their outfits reveals why their efforts haven't been rewarded. Heavy line, big sinkers and rods more suited to chasing kings on jigs are a poor choice when you’re trying to fool wily bream.
The key to more consistent results is to fish light – light leaders, smaller sinkers and jigheads, smaller soft plastics and so on. It's even more important in the cooler months when the water temps drop and the water visibility is crystal clear. Go light and watch your catch rates soar.
On the ocean beaches and rocks it's been steady fishing without being dynamite. The flat seas have played a big part in that with little white water, but once we get some decent swell it will come alive again.
Salmon and tailor will make the beachgoers happy with the rock brigade getting amongst blackfish, drummer and groper. Short Point would be the pick of the platforms with crab, cunjevoi and cabbage the better baits to use.
On a political note l hope some common sense comes into play with the so-called reform on estuary netting. I hope all rec fishers have made submissions to their local MP and minister for Fisheries outlining their disagreement with the proposed changes to netting in our estuaries.Reads: 563