Land-based guys having a ball
  |  First Published: July 2014

We have seen a quite a few small yellowfin tuna around 6-8kg being caught along the shelf and very few larger yellowfin at this stage. However, by the time you read this we should have seen some more of the big boys come to town.

The marlin fishing has been on fire coming into the beginning of June which I expect to be the last late run of them. Pino and Nell Vecchi have been getting out trying to catch tuna, and the marlin have been getting in the way every time they go out. Not a bad problem to have. One of the marlin was caught on a Halco Laser Pro.

Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club will hold their annual tuna tournament and the number of boats entering will give us a good indication on what’s out there. There are loads of stripy tuna and not many albacore at this stage. I think once the water cools a bit more the tuna will start showing up.

A nice way to spend a calm, sunny winter’s day is to pack the lunch and head out with mates and cube above one of our sea mounts. You’ll find in those sunny, windless days you’ll end up in a T-shirt, soaking up the rays and having a yarn with some nice food and drinks. It’s bloody beautiful. You’d never know it was winter. And you’ll never know when that school of albacore will catch onto your berley trail or when that big 60kg yellowfinned keg will sound your ratchet into overdrive. Come into the shop and grab a 15kg box of single frozen IQF pilchards for cubing and a way you go. A great way to spend a winter’s day.


Snapper are still going relatively strong in the shallower waters, and some boats have been finding a few now in the 50-60m depths. We’re still seeing a lot of trevally around as well, and masses of leatherjackets are still in plague proportions. Whenever I see a customer buying a pile of new sinkers, and steam is coming out of his ears, I can guess what fish he hasn’t been catching. The leatherjackets are driving people mad at present and the only thing you can do is move. I’ve never been one for wire traces. Some anglers try them, but I just think you are going to cut your catch rate right down. Best to keep moving.

Some of our local land-based anglers have been having a ball on the inshore snapper and even catching them over sand in rocky bays. Layton Brant, Jem Abbot, Nick Butler and Gav Thorning are the land-based ocean fishing gurus, catching mulloway, snapper and sharks. One night they got a nice mulloway and five nice snapper over the sand.

We have found some nice mulloway being caught off the beaches and certain bays in the area, as well as plenty of sharks still on the go. And now you can throw snapper into the mix. The best baits have been freshly caught squid as usual.

I would expect these guys to be switching onto the drummer by now and have noticed customers lately coming in grabbing the appropriate gear for them. Typically that consists of a good 10-12’ rod rated at 6-10kg with a light tip and heavy butt area, although some people like wrestling them on lighter or graphite outfits. The fish can bite gently, but they can be a tough battle so the longer, more powerful rod can steer them clear of the reef.

They do respond well to berley, but so does everything else so pick your time and place for that. You don’t want a school of sweep in a feeding frenzy. A little tip I was given by Dean Dawson was to berley up the place the day before. Your berley can consist of stale bread and chicken pellets mixed with water. If you are to berley during your fishing session, throw a handful out every five to 10 minutes. Just keep in mind you don’t want to attract too many undesirables.

At a good fishing spot where the drummer are prolific, the simplest and best approach is sometimes just an uncooked prawn. Other baits include bread and I like the convenience of cunjevoi, plus it’s free and extremely effective. Collect it at low tide and remember you can only take 20 knobs per person. Bait up small hooks as the drummer have small mouths, and make sure the hooks are strong as the fish will straighten and break hooks. A Mustad 542 Viking double strength is one such hook in a size 1 to 1/0. You could use a Mustad Big Gun size 2. Fishos often find a favourite and stick to it, but I like to keep trying different things myself and stay open. It keeps things interesting as well.

Fish with a running ball sinker as small as you can, depending on the wind and swell. You don’t need a leader – you can run the sinker from the main line. The line should be around 30lb. Some anglers like fishing lighter, but you still will get busted up on 30lb.

The time to chase these rock brutes is early morning on a high tide or a run up to a high and late afternoon in the shadows of the cliffs. Cast into gutters and holes with a slow retrieve and then hang on!


The beaches are still seeing some whiting getting around leading into June, and the salmon and tailor are starting to show up as well. The tailor have been the stand-out thus far, with some monsters being caught. Customers have been coming into the shop with stories and their hands spread as wide as they can, claiming the tailor are “this big!” It’s good to see them getting excited. Last year the tailor were a bit absent so looks like they are making up for it this year.

People are losing a lot of rigs to the tailor, so you may want to use a small wire trace or knottable wire to avoid bite-offs. Also keeping your presentation moving sometimes keeps the line away from them a bit, gets them more focused around the presentation.

Customers are catching some good bream and flathead off the beaches as well.


You can always rely on the good old South Coast Aussie flattie when you venture out in the estuaries. Mulloway are also on the cards for those who want to chase them, and it’s this time of the year where you fish out the front of the estuaries for bream as they move out to spawn. Fishing along rock walls and the deeper areas is where you can find them. Your best option is to use either blades or plastics rigged on slightly heavier jigheads up to 5g.

All in all, there seems to be a bit around at the moment. It’s winter! So rug up, stay warm and stay safe when fishing the rocks for drummer this winter.

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).

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