Winter means a bit of a break from gamefishing if you want it, with the potential for yellowfin tuna out wide and striped marlin as a 50-50 proposition inside the shelf, depending on the bait situation. As a matter of interest, a longliner unloaded a 174kg striped marlin trunk not so long back. Whole and on rod and reel, that would be a world record on any line class you care to name. Two stripes over 145kg were weighed in off Sydney the following week, so there’s a couple of rippers kicking around (or there were).
Just to prove it’s never over ’til it’s over, local charter boat Black and Blue caught a 20kg black on the way home from the shelf at the start of June. The poor thing was so cold though, it didn’t even have the strength to break the rubber band on the outrigger — true story!
There’s currently a fair bit of talk amongst a couple of guys about doing an overnight broadbill fish, no doubt inspired by the incredible results coming out of Tassie lately. Brrr! As I always say, let my phone ring a couple of times to wake me up and I’ll come down and take a photo of the fish on the gantry for you…
Incredibly, there are still mackerel to be had as I write this in late June, with spotties and Spanish at South West Rocks, good numbers of spotties still coming in at Wooli, and the odd Spanish as close to home as South Solitary Island.
The reality of the situation is that there may be a whole lot more winter mackerel out there than we realise. In response to cooling air temperatures, just about everyone has switched over to snapper fishing by now and the toothy critters are being largely neglected. The occasional bite-off on soft plastics and baits perhaps incorrectly being attributed to the dreaded leatherjacket scourge could actually be a more desirable species. Slimies are readily available at the regular bait haunts, so it might be worth spending a bit of time trolling the known mackerel grounds.
Of course winter means tackle maintenance time. Reels should be separated from rods and rods separated from butts if two-piece. All threads, locking rings, reel seats and guide frames will benefit from being scrubbed with a toothbrush dipped in WD40 or similar. No matter how fastidious the post-fishing cleaning regime is, salt will accumulate in those many nooks and crannies and it’s always nice to start the season with tackle in A-1 condition.
One useful tip I learned during the year was to use grease rather than oil on roller guide sleeves. I’d always advocated light oil, but the rollers often got gummy during the course of a season. Switching to a smear of Penn Reel Grease keeps has kept everything humming along nicely. A quick test in the garage has revealed that most of them could go another season without being pulled apart, but I’ll do it anyway.
Line should be discarded and replaced with fresh. I run Dacron with mono top shots on my 37kg outfits, so changing them is less of a chore. The added bonus is that one 1000m spool of new pre-test mono will do four to five reels, which equates to a substantial cost saving during the year, especially if line is being replaced on a regular basis. Lash out and get a bulk spool and you may never have to purchase new line again!
Outriggers are often neglected until the new season starts. Hinges get stiff from sitting upright for a couple of months, but it’s the halyards that present the most headaches. Remove the poles and check the tip pulleys are still turning freely, as they will abrade even the heaviest mono when under tension. While decidedly old school, zero-maintenance glass rings still remain the best choice for outrigger fittings.
If using heavy mono as halyards, bin it and rig up some new ones. Just go for something tough like Momoi Extra Hard in 500lb, as some monos have a hard outer sheath but a soft inner core. Then, once the outer defences have been breached, it’s only a matter of time before it all lets go. Similarly, crimps, especially aluminium ones, will start to corrode the minute they come into contact with saltwater, and may fail at any time if they’re more than a couple of seasons old. Dropping all those expensive outrigger fittings in the drink is not a happy experience!Reads: 1066