As in previous years the build was slow and steady, but inevitability going to kick in. Bluefin were greeted by commercial boats out very wide as they moved up the south coast. It was only going to be a matter of weeks before they would come within reach of the recreational boats.
Still they are quite far out and most boats are looking for a window in the weather. It all went down from the beginning of July and I expect to see them taper off by now.
Bluefin were being caught from Eden to Sydney. It was a cracker of a month. Fish were well spread and on certain days would fire up at certain places. Bermagui took the cake this year, being the most consistent location. Lots of good 40-80kg fish were caught, with some 110-150kg mules getting around as well.
May and June saw some good days on yellowfin and albacore and there were a couple of good yellowfin caught during the run of the bluefin. However, it was bluefin fever running through most anglers’ veins. There's no real secret on catching these fish these days; we have a lot of information at our fingertips now. It was just a matter of getting out there, being wide enough to find the temp breaks and that warmer, slack water. Water temps of around 18-19°C are ideal. And all you then need to do is drive around with a mixed spread of skirts and divers and watch your sounder. Bluefin on many occasions will pack attack your spread and it’s all hands on deck. It’s the kind of mayhem fishermen dream about.
It pays to keep a look out on your sounder in productive looking waters. You might spot the fish down 100m or so. You then might want to stop to cube or drop a jig down and see if they can be raised. And if all that fails, keep one ear on the radio. Boats are more than happy to share the information these days, and the more boats in the area the more berley in the water and fish can be up for the day if it’s a cracking bite.
Probably the most asked question in the shop in regards to bluefin would be what leader thickness to use. The bluefin are ranging from 40-180kg during the South Coast migration, so to avoid tears from losing the fish of a lifetime and to stay in the game, 200lb would be the happy medium for trolled lures. Once you’re pulled up and cubing you can still use 200lb and get a bite, but if you notice only smaller fish or no fish will take your hook you should obviously go down in leader.
Most of my customers have been purchasing 80lb fluorocarbon. Big, shy fish would fall for this, and good quality fluorocarbon is hard enough to withstand the abrasion from the mouth of the fish for the period of the fight. Keep this in mind for next year because by the time you read this the bite should be over.
Still, just because the bluefin are off the target list doesn’t mean you should give up on tuna altogether. The spring run of albacore and school yellowfin is on our doorstep. You can afford to go even lighter on the gear if you want some fun. You can still come across 20-30kg yellowfin at this time of year.
Further inshore and in the shallows snapper are still on, and I’m finding every year more and more anglers getting in on the plastics. Another big trend at the moment is 17g, 19g, 20g or 30g vibes or soft vibes from 7-10cm long which many anglers are having a lot of success with. Sometimes a change is as good as a holiday, and once you catch your first fish on something different your confidence builds from then on.
These days your fishing doesn’t have to be the same old technique or approach; there’s a lot out there available now to keep things interesting. I’ve just ordered in the TT Jig Spinners in three different sizes that you can attach to your jighead for added flash and vibration. I will try this on snapper and get back to you on the results.
After many months now of snapper being inshore I do expect to see some good snapper being caught in the 50-80m depth now. In past years I’ve landed some cracking snapper in 70m of water through the spring months.
Off the rocks the drummer have been as solid as previous winters and are a good, stable fish to target. Blackfish move around the rocks in big schools at this time of year, and snapper (normally a more elusive fish from the rocks) have been targeted with great success for months now.
It seems like everybody who has given snapper a crack from the stones or bays has had some success, and catching them on a 7” jerkshad plastic is a good lure option. The good thing about catching snapper from the rocks with lures is that you can use a 7ft rod because most of the fight is done out in the water. By the time the fish reaches close quarters it is tired and can be easily handled and released.
Squid are also still very much on the menu as well, so when your rock fishing make sure you haven’t left your squid jigs at home.
On the beaches tailor continue to be the species to target. Salmon are there, but tailor have been big and plentiful. Amongst the tailor have been some good bream as well. Customers have been coming in saying they have been getting bream up to 46cm. That’s massive for a yellowfin bream.
In the estuary? What’s that? Bluefin running, snapper inshore, drummer off the rocks, massive tailor and bream on the beaches... it’s small wonder the estuary fishing is taking a back seat. Estuary fishers are definitely in struggle town in comparison to everyone else.
Still, if you’re determined to fish the estuaries this month there are some reasonable options available. I recommend baiting big for slow lethargic flathead. They will make an effort for a bigger bait. Small mulloway will be up the back and bigger ones out the front with the odd capture around the bridge. By the time you read this things will be changing and the estuary perch will be moving back upstream and be hungry and on the chew. The toughest time for fishing the estuary is behind us now and we can start to shake off our winter layers and welcome spring.
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: 697