Heaps happening at the moment, despite the rather cool weather. By the time this column gets to print we should be experiencing some reasonable yellowfin and kingfish action if last year was anything to go by.
From memory it was about June- July when The Banks started fishing well for kings with some of the best action I've seen it produce in years. Just about everyone who was jigging or live-baiting was catching fish and kings up to 15kg weren't uncommon. We caught a swag of fish on jigs, keeping enough for our immediate needs and releasing the rest.
Around the same time, the yellowfin showed up out wider with a heap of fish of 20kg to 30kg. Some bigger models were caught but everyone who got out and cubed ended up with fish.
We took a few trolling lures but most of the action was on cubes and we had a ball on 8kg and 10kg. There are a lot of anglers down this way gearing up and hoping those ’fin show up like they did last year. Some are even predicting a better run now that there is less longline pressure on our fish.
We've been gearing up and getting ready over the past few weeks in anticipation. We've fished wind-on leaders over the past several seasons but we've just recently changed all our tackle back over to longer doubles with a snap on the end. This applies to lures and cubing traces.
Wind-ons have their advantages in a small boat but they also have a few drawbacks, such as having to put less line on your reels to allow for the heavier leader being wound on. They are also a bit fiddly if you need to change over while fishing and are more difficult to make.
With the double and snap set-up we're using now we simply have a 2m plaited double on our 8kg and 10kg outfits and 4m on our 15kg, 24kg and 37kgoutfits. A Sampo snap swivel goes onto the end of the double and then we can clip on anything from a live bait, lure or cube trace to any outfit.
I've re rigged all our marlin lures onto 5m traces of 300lb and 400lb Momoi Extra Hard and we've also made new live-bait traces for slimies out of 200lb and 300lb Momoi. Our cube traces are all 3m of 125lb and 100lb Ande Pink. Our yellowfin lures are now on 3m of 150lb or 200lb Momoi and carry single hooks.
We've made sure that all our doubles and traces are well within IGFA length regulations and the advantage is that we are now carrying less gear, have more line on our reels and can simply clip on anything within seconds and that even includes the odd shark trace in case a mako shows up.
There’s no fiddling with Dacron loops and we can use a range of gear that will fit every outfit on the boat and be legal in length of double and trace. We've had to invest in a quality set of tracing gloves but that's a small price to pay for the advantages as I see them.
One of our first trips with the new trace set-ups was a live-bait session at The Banks. In the week prior the area was alive with bonito and whaler sharks that were jumping out of the water chasing bonnies and slimies. The plan was to try to hook one for my daughter, Rebecca, but we never even saw a whaler that day. We did hook a black marlin on a live slimy late in the day but the hook pulled out after a few minutes.
We saw a couple of amazing sights while anchored at The Banks. The first was a huge waterspout out wider and the second was two boatloads of divers who pulled up at the back of our berley trail and jumped in the water. Think about that for a second: Whaler sharks to almost 200kg had been caught in the days preceding, we had been berleying for several hours and these guys jumped in the water about 100m down our berley trail!
They probably had no idea we were seriously berleying for sharks but that's still a very stupid thing to do. I suspect they were looking to spear a kingfish but they went home empty handed after half an hour.
The Bay and Basin Lure and Fly Club has been operating for several years and is gaining a reputation for running some great estuary competitions, including monthly bream socials drawing up to 20 boats and an annual flathead comp. Most of their comps are held at St Georges Basin and now that this piece of water has been free of river netters for several years, it's producing some spectacular results.
In recent months catches on soft plastics and hard lures have included trevally to almost 3kg, tailor to 70 cm, whiting to 40 cm, bream over a kilo and flathead to 85 cm. I can remember five years ago when no one would even bother to fish The Basin because it was ‘fished out’.
Most anglers assumed it was recreational fishers who had caught all the fish and done the damage. We probably had no idea how many fish were being netted each night and how much damage was being done by half a dozen pro netters. I'd say the evidence is well and truly there by now on how much a piece of water can improve once the netting stops.
I went along to a recent club meeting to give a talk on photography and I was quite impressed with the way these guys are going about things. The club has some very talented anglers and there is a great interchange of ideas and tactics at meetings. To find out more ring Jason Mayberry on 0418 409 921.
Like many anglers I have a great deal of mistrust and disrespect for the tactics that the Nature Conservation Council uses to further its beliefs that fishing should be banned. I've seen press releases fabricated from mistruths and personal emotions and these people are also pushing to have more locations made off-limits to protect the grey nurse shark. The NCC would have us believe that this species is on the verge of extinction with only several hundred specimens spread through NSW waters.
The April 1 episode of the Sunday program on Channel Nine featured this mistruth and did a pretty good job of proving that there are many, many more grey nurse sharks than the scientists and Greens have been saying. Part of the show was filmed down our way and despite some bad weather, the crew didn't have a lot of trouble finding plenty of grey nurse sharks on several reef systems.
This is going to be a contentious issue in the next few years and I wouldn't be too surprised to see a few lies being dispelled and some Green groups being shown up for spreading mistruths and propaganda with no factual basis whatsoever. Based on the Sunday program, it seems grey nurse may be in the thousands so stay tuned for more developments. No matter what happens, the NCC will keep pushing to have every bit of inshore reef and fishing ground off-limits because recreational fishing methods are so ‘destructive and threatening’ to the ‘endangered’ grey nurse.Reads: 760