This has probably been 1 of the best marlin seasons in 10-15 years and it’s still going strong. At the moment, tagging 2-3 fish a day is a bad day. If you are not tagging 10 or more then you are not really marlin fishing.
But seriously, just seeing 1 of these beautiful creatures up close and personal is quite an experience. Plenty of fishos over the last couple of months have done just that and some of the keener or more experienced are tagging 10-15 in a day. As you read this, we will still be seeing marlin off the south coast, and there have been quite a number caught further down as the currents continue to push hard.
We seem to be experiencing warmer and warmer currents over the last few years. This is having some interesting benefits. This past summer we saw a coral trout, sweetlip emperor and a northern barracuda caught on the south coast, and the marlin run seems to be pushing further too. The downside is the organisms and plants that are used to a colder temperature are becoming affected. For instance, the Tasmanian kelp forests are starting to disappear due to the rise in temperature and the introduction of new organisms such as the long spined sea urchin, which eats everything in its way.
So these warmer waters may see an increase in some things, but obviously there is a downside as well. It’s hard to say what the future holds. All we know is things are always changing and always will. What you need to do is be able to adapt to the changes.
The kingfish are not holding in any real place at the moment, but they are out there in schools, so you need to adapt. We know that there are some good kingies up to 15kg knocking around off the Bay, so if you want some of this action I suggest downrigging livies and walk them with the boat just in gear at a depth of 10-15m along the inshore reefs.
Some good fish have been getting speared, but the boats are struggling on rod and reel, so downrigging and covering ground would be the go. It’s encouraging to see some nice fish around, and let’s hope by mid May that there are some good schools off Moruya or Broulee. By then we usually see the marlin bite pick up again, as fish that have travelled south retreat north to warmer waters.
Mahimahi have been around in massive numbers again this past summer and into autumn, as they were last year. These guys are at the FAD, the wave rider buoy off Durras, plus headlands, and can be found under your boat pretty much anywhere offshore at the moment. The only problem is that they are all around 50cm and need to grow a further 10cm to make the 60cm legal length for dinner. And they make the best dinner on earth. It’s very frustrating when you have the ocean’s number 1 delicacy swimming all over the place and they are too small, but if you are persistent enough you’ll find a few legal ones, and if you are lucky enough there is the odd bull here and there.
The inshore reefs are seeing the snapper bite lift and anglers smiling a lot more lately, compared to a few weeks ago when they were threatening to give up and sell their boats. For sale signs have been ripped up and wives are happy they have stopped whingeing and are out of the house again. What has given them an even bigger smile is a nice run of flathead as well. Not many things can give a mahimahi fillet a run for its money, but a flathead tail sure tries hard.
Summer may have finished, but I don’t think you can beat autumn for its comfortable temperatures and fish availability. Other reef species that have been consistent lately have been mowies and nannygai. There have been some big schools of massive salmon smashing bait offshore also, and amongst them have been kings. So drive up with a metal on light gear for some fun. Some of these salmon are 2-3kg — horses!
On the beaches we are seeing salmon, tailor and whiting. Good numbers of salmon seem to be south and good numbers of whiting north if you want to break it up. Tailor have been thick in some areas and there have been some arvo sessions where you could spin up 20-50 off some beaches.
We are also starting to see some good mulloway being caught from the beaches after a great run in the estuary over the last 6 or so weeks. Nearly every night there were hookups, runs, bustoffs and landed mulloway. It didn’t seem to matter what bait you were using, obviously fresh is always best, but so long as you were fishing the tide change you were in with a chance. Bycatch has been big rays or sharks, so don’t get too excited at first take, as it could be any 1 of the 3.
Bream in the estuary can be hard to find sometimes, but once you are onto them they are in good condition, with some thumpers getting around. There are plenty of flatties too, and you just have to be in the right place when they are on the chew. Paul got a nice 85cm one off Corrigans Beach, and Caine had a run of 50cm plus fish off Long Beach the other day. Obviously things change daily, so it always comes back to the number 1 rule of finding the fish first.
That’s what Daniel Dowley did at the recent Tuross Heads Flathead and Bream Tournament. He found a 47 and an 85cm flathead, and backed up with a couple of average bream to take out the tournament. Friend and fellow angler on the day, Layton Brant, came in seventh. Another friend and customer of the Compleat Angler Batemans Bay got second place, congrats Billy Sgouros! Quite a few of our customers finished in the top 20, so well done to you all.
Autumn carries with it a farewell to the hot weather and a reminder of the cold to come, but it is definitely a time to be in the moment because the temperature is just right, the sunrises and sunsets are colourful, and the fishing is on fire.Reads: 592