If this time last year is anything to go by, there should be some reasonable fishing on the go at present. From memory, last August offered some great fishing including a phenomenal run of yellowfin out wide, a few nice kings on The Banks and some decent reds on plastics in Jervis Bay and around Currarong.
There were also some big bream on lures in St Georges Basin and the Shoalhaven River and squid in Jervis Bay. The rocks were also fishing well for drummer and the odd blackfish.
There was pretty much something for everyone so no excuses that there's nothing about and it's not worth getting out there. Of course, August is also renown for strong westerly winds so these may put a spanner in the works if they blow this year.
We had an early preview of the westerly winds in late May with several weeks of intermittent winds that blew up to 30 knots. Surprisingly, we got a few weekends that were wind-free after they blew all week. It's usually the other way around so there were no complaints in that regard.
Getting an accurate weather report is vital if you plan to head offshore in a small boat. Even in close, Jervis Bay can blow up pretty nasty if the weather turns bad. We recently headed out wide with a prediction of 13 to 18-knot westerly winds tipped to abate by midday. They never did and increased to 25 knots, which made for a long trip back from the continental shelf. The new Evolution 550 Platinum handled it surprisingly well despite heading straight into 2m wind waves that were capping. We stayed dry and suffered very little pounding but I wouldn't be in a hurry to repeat the experience.
I use several weather reports when planning a trip and usually start to collate data about Thursday each week before a weekend of fishing. I used to use www.buoyweather.com but this has recently changed format to only provide a two-day forecast for free. You need to sign up and subscribe if you want the four- or five-day forecast.
A much better one is www.seabreeze.com .au which is a windsurfing website but offers accurate weather and sea conditions out to 7 days and is free to view. The wind strength is shown in a graph style with arrows indicating wind direction. I've found it very good and easy to use.
Local anglers can also ring the VMR Shoalhaven office and get a 24-hour recorded weather forecast on 02 4447 4144. This is usually quite accurate and up to date but I have recently called this number and received a forecast that was more than 24 hours old.
If you regularly fish outside you should always get an accurate weather report and I'd also suggest joining up to the Shoalhaven Marine Rescue Association. For $30 per year they will give you an SA number for your vessel along with radio and rescue coverage while fishing. We never go out without logging on and, touch wood, we've never needed to be rescued or towed home. SMRA can be contacted on 02 4447 4466. They are at the pilot station at Crookhaven Heads.
A few mates have been experimenting with fishing the bottom out around the Kiama and Drum Canyons. Fishing the bottom in 200m to 300m is challenging, to say the least, but the rewards are worth the effort from what I've seen. Obviously trying to this over Summer with a strong current running south is a waste of time so Winter is the time to take it on because there is much less current.
There are several types of tackle in use down this way and it totally relies on your budget. The cheapest option is a big 9” Alvey winch mounted to the gunwale or a rail. You can run several hundred metres of 150lb to 200lb braid on this and get away with a fairly cheap entry into a completely new world of fishing.
Next step up is an old 24kg or 37kg stand-up outfit loaded up with braid. This is a cheap option if you have an old outfit lying around as a spare or you can pick one up at the right price.
If winding up 200m of line every drop doesn't get you excited you can go the whole hog and invest in an electric reel that takes all the hard work out of it. The reel simply connects to the boat batteries and takes all the work out of getting that line, heavy sinker and fish back up off the bottom.
It's not a very sporting option but we're not talking sportfishing here. We're talking about dropping 2kg of lead and several baits to the bottom, leaving it down there for 10 minutes and then winching it back up – hopefully with a few gemfish or blue eye cod attached.
Bottom fishing the shelf is similar to bottom fishing the inshore grounds for morwong or flathead in some respects; similar paternoster rigs with a sinker on the bottom and droppers above, only on a much larger scale. A window sash weight makes a good sinker and the trace consists of 200lb Momoi Extra Hard with half a dozen 10/0 Tuna Circle hooks on droppers. Add some lumo tubing and beads along with something tough like squid or strip baits of tuna or whole slimies for bait and away you go.
After a few hours you'll be promising to check out electric reel prices (about $2000 each!)when you get back but those blue eye and gemfish fillets will make it all worthwhile.
I thought I'd give a couple of quick mentions of gear I've been using lately that has performed well and been worthwhile.
We're trolling lures for yellowfin and marlin and my complete range of lures consists of just about two brands. The majority are JB lures including the Chook, Dingo, Cross Breed, Taipan and Chopper. You can buy JB Lures at www.jbmarlinlures.com or down at Dave's shop at Huskisson.
Hollowpoint Lures have a well-deserved reputation and you can buy them at www.hollowpointlures.com or at McCallum's Tackle in Nowra. Momoi Hi Catch Ultra Hard leader material is very tough, well priced and great to work with. It has an extra-hard outer shell for additional abrasion resistance which means you can usually go down one size and fish a leader that's 50lb or 100lb lighter than you normally would.Reads: 1971