Hopefully by the time you read this, the weather might be warming up after what has been one of the coldest and windiest Winters I can recall.
The weather back in June and July was atrocious, to say the least, with just about every weekend blown out due to strong westerlies or southerlies. If it wasn't strong winds it was mountainous seas that kept most boats in driveways or garages.
I think we got out twice in six weekends but there were some fish about in July with yellowfin up to 70kg being caught by the odd boat that got out mid-week. But to have a long string of weekends blown out had most locals chewing their arms off.
We did fish one weekend in mid-July on a day when it never got above 10° all day and the wind blew at 20 knots. We fished around the edges of a bitterly cold storm front on the new Dad's Boat, a very well-appointed Caribbean 40 with all the good gear.
The plan was to drag a few lures around for a yellowfin and maybe pull up and cube if we found any. We went out over The Banks and headed slightly north before putting a spread out just inside the shelf. After half an hour a Bluewater Squidgy in technicolour yawn went off and Bruce Murphy was on.
Everyone was hoping for a decent yellowfin on the 10” lure but when a marlin jumped there were a few crew members with sagging bottom jaws. It took two of us 10 minutes to find the marlin tags and applicator as they'd all been changed over to pelagics tags for yellowfin.
No one would seriously expect to hook a marlin in July and by the time we found the tags and got set up for a shot the fish threw the hook. It would have been great to get the first marlin of the season in mid July but it wasn't to be.
Enforcer fished the same day and landed a couple of yellowfin to 20kg before it got too cold for them. The crew on OutCast fished the following weekend and Nick Pierce hooked a whaler shark on 10kg tackle about noon in some pretty ordinary conditions along the shelf line. They lost the fish at 9pm. After fishing all day and half the night my young bloke had to front up to work the following morning and didn't he know all about it.
By late July and early August the weather offered a few opportunities to get out and have a go. Most boats took advantage of the situation after weeks of bad weather. The guys on Enforcer landed some nice yellowfin to 50kg and the crew on Benchmark took a few good fish to almost 70kg.
Daniel Bennett from Predator Charters in Kiama also put his clients on to some good fish whenever the weather allowed. I can't remember fishing one day in the past few months without hearing of Predator cleaning up out wide on good yellowfin. Give him a call on 0400 446793.
As the weather warms up over the next month or so we're going to give the reds on floaters a good nudge. We normally get some nice fish around Spring on floaters and soft plastics.
This year I've got a few wider marks plotted and a heap of bait and berley in the freezer.
Anchoring up and fishing floaters back down a berley trail is very enjoyable. We normally like to anchor some distance up-current of reef and gravel before getting a berley trail of pilchard cubes going. I normally cut each pilchard into half a dozen cubes and toss a few over every minute or so. You need a little current running to do this but no too much and no wind pushing in the opposite direction.
With the right conditions it’s easy and very effective. It may take an hour or two of berleying but the fish nearly always show up and when they do some great fun is to be had, along with some tasty meals of snapper.
I've fished handlines and threadline outfits over the years for reds with floaters but these days I fish a barra-weight double-handed Loomis BCR852 baitcaster matched to a Calcutta 400 reel with 250m of 6kg Platypus Low Stretch in pink. I think I've found the ultimate snapper-on-floaters outfit.
You can free-spool a lightly-weighted tuna cube on a 2/0 circle hook back down as if it's just free floating with the berley cubes and when a fish grabs the bait and hooks itself I instantly wind the Calcutta into gear.
The double-handed cork grip fits in a rod holder but I never set the rod when fishing floaters. The bait really needs to be drifting back and slowly sinking at all times. If those spring yellowfin don't turn up in numbers you can expect to see us out chasing reds over those newly plotted reefs and gravel patches.
Now's the time to be getting your bream and flathead gear ready for the upcoming season of lure casting. If last year in St Georges Basin is anything to go by, get ready for some very hot action on big bream, big flathead and even the odd huge tailor.
If that doesn't get you excited, have a go in Broughton Creek for some thumper bream, or in the Shoalhaven for a jewie.
With Spring on us, you could also do worse than be out chasing a few pelagics. The entrance at Crookhaven Heads and along the backs of most beaches and around Jervis Bay will be worth a go for salmon, tailor and even the odd bonito or striped tuna. Roll on Spring!Reads: 751