Plenty of fish in the sea
  |  First Published: May 2016

Last article we were a little concerned about the drop in the marlin bite as autumn hit with calls of “It’s over for the season” or “they have all gone”, with the constant northeasterly wind turning the water over. Then, a lack of bait got us a little worried, but since then we have seen some southerlies blow and a return of bait to see the marlin season kicking along.

It’s this time of the year when we should see some big blues coming down with this last big current push from the north before the season does eventually cool off. It’s been another sensational marlin bite matching last year, or maybe even better, and it’s been great to see it carrying well into autumn.

The current off the bay at the moment looks good for chasing some big blues. It would be a good idea to travel over the shelf and pull some lures to the east for about 10km, before coming back down that same line. Fishing the one line all day with the current moving south means you’re fishing different water all day, and eventually big blue has to come down that current with whatever else may be swimming down it.

An exciting skirt to pull that’s on the market these days is the Baby Blue by Marlin Magic. It is a heavy weighted jet head. I’m not a huge fan of lures but when there is no bait on board and lures are all you have got, then this lure is one to have. Just recently, we were trolling into pretty ordinary seas and it wasn’t the best conditions, but this lure’s heavy head kept it in the water and tracking, plus it was emitting a great smoke trail that brought a marlin up into the mix.

The marlin turned away from the skip bait we had out and took the Baby Blue lure instead. These lures can be run in any position and are great in shotgun position where the lure can swoop down to a metre at times.

Another fish that doesn’t say no to these lures is yellowfin tuna, and when you are trolling for blue marlin this autumn you can expect the odd yellowfin. There has been the odd one getting caught, with some nice sizes and numbers being recorded by commercial boats. These guys are a welcome surprise coming off the back of summer.

Now we are going into the tail end of the marlin season, you will find them start to taper off with some being caught towards the end of autumn, with some black marlin in close and the chance of mahimahi as well.

In all, we are very pleased with such a great season that certainly did not disappoint. It would be great if this little run of yellowfin tuna is a sign of what’s to come in the tuna department. May and June are the months I like to target yellowfin, and that’s not far away.

Closer to shore, snapper have been plentiful and afternoon bites have been great by the sounds of some reports. There are still plenty of boats going out and coming home empty handed. If you want to change that, then you are going to have to change what you are doing and usually it starts at the basics. Go lighter on leader, berley, anchor and catch livies. Make sure you sound out the area, and one of the biggest factors, which probably hasn’t been mentioned this century is change your bait. Get radical people, live on the edge, take a walk on the wild side and change your bait.

Use prawn, or even better fresh prawns, which is possible after our great prawn season. You can also use tuna fillet, again preferably fresh and if you picked up some slimy mackeral for livies, you can use butterflied slimies. What has been working a treat for some as well is slimy mackerel heads. You can have your old faithful out or livies with berley and not get a touch, only to drop down slimy mackerel heads and boom! So get creative with your bait, sometimes sometimes you just need to make a change.

Kingfish! Yes, they are on and off, but that’s what kingfish do. They are out there and you could score, but you have to put in the hours and work for them. It would be good to have them in numbers schooling off Moruya like we did a few years back, but that I can’t promise. You might be best to go catch some flathead if you want fish for dinner.

On the beaches, the salmon have been popular and they are in massive schools at certain destinations along the south coast. With them, you’ll find tailor and also along the beaches have been some very impressive catches of bream with a few flatties thrown in.

Whiting are still a target species this month, and it seems the beaches are fishing the best they have been for a while.

You also have a chance of mulloway and sharks during dawn, dusk and night hours. The beaches are on fire!

The rock fishing has also fired right up. There were a lot of good snapper caught from the rocks over the warmer months, which overshadowed the kingies, which we also hope to catch over the warm period. There have been some great snapper caught including Jarrod Ward’s 6kg stonker and we would expect that run to continue into the cooler months.

Another species that is considered a winter species is the drummer, and the boys are already hooking into them and the blackfish will be starting to show up too from now on.

Estuary fishing is still reasonable, with massive bream getting caught in some of our local hot bream spots.

Another welcome arrival is the mulloway. Mulloway are still a fish being targeted mostly at night, and this is in full swing and it’s now that you’ll start catching them around our ocean bays and headlands. A nice one was recently caught off Durras, so they are definitely there.

Mulloway will still be targeted in the estuaries and hopefully there continues to be an abundance of them. I’m hoping to get some time off work this September to October to give them a good crack during the day when they start chasing bait in the estuary again.

The back reaches have been reportedly quiet, with not much to report on in the way of bass. There has been a bit of attention on the trout though, and some customers out further west have been chasing cod.

Mud crabs are about and blue swimmers are around in this clearer water. For the prawns, it seems the madness has subsided with a few still giving it a go.

We are on cusp of seasons, and we can kiss our summer good bye. Autumn is a great time of year with a bit of everything, and there’s still plenty of fish in the sea. So get out and enjoy our lovely part of the world.

• 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).

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