Heaps happening down here in December so if you can't find a few fish now, you just aren't trying. The past few months have been a little patchy but there were fish about for those who put in the effort.
I recently fished a bass and estuary perch social day arranged by the Southern Bass and Basin Lure and Fly Clubs. We all launched at Nowra Bridge and headed up river on first light.
The aim was to catch some bass and EPs for the DPI Fisheries and the Department of Water and Energy to tag and fit with small transmitters. Chris Walsh from DPI is the guy behinds this exciting program where receiver stations have been submerged along the river to track and monitor the tagged fish.
At present they have a receiver stations set up from just below Tallowa Dam right down to Crookhaven Heads to monitor bass and EPs as they travel to feed or migrate to spawn.
We supplied about 40 fish for Chris and his helpers to fit with monitors and the information that this program will provide over the next six months is going to be very interesting.
The day was also a chance to catch up with some old friends and I even caught a bass over 40 cm on a plastic, which was a first for this saltwater-bred sport and game fisher.
The long-awaited Spring run of yellowfin tuna didn't eventuate in September and October, which was a shame. There were a few fish about but they were patchy at best and mainly from 15kg to 30kg. They were good fish and great fun but spending all day and $100 in fuel to catch one doesn't make for a successful day in my books.
The shark fishing made up for it with some very nice captures of makos. Young Beau, 12, caught a 212kg mako on 37kg tackle for an Australian GFAA junior record claim which may also be a World junior record. Ben O'Donnell also got a couple of nice makos which went 145kg and 117.5kg on 8kg line.
Our boat didn't fare so well in the mako chase. My daughter Bec lost three fish from 150kg to 200kg on 15kg line and we got the rear step and berley pot on Voodoo chewed up by one very aggressive 200kg fish that came straight down the berley trail, ate a bait and swam straight into the back of the boat.
The whole boat jolted forward as it ate the rear step, which now looks like it has been hacked by a tomahawk. We hooked up the shark and it promptly raced straight around the bow before Bec could back off the drag. The line touched the hull and popped a few minutes later.
Last Spring was a big learning curve in shark fishing for us and while we didn't set the world on fire, we did have some fun and got a chance to get our tactics and techniques in order. The boat suffered a few scratches and chew marks but we're going to keep chasing those makos because they are just so unpredictable and great fun. Bec has her heart set on getting one so how can I say no.
By the time this column goes to print there should be a few striped marlin out wide and hopefully some mahi mahi. October saw a lot of baitfish about and water to 20° so with any luck the season will be productive.
Shoalhaven Gamefishing Club has recently gained a lot of new members and the upcoming season is going to be hotly contested in the tag-and-release section. We're going to be out there at every opportunity fishing The Banks with live slimies or dragging lures and live baits around out wide. One good thing about marlin is they don't try to eat the boat!
I've no idea what's happening with mahi mahi these days. A couple of years ago you could always catch a few simply by trolling lures around the trap floats along the shelf line or in closer around The Block and Cheese. These days those traps are nowhere to be seen and trying to find a mahi mahi is almost impossible.
There should be some good ones out there over the next month but unless you come across a big floating log your only chance will be dropping a livie down around the Fisheries FAD out near The Block and Cheese.
Mahi mahi are great fun on light tackle and even better eating so if you get a few, look after them. They now have a size limit of 60cm and a bag limit of 10, with only one fish over 110 cm.
The inshore pelagics were in fine form in October. We enjoyed a couple of great sessions on the salmon out around Crookhaven Heads before a couple of commercial seiners turned up and ran a net around them. I heard reports of 30-tonne catches on a few occasions and that was just down here.
Those boats also hit the Port Kembla area hard and must be taking hundreds of tonnes of one of our prime sportfish species every Spring all within only 500m of the coastline. It's an absolute tragedy that they are allowed to do this legally.
Out a little wider, the bottom drifters have been making some nice hauls of flathead and morwong in between losing gear to the leatherjacket plague.
There is a regular band of anglers and boats who fish out of Greenwell Point and Culburra who specialise in drifting for flathead out the back of Seven Mile Beach. It’s easy fishing and the rewards are well worth it. Those flathead do taste nice but a lot of fishos are complaining about the jackets eating everything in sight.
The Nature Conservation Council’s legal bid to make the NSW Government impose 18 non-fishing, sanctuary zones along the NSW coastline to protect grey nurse sharks has been thrown out of court. In typical NCC fashion they made a statement claiming that because of this the grey nurse shark would be extinct in 10 years.
Justice Garry Downes acknowledged that there may be as many as 500 grey nurse sharks off the East coast but concluded that commercial fishing permits for trap and line fishing, along with recreational fishing, would not be detrimental to the species survival. Good to see common sense rule for a change.Reads: 1349