The bluefin bite has now tapered off, but we can look forward to a consistent yellowfin bite in the coming weeks. School yellowfin traditionally come on in October to November, and signs indicate it will be a good season. These fish range between 8-25kg, and are taking small to medium size skirts and divers.
Targeting yellowfin is different from targeting bluefin. Bluefin can be in tightly packed schools, and you can make an educated guess from the charts as to where they will be. With yellowfin and albacore, it’s about covering a lot of water. You can also pick up the odd mahimahi in the process. These fish have been showing up in catches lately, which is unusual for the end of winter and spring. Traditionally we get them in the warmer months, but this year the water has been warmer than average. We’ve been catching warm water species we wouldn’t normally get at this time.
For example, in recent months it hasn’t been uncommon to catch a marlin. We can expect more to be caught through spring, and they should kick in hard through summer.
It’s also a good time of year for albacore. We’ve had good runs of them in previous years.
All though it’s unusual to catch marlin, yellowfin, albacore and mahimahi at this time of year, we’re not complaining! It makes for an interesting fishing trip.
We’ve had a rather typical snapper run for winter; anglers have been catching some decent fish but they haven’t been biting their heads off. Snapper seem to be in all depths at the moment, from off the rocks through to 60-80m of water. There have been some cuttlefish around and the snapper have been chewing on them in close, and the boys that fish off the land have been getting some good ones up to 4kg. Boat-based anglers fishing the inshore reefs have been getting catches of 5-20 per boat if they find the schools.
We can expect those spring snapper schools to be out in the deeper water from October to November, and people will stop fishing from them from the rocks. Last year there was a shore-based snapper bite right through summer, which traditionally doesn’t happen, and we’ll hopefully get a repeat of that this year. Most land-based anglers think that species like snapper, drummer and whiting can only be caught at specific times of year, but a few anglers are cracking the codes to catch these species at other times.
Snapper off the rocks are best targeted with very fresh squid, whole octopus and octopus tentacles. If you prefer to use plastics, you can’t go past Gulp Jerkshads in BBQ chicken and pearl white, rigged on a 1/4oz jighead with a 3/0-5/0 hook.
At the moment there are good schools of flathead in all the usual spots. Inshore boat anglers have been catching plenty.
With kingfish it’s a different story. Although there have been some catches of them, locals are being tight-lipped. The action should improve as spring progresses. This is when we see a real push of all the new bait coming back into the system, which usually brings big schools of small and medium kingfish. It’s a beautiful time of year, with the bait pushing down from the north with the currents, the mutton birds flying above, and the whales migrating south.
Lately a few of the boys have been heading out late in the afternoon and evening chasing sharks. There’s never a shortage of sharks, but few of them are makos. If you’re hell bent on catching a big 70-80kg mako, your best bet is to go out to the shelf. When fishing from the shore, you’ll most often catch bronze whalers, seven-gillers and the odd gummy shark. Just remember that there are restrictions on catching school sharks and bronze whalers in marine park zones.
On the beaches we’re seeing a steady run of salmon and tailor. Although it’s traditional to fish with a pilly on a paternoster, you can have a lot of fun luring for these fish. We love spinning for salmon with 9-10ft light but strong graphite rods, with high quality Japanese lures. We use metal stickbaits by brands such as Palms and Bassday, as they look great in the water and swim better than cheaper metals.
Anglers have been getting n some plenty of bream off the beach through the winter months and early spring. I recommend using very light, thin leader with a very small hook. The best baits are worms, pipis and even crabs at the end of the beach.
The estuary fishing has been great; the estuary never really disappointed through the colder months. We had a good run of 40-50cm flathead through the cooler months, although it’s now starting to ease off a bit. One lure that has been working particularly well has been the Squidgy Fish in 80-100mm, in the black/gold colour. Because of the current in the Clyde, everyone has been looking for heavier jigheads. We ended up ordering in 3/8oz jigheads on fine gauge, 3/0 hooks. Going heavy on a thin hook turned out to be the key to success.
When using larger presentations for flathead, a few lucky anglers woke up a sleeping mulloway. These fish are quite a test on lighter gear.
Another standout species through the cooler months and spring has been the estuary perch. Most catches have been coming from Big Island to the Batemans Bay Bridge.
There have been some good bream catches lately as well. With the water being unseasonably warm in the estuary, the bream are already taking lures off the surface; usually it’s not until the end of November and December that you get them throwing surface lures around the racks. My friend Mick Ingram recently had an awesome weekend of fishing the surface bite with OSP Bent Minnows. It looks like we’re set for a great summer.
When it comes to crabs, it’s hard to predict what will happen. We didn’t see many blue swimmers this year until the water cleared and started to cool down. We’re now stocking the new Hayes Pro trap with an improved design, if you’re in the market for new pots.
Finally, bass are starting to become a word on anglers’ lips, and it won’t be to long before people will start be targeting them. More on that next month!Reads: 1955