Keeping things interesting
  |  First Published: November 2016

This time last year we were in full gamefishing mode, with striped marlin being caught all along the coast. Multiple hook-ups and several fish for the day were commonplace, and they weren’t as far out as stripes go, with many caught inside the 50 fathom line.

That was last year. Usually we see a few stripes show up on the shelf this month, but November can be strange as the currents are all over the place. Warm water pushes into cold and anything can happen. A few years back it was yellowfin tuna that were everywhere, but that’s not so uncommon as history shows they often arrive in November in good numbers. It’s all in the lap of the currents and the weather, so we shall see what happens this year. Warm water is already on track to make an early appearance.

With the prospect of striped marlin and yellowfin tuna, it should be worth a look out wide. A few stripes have been hooked, and some small to average fin up to 30kg as well, but they’re patchy so far with a lot of hours put in for nothing by many boats. That can all change in 24 hours. Big mahimahi at 15-20kg usually show up on the first of the warm water that pushes through at this time of the year, and they could well be on the cards, seeing as we still had them around in August this year.

A few albacore are still about, so there’s the chance of some light tackle fun and there are plenty of striped tuna around for bait and berley, and the usual mako and blue sharks. Usually the current is not pouring down the coast yet so dropping to the bottom is still a good option on a quiet day. The gemfish have slowed down, but there are still plenty of nice trevalla about on the drops and walls around the canyons.

In closer it’s the time when the yellowtail kings gather over the inshore reefs to make more kings, so places like Bandit, the Hump and Wollongong Reef are the spots to be. If you really want to get into some big fish, try the Banks further south. Not my report area but still the place to be for big kings at this time of the year.

When you see them on the sounder, drop knife jigs and livebaits down to them. Alternatively you can slow troll downrigged live baits while watching the sounder to mark the fish. Squid are deadly when used like this but I prefer to eat the squid myself than feed them to kings. Fish up to 20kg are about but the majority of fish will be under 10kg – still good fun. The islands, Bass Point in close and down around Rangoon will throw up a few in the early mornings as well.

Keep the live baits big for the best results in around the closer spots as there are so many salmon about the smaller live baits will be knocked over in no time or just bashed up. For the most part the salmon will be feeding on the multitude of tiny baitfish moving down the coast, but they don’t mind an easy feed of small mackerel or yellowtail. If the kings are slow, they’re a good fun alternative and they’re just about everywhere along the coast, often rippling the surface as they feed with or without the hordes of seagulls giving away their presence. Small lures cast in among the schools is the best way to catch them, as trolling through them just puts them down deep and off the bite.

Plenty of silver trevally will be moving with and under the salmon, so let the lures sink a bit before the retrieve to get a bit of variety going. Snapper will be under the schools, so bigger plastics worked deep could be rewarding and even if you’re chasing the sambos, often big kings are too so putting a big live bait out while chasing the other fish should cover all the bases.

Snapper are not only under the salmon, but have been quite prevalent over the deeper reefs and gravel during the past few weeks. If the current is not too strong, they’ll respond well to berley and baits, particularly if you can get a few striped tuna for bait. Working plastics is so damn effective that baitfishing for reds seems to be a dying art, and they have been responding to plastics too. You have the options.

The bottom bouncers are getting a few nice reds drifting along with baits down deep, as well as lots of pigfish and mowies. The big mover is the flathead that usually get going this month when the small baitfish arrive. They’re over every patch of sand at the moment, from just behind the beaches to the deeper sand in 50m. Most are good sandies to 60cm.

On the beaches things are starting to heat up with whiting as the main target for most. The beaches around the lake entrance are still the best, but now they’re showing up on just about every beach along the coast. As usual, the only bait for consistent catches is beach worms. There are plenty on the beaches at the moment, but that will soon change as the pro wormers put the cutter through them.

Flathead have really picked up on the beaches too, but have mostly been by-catch to whiting fishos and the casual anglers fishing for whatever takes their pilchard. A concentrated effort with plastics on any beach should throw up a few nice fish. As always, salmon will get in on the whiting action when worms are used. They’ll grab just about anything and they’re on most beaches as well.

School mulloway have increased in numbers over the past few weeks with the usual beaches producing a few fish, but you still have to work for them. No big fish heard of as yet, but they won’t be too far away as they move out of the estuaries to our north and south and move along the coast. Some solid tailor are on the southern beaches, but they’re a bit hit and miss; probably a school moving around the area.

In the estuaries, it’s all systems go this month with the flathead in full swing, particularly during the darks at the beginning and end of the month when the prawns are moving. The main channel and the drop-off will be the best spots. They’ll be all over the place by the end of the month, so you can get away from the crowd and still get a few.

With the prawns moving, now’s the time to get the poppers out and have a bit of fun working the flats for whiting. As always, weekdays and early mornings work the best when it’s quiet but any time is worth a go. Worms will get more whiting, so the sand flats around the entrance to the lake and Minnamurra will be well populated with anglers. Some big luderick will be moving through the systems and they’ll pick up on the worms too this month. Don’t be surprised when that big fish screams off on the whiting gear.

Bream are on the move too. Live prawns fished unweighted down around the bridge pylons will hook some big bream, and the same tactic will work well in the snags in the feeder streams to the lake as well. It’s worth a look for the odd mulloway in the lake channel during the evenings, but you really must get lucky to score them.

The mine fields will be set up all through the lake from now on, and for the rest of summer as the blue swimmers get a move on too. Always keep a good lookout for the floats as it’s impossible to travel anywhere in the lake in a straight line and not get one tangled around the prop.


A couple of average size kings from around the islands. Live slimies did the trick.


Solid striped marlin like this fella are about at the moment. Hopefully it will get as good as last year.


There are a few small jellybean yellowfin mixing it with the striped tuna to keep things interesting.

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