Summer is here and the fishing is hot! All the elements are in place, from a great beginning on the bass to a strong and steady start on the prawns. The water is a bit clearer this year and the blue swimmer crabs that eluded us last summer are on, and the mud crabs are also on the go. The estuary and lakes are firing, and the beaches are alive with whiting. The boats are also finding the snapper and kingies are on in some areas.
Offshore this summer the marlin are expected to be on fire like the previous two years. We are glad to see the ‘super trawler’ away from our shores at this stage, and we hope it never returns – although these days you just never know what the government will do. Gone are the days of democracy, common sense and doing the right thing! These days it’s all about the dollar, so our expectations aren’t high. Still, for now we have an abundance of bait for our predatory fish visiting the area, and this season should be red hot going on the fishing up north, and the bait already present.
The water is at a good temperature now, and we have already had a couple of marlin caught in the area. By the time you are reading this hopefully I’m out there connected to one! We can expect the usual run of striped marlin, with some blacks and blues thrown in.
The traditional method of dragging skirts is still popular, and the switch bait method is still growing, but one thing both methods share is a good teaser. Many companies are now making teasers with the holographic fish. These teasers are the best, and the strips of fish connected to the stainless steel arms can consist of 50 to 150 fish. It looks like an actual bait ball being dragged behind your boat, and it’s so lifelike that even the birds dive at it. With these holographic teasers you can present a very natural scenario where a baitfish is injured from a slashing marlin bill and drops back from the bait ball to be eaten. You can do this by running a skip bait or live bait a couple of meters or more behind the teaser that looks like a bait ball. This scene looks real and tempting for any marlin nearby, and has a very high success rate. We have these teasers in store if you’re interested in checking them out.
Another fish on the cards out wide this summer is mahimahi. They have been thick the last two summers, and we are hoping they will be all over our FADs and buoys this January.
We had a great tuna run through winter and some albacore and small yellowfin coming into summer, with one nice bluefin being caught by Zoe O’Conner amongst the albacore. With the way the species have been mixing over the seasons, the last couple of years it would be good to see the possibility of tuna catches throughout January like we used to 20 years ago.
Inshore boating can get tough on the reef over summer if you are just going out and dropping a line. Summer fishing is often inconsistent; one day you’ll have a fantastic trip, and the next will be an absolute shocker. Winter is more stable with both the weather and fishing. In summer, the wind jumps up and down and so does the fishing. Some days you can go out reef fishing and park on top of the snapper, catch some flatties, have a mako swim up to the boat, a marlin even and then troll up a big kingfish. Then the next day you can go out and catch sweep, then get bitten off by leatherjackets and go home empty handed.
In January it really pays to move around and watch your sounder and the signs on the water around you. That way you can adjust to each situation. I start out by catching live bait, then I may troll some headlands, reefs or bommies and watch that sounder. When I see good signs on the sounder I stop to target the fish. In the rocket launcher I put a 7’4” to a 7’6” medium heavy rod rigged with a 60g metal to cast at surface fish. Next to that I have a jig stick with a heavy reel rigged with a shark rig ready for a shark. Next to that I have a heavy live bait rig ready for large pelagics (that rig can also double as a jigging outfit). If you don’t have the money or space you can always be smart and use one set up to do two or three jobs. For example, you can attach a diver to your live bait/jig outfit and troll with it.
It’s good to have all these rigs ready so you can switch quickly to any situation for any given moment. I find this gives you the edge for when you want to adjust to fishing through summer. The hotter months tend to be tough at times with a lot of exciting and different events that occur throughout this period.
On the beaches we have seen the salmon fishing in general slow down, and the whiting are making their way onto our beaches. Some 40cm whiting have already been caught, and it’s looking like there is no shortage of them. Everybody loves whiting, and the Sugapen lures in the new colours are running out the door of our shop. When it comes to plastics, the best I have found are the Marukyu worms in the red and sand colours.
The estuary is doing what we expect for this time of the year, and one of the standout species so far this summer is the good ol’ flattie. The flathead is the bread-and-butter species of the area. We are experiencing a solid run of them in the Clyde, and springtime going into summer saw some massive females caught. We can expect a good run of these guys throughout the summer.
Bream are worth chasing, and with the amount of bait pushing through the system right up past Nelligen we are seeing a good number of mulloway being caught also. The last couple of summers have seen a lot of rain that kept the best of the fishing up the front of the estuary. However, this summer there has been a little disruption and the Clyde is turning on good fishing right through the system. Perch are in good numbers from Nelligen upwards, and further upstream we are seeing another standout for the summer and that is the bass. The most popular lures lately have been 1/8oz AusSpin Minispin spinnerbaits in the black and purple colours.
Summer is definitely not letting us down fish-wise. With a solid run of prawns and crabs as well, I think every man, woman and even Charlie may catch his marlin, and we will have a cracking summer this year.
• 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).Reads: 687