A royally good season for kingfish
  |  First Published: February 2017

We’re almost back to normal! The last of the Christmas holidaymakers have gone for another year, and you’ll have your own little secret spots to yourselves once again.

In spite of the hassle of the holiday crowds though, it’s great to see so many people sharing our waters and catching fish. Working in the tackle shop, it’s refreshing to see the same people year in and year out travelling to our area for their annual pilgrimage, and new people becoming Christmas holiday regulars. We must be doing something right and it’s a pretty good time of year to fish our waters.

Although February is quieter, bear in mind that it can still be quite busy on the weekends. If you can chuck a sickie on a weekday or get that rostered day off, it’s fairly tame on the water.

What would you like to catch? Bream, bass, squid, flathead? Maybe you have your sights set higher, say, for marlin, mahimahi and kingfish; these species are definitely high on many anglers’ lists at this time of year. The marlin at the banks started early this season with a few taken in late December. They actually showed up before the first run of stripes.

The kingfish have been around since about the end of November and have been good right through the summer months. The average size has been up just a little from previous years and the consistency of fish has been much better than the last few seasons. Early morning sessions have seen fish taken on stickbaits and poppers while the sleeper-innerers have been getting fish downrigging during the day, or lead lining and drifting with live or fresh squid.

There have been plenty of rat kings inside Jervis Bay to give anglers a bit of fun on the light tackle. The occasional bigger fish smashes through the schools making short work of the light tackle, and claiming their trophy in the way of your lure.

The squidding has been nothing short of sensational right through the school holidays. Although the average size is down on the squid, the quantity makes up for it. Anglers get their bag limit in quick time. It’s not often you can throw any jig in your box at the squid and have success, as they can usually be fussy cephalopods. I’ve still heard about a few occasions of them taking anything.

If you are for some reason finding it tough to catch squid, here are three jigs that are must-haves for the box: the Yamashita Aurie-Q in the natural green colour, the Yamashita Live series with the clicker in the yakka and pilly colours, and the Daiwa Emeraldas in the green seaweed colour. All of these are in size 3.0. If you can’t catch squid on one of these jigs, you might as well go to Nowra Fresh and put in your order! Don’t forget to coat your jig with S Factor scent.

It’s been a pretty good season for our bread and butter species in all the estuaries! Bream, flathead and whiting can all be caught in the shallows and can be seen chasing prawns and small baitfish, sometimes in water hardly deep enough for themselves to be in. This often occurs on early mornings before the sun breaks the horizon, and a long cast with a surface lure or ultra-shallow diver should produce a strike.

Wading the shallow flats of the basin and flicking lures is still one of my favourite fishing pastimes and a very productive way of catching fish. You don’t need a boat to catch good fish down there! My only advice is, wear a pair of waders. Hooked fish have a nasty habit of running for any sort of structure they can find and your legs fit that bill. A hole in the waders is pretty easy to fix and a lot less painful than a big bream or flatty hanging off your leg, thrashing around with the hook barbs buried in your flesh. Yes, I have seen this happen!

If you haven’t had your bass fix this season, don’t worry – you haven’t missed out. Believe it or not, there are still plenty of fish in the brackish water as low down as the animal park, and they are scattered right through up to Gradys. The public canoe/kayak ramp on the southern side of the river near Calmea is a great spot to launch an assault on the bass in the early morning or late arvo, when the river traffic quietens down. Mid-week’s not too bad. This puts you straight into some good water and is perfect for a quick two-hour session. The freshwater reaches of the Shoalhaven are also fishing well, with plenty of 35-40cm fish being taken. Coolendel puts you straight into some good water here, and if you don’t mind dragging up rapids, you can fish some awesome water upstream from there that has less pressure.

Best of luck fishing in February, guys and gals. Don’t forget Valentine’s Day, 14 Feb. Why not buy your love a new fishing rod? You might get to go out more. Johnny out.

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