Expectations are high but you must work hard
  |  First Published: February 2017

Expectations are always high during the summer months. It’s that time of the year where the sun is shining, you’ve got days off work, there’s loads of bait and warm blue currents pour down the coast. You think everything is just going to fall into place. The truth is, it’s just as hard as other seasons. Sure it’s a great time of the year and it feels great catching a kingie, dollie (mahimahi) or marlin in the basking sun and having the chance of a variety of species on the menu. That doesn’t make it easy.

You still have to work for them and they don’t just jump onto the hook. They do, actually, but you have to make sure you have a hook there. Like the saying goes, you won’t catch fish from your lounge. That’s been the case so far. January wasn’t as hot as the previous two years offshore and we saw a couple of big blue marlin caught, and some big mahimahi to make it worth going out for a look.

There were a few striped marlin starting to push down as the month moved on. The currents started to push down some good blue water with temperatures reaching 24°C, so it’s making for a great February. It will be a good season, just a little later than the last two years. Once the current races down with lots of nutrients, bait and predators, it would be ideal for it to ease a little, so all the action settles off our beautiful south coast. Hopefully by February and March we see a zoo of pelagic activity.

The Batemans Bay Game Fishing Club holds the Tollgate Classic towards the end of January and should coincide with a reasonable marlin bite. This is a great indicator of what’s out there by this stage. The club has a new and vibrant committee and we should see this event go from strength to strength over the coming years. It is a real iconic event that should be on every gamefisher’s radar. Committee member Eric Logie on FNB tagged the first marlin for the season off the bay with an estimated 170kg blue. We expect to see many more from this crew over summer.

January was a bit of hard work. You had to be out there to yield any result. This month, your fuel bill should be well worth it and the stripes will be in town. The mahimahi look to be off to a reasonable start and every time Billy Sheffield hit the water, he seemed to find the big ones. Billy ‘Dolphin Fish’ Sheffield seems to whisper these guys to the boat. Another good idea is to visit any kind of bouy, fish or cray trap float and FAD, as you’ll see most dollies caught from these forms of structure.

The mahimahi should be with us all summer by the looks of it. One fish that is hard to put a finger on and we always have high expectations for are the kingfish. Jervis Bay started well in spring with some crackers and now Montague Island has a nice run, which is great to see. Around the Batemans area, we’re seeing schools swimming through and not holding hard anywhere.

This is definitely one fish we have to work hard for. They could be off Wasp Island, hugging yellow rock, near Black Rock or off Burri. The main spots they hold other than sanctuary zones are Broulee and Moruya and even those have been faint possibilities. This summer and autumn, please kingies, come stay as long as you like. For now we have to roll the dice and check all the possible locations as we go out for a snapper fish.

Reef fishing is always tough through January and February. It slowly improves with more chances of anything happening from a kingie bust-up to a shark encounter, or maybe even a black marlin while reef fishing. It’s always worth a trip out on the reef through February, because you just don’t know what strange new northern species you may encounter. You may see a sunfish drunkenly swim by. That’s what’s great about February. The currents are well and truly demonstrating a change of season with what can be encountered.

If you’re sick and tired of chancing kingies, waiting for snapper to kick back in or you don’t care for a sunfish, you can always rely on a good catch of bluespot flathead, which will make the cook at home a happy human. Out of the boat and on the rocks and beaches, you are always in for plenty of action through summer. The elusive kings were very elusive last summer for rock fishers and snapper bit their heads off.

This summer will continue to see some good snapper caught from the stones. I have a feeling this year, the kingies may make more of an appearance than last. The spearos are already seeing good numbers in close and let’s hope this continues. The beaches have been alive with whiting since spring and coming into February this run has built. It is a very good month to target this species.

As usual worms and nippers are the best for these guys off our beaches. Local beaches have seen a steady run of beach worms as well. In the lakes and estuaries, poppers and surface lures are working as always. The beaches have had no shortage of salmon. By night, there are plenty of sharks and mulloway. The shark numbers seem to be bigger than ever and we are having more and more beaches closed due to the consistency of their presence.

Pne the main events of summer is the estuary and it has not disappointed. Flatties, bream, estuary perch, whiting, mud crabs, blue swimmers, prawns and bass all on fire. The Clyde River is fishing very well with good water from the front to Nelligen and beyond. You pretty much just have to follow your instincts and you can’t go wrong. Look for structure and bait. Choose the right offering and you are in for a chance.

Among the usual river suspects like bream at racks or whiting on sand flats, there has been a solid run of estuary perch, which will take all kinds of suspending minnows or surface lures. The estuary has been a little easier than outside. You still have to put in the hours and be there when the bite is hot. The prawns may have settled a little, but there are still kilos per person being plucked out some nights. This should continue all summer.

With the water clearer this summer, blue swimmers are still a good option and mud crabs in most systems and lakes are also worth a try. Last but not least, the bass have been mental up the back. It sure shows in the shop when all bass lures are repeatedly being sold out. Now is the time to strike. Don’t just stand there – January was the building blocks and February is your castle! Get out there and be king!

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