We live in hope!
  |  First Published: April 2017

Hands up who wants to cancel this Coffs Harbour game fishing season and start afresh in a few months’ time? Ok then, motioned carried unanimously. Hmm.

Well it’s more of the same here, worse luck. There have been more weather windows in the past month than in the past four combined, but the motivation to get out there and have a look is low and the game fishing scene in general has a very ho-hum feel about it. You can only do so many miles and burn through so many litres of fuel before the penny drops that it’s largely a waste of time.

Blue marlin remain the target out wide, with the water on the shelf edge being less than fantastic, which has produced the odd striped marlin hook-up. At this time of year we’d expect to have a couple of blue bites each day, but the crews that have put in the hard yards over the edge have only been encountering ones and nones, which is extremely frustrating.

And as for the inshore blacks, well, they’ve gone the way of the dodo it seems…

After last year’s spectacular wahoo season, Dr Hoo has been practically non-existent this time round, with only the very occasional one caught. Ditto for that other summer standby, the mahimahi. The FAD, the waver recorder buoy and sundry trap floats in 40-60 fathoms have been holding fish, but they’re nearly all rats, with very few keepers amongst them. The only decent ones have mostly been blind strikes while targeting marlin with lures, and even then they’re few and far between.

There’s a couple of jellybean yellowfin tuna lurking at the light, and Mark Mikkelsen got one over 20kg at the start of March, which was a pleasant bit of by-catch.

The good news has been on the mackerel front. After a slowish start — by the standard of recent years where they’ve come on the chew in early summer — the bite has been pretty steady. There’s been some impressive Spanish about, with fish from 15-20kg not raising too many eyebrows. Spotties have been reasonably consistent, and of a good average size, even if they do have trouble finding the hooks in the bigger slimies.

In some instances the 38 and 44lb single strand wire most commonly used has been insufficient to prevent bite-offs. If it’s not a numbers game and a trophy bar-ee is the goal, heavier wire, even light multistrand, will produce fewer bites, but it may keep you connected to that long dreamed of 50 pounder. Setting a trap for a big fish includes fishing bigger baits such as live bonito or mac tuna, either caught in situ or kept alive in tuna tubes.

The water remains pretty ordinary inshore, but the mackerel are in it, and bait remains pretty easy to come by most mornings.

There’s been the usual rumours about ciguatera-infected fish, but unless they’re properly tested, people getting sick could easily be the result of poor handling practices post capture — especially when the fish is too big to fit in the average icebox.

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