I have just arrived home from two weeks fishing in NSW fishing Port Stephens and South West Rocks. We missed the marlin at SWR but we more than made up for it at Port Stephens, catching 14 marlin over the period of the week. The mixture of black and striped marlin kept us busy, with fish averaging around the 100kg mark.
One thing I learnt from the small boat fraternity in NSW is that these blokes aren’t afraid to venture out to sea on rough days. They travel the NSW coastline with their trailer boats in tow, chasing marlin along the coast and have surprising results. Some of these small boat anglers caught some monster blue marlin in some surprisingly rough conditions. I don’t condone taking risks but it seemed these guys knew their capabilities.
On the subject of small boats, I recently got the opportunity to fish with charter operator from Mooloolaba, Andrew Yeh in his new 6m Kevlacat. I’m not a fan of cats much these days but this boat is the ultimate in soft riding trailer boats, so if you’re serious about upgrading your boat don’t forget to check out these beauties. We had a great day.
Last month, I mentioned that I had bought the Gin Gin Hotel at Gin Gin, 46km east of Bundaberg on the Bruce Highway. We still will be running game and reef fishing trips plus guided barra tours, and as a special offer to QFM readers who come to fish with us or bring their own boats, you get half price accommodation if you bring the latest edition of QFM with you. It makes for a cheap weekend at Monduran Dam!
Offshore this year has been really tough. The billfish have been wary, not attacking baits and lures as aggressively as we’ve been used to in the past. This has been evident all along the Queensland coast, with the Sunny Coasts and the Gold Coast also being very quiet.
The popular opinion is that the warmer water temperatures have affected their metabolism; if cold water can cause them to shut down, locals say, surely too-warm water can too? I don’t know if this stacks up with scientific research but it sounds like a fair interpretation.
Big fish tend to haunt the area we fish at the northern end of Fraser Island but this is mainly due to the inaccessibility of the place to the average angler. Monster GTs can be caught on the reefs at this time of year with large poppers. Alternatively, if you’re pretty fit and don’t mind a bit of jigging, the monster amberjacks etc. will bring you to your knees. Reef fishing is exceptional as this is the place where the big red fish live – quality red emperor and snapper.
At this time of year our waters also hold some massive Spanish mackerel that haunt the reefs. We also love to livebait the wreck sites around this time, catching big cobia, marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi (dolphinfish), yellowtail kingfish and sharks – the biggest you have seen.
The Bundaberg area really can turn it on fishing into the winter months.
At Monduran Dam this year the fishing has been at its best. Many anglers are still trolling for these fish in the middle of the dam but for most purists you can’t beat the feeling of being smashed by a huge barra whilst casting amongst the snags.
I love this place and often fish at the dam when bad weather inhibits our reef and game fishing. The lures to use are Tropic Angler Floaters, B52s, RMGs and the like.
The late mail on barra fishing is Awoonga Dam is fishing better than Monduran and is close enough to enjoy a day at both dams. The best time to fish the dam is on the full moon. I used to be sceptical about this but I have found that it definitely does fish better.
The most popular spot is Bass Strait, which has a very steep ledge that the barra love to feed on.
I personally love to fish the water at the top of the dam, you avoid the crowds and the water is a lot cleaner plus we always seem to catch fish.
So if you’re up our way pop in and see us at the Gin Gin Hotel.
1) Kevin Chateris with a big sailfish he caught while reef fishing.
2) The author with a Monduran Dam barra.
3) Dave Woolard with one of the smaller fish caught during a week at Monduran.Reads: 840