Fishing with the family
  |  First Published: October 2006

When I’m not away at tournaments I like to take the family fishing. This month I will outline a typical ‘day on the bay’ that anyone with a family and boat can experience.

I take my family to calm locations that have good populations of sea life to keep the young ones interested (my kids are two and three). Most spare weekends are spent exploring the shallows around one of smaller islands catching crabs, squid, bream and whiting or watching the amazing numbers of turtles and dolphins that inhabit the shallows in search of food.

Mud, St Helena and Green islands are all great places to take the family fishing and crabbing. Depending on the wind direction these islands can provide great boating in the shallows on the lee side of the island.

Typical fishing days start before dawn with one super active two year old son and two tired ladies who wanted more sleep driving to the ramp. Once everything is loaded into the boat we generally hit the water around daylight or just after to get the best possible fishing and crabbing action. It’s an early start but this is generally before the wind gets up and there is always plenty of surface action in the shallows.

Once the crab pots are set we move into the shallows for a quick fish before breakfast. Surface poppers and small hard-bodied lures are the go in the shallows early in the morning. Anything from tailor, bream, snapper, sweetlip, pike and squid will feed high in the water column first up in the morning and will take a well presented lure.

Once the sun is up and the bottom becomes more visible we have a quick cook-up on the portable BBQ. Most boats in the vicinity become quite envious of the smell of caramelising onions, bacon, sausages and eggs. Then the fun really begins.

By this stage the kids have normally already spotted dolphins and turtles. We throw a bit of bread in the water during breakfast to bring hundreds of gar, bream and small baitfish to surface. Anything to keep the young ones amused.

After that we head off to check the crab pots to see what’s inside. Sand crabs are plentiful around the islands and the kids have a ball finding the next float and helping us pull the pots in. Once the pots are emptied and rebaited we move back into the shallows for some bream and squid action.

Squid move up and down with the tides feeding in the shallows around most bay islands. Squid jigs like Ecogear Flash and Dart Max in the 2.5” size fished in the shallows produce amazing quantities of the tasty delights. Most of the time I hook the squid and let the kids wind them. If there are large schools of squid around the kids catch them easily. Usually we cast their lines towards the school for them with the squid jig suspended under a small red and white bobby float and let them slowly retrieve the jig.

Bream inhabit the shallows around the bay islands in large numbers, these shallow mangrove lined islands hold a stable food source for bream (crabs, prawns and small baitfish) and can be caught year round. Again, I hook most of the bream and let the kids take turns winding them in. Small hard-bodied lures like the Ecogear CK40F7, CK50O3 and the popular SX40 are all great lures for working the shallows.

After a few more checks of the pots and some fishing and it’s usually time to head home to clean the catch, wash the boat and, as the kids like to call it, have “Dad’s little kindy nap”.

If anyone is looking for something to do with the family, then gather up the crabbing gear, grab a handful of small squid jigs, floats, small hard-bodied lures, some food and drinks, chose one of the islands, mix them together and enjoy.

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