For me this month is all about kingfish and there are healthy numbers haunting all of the popular reefs and rock ledges. This time last year I was tangling with some big fish and this season is already following that theme.
So far we have had encounters with seven 20kg-plus hoodlums but all have been lost. Two of those busted 70kg leader after long battles (at least in terms of kingfish!) and another left my mate Peter Alkousis with a burn on his thumb that looked like it came from a barbecue plate!
I am constantly astounded by the power of big kings. The two fish that broke the leader were tricked by free-spool tactics and when I thought I had the better of them at the gaff, they emptied line set so tight I struggled to pull it off the reel and severed the trace in the depths. Another round of free-spool probably would have won both these fish.
There's been a steady procession of rat kings to 4kg off Burrie Point but at the time of writing I have not heard of anyone even losing any big fish there despite the sightings of some big ones following hooked salmon.
The Moruya reefs have been experiencing similar action but I haven't heard any reports from the Tollgates or Durras reefs, but I am sure they will be there.
Snapper continue to show on the deeper grounds with fish to 5kg being caught. I also have heard of a number of anglers scoring multiple fish up to 4kg off the Durras rocks so you should also be able to find a few reds on the shallower grounds.
Remember, stealth is the key to fooling shallow-water reds. Clanging anchor chains and punching a berley pot are sure ways to catch diddly squat.
The game fish scene should be reaching its peak later in the month with striped marlin hopefully dominating the warm currents and reports of good numbers of black marlin further north all the incentive that you need to have a go.
And don't think you need a big boat to find black marlin. I once hooked a 70kg black in 40 metres east of the Tollgates. I have seen two fish hooked from the front wash at Jimmys Island and sighted several marlin off the rocks either side of the Bay.
Back in the 1999/2000 Summer an angler drifting off Maloneys Beach with live poddy mullet for flathead even hooked a small black and other marlin that year were seen hounding the slimies at the Snapper Island bait grounds.
For inshore marlin I wouldn't troll lures but would opt for slowly trolling live slimy mackerel, particularly if you can find a school of bait on the surface.
Divers report some schools of big bonito, which is encouraging because these fish have been quite scarce for a few years. We have had a few big live slimies come back dead and covered in fine teeth marks undoubtedly from bonito but as yet none has been hooked on metal lures.
I expect frigate mackerel to be on the go this month, too, which makes an even better slow-troll bait but make sure you know how to bridle rig them for best results.
On the beaches tailor numbers should be nearing their peak and some fish should top 2kg. It comes as no surprise that tailor stocks are on the improve now the commercial sector has tighter restraints placed on it.
Big sand whiting will be a sure thing this month and I plan to get the kids into ’em when I take a few weeks off. The whole worming and whiting off the sand thing is a great family day but educating the kids to tread softly and not run in stomping their feet while Dad tries to fool the worms is testing on the nerves. Getting up bright and early and getting the bait without the kids is often a smarter approach.
I have heard that salmon schools have been more prevalent around Island washes than the beaches at the moment but that situation can change overnight. I have heard very little about mulloway but successful anglers rarely reveal anything so the only way to find out if they are biting is get out and have a go. But with so many other fish on offer I don't start fishing for these until the chill of Winter starts.
I have not had a chance to give the bass a go this year yet but from all reports it has turned out to be a bumper season with plenty of big ones being released. Cicadas are still screeching their heads off each evening so surface fishing would be my preference but deep spinnerbaits and plastics rigged on blade-equipped jig heads would probably account for more hook-ups.
The ABT BREAM circuit will visit the Clyde River on February 18 and 19 and if you wish to join the action, entries close on February 10 so be quick.
I have taken part in all three of the Clyde rounds in previous years by and have enjoyed the experience.
The fishing is always testing and with around 70 boats in the field, the fish are not easily fooled. To place in the top 10 requires a really good understanding of the bream's many moods, coupled with a very strong mental attitude.
Focusing on each and every retrieve during a seven-hour session is something few people can do well. Breaming for that long literally gives me a headache but I still enjoy the challenge of fooling these fish and setting myself a game plan. Sticking to it is another matter, though!
The Clyde can be a really tough fishery at times and during a recent trip with ‘Captain’ Kevin Gleed proved this. The results for around four hours of fishing were one good bream each and, what's worse, we were the only boat on the water all day.
Kev's up there with the best breamers in the country and has been doing it longer than anyone I know, so it makes you wonder how you go about formulating a plan to find five willing fish when there are more than 60 other boats seeking the same fish!
We saw several big bream cruising around during that session as well as plenty of smaller fish but bites were few and far between. Admittedly we would have tried a wider range of locations and techniques had it been in a comp rather than this laid-back session.
My fish took a surface plastic and Kev's took a longtail minnow rigged on the new Bass Master resin head. The funny thing about the Clyde is you could rock up the next day and do the same things in the same spots and smack a dozen good ones without even trying.
Kevin runs Wilderness Fishing Tours, which was the first of its kind on the coast. Newcomers to estuary luring wanting to fast-track their knowledge will find a chartered trip with Kev will reveal a wealth of knowledge for anyone aspiring to be the next Tim Morgan or Chris Wright.
You will learn a heap of tricks and tactics to catch bream, flathead, jewfish, estuary perch, bass or a host of other species. For more information check out www.wildernessfishingtours.com.
There is still the odd jewfish showing up in the Clyde River. These 5kg and 6kg models were caught on 4" Storm Shads and were both released.
February is big bream time and competitors in the ABT BREAM tournament will be eagerly seeking ones like this 40cm plus Flickbait-eater.
The water is warm and the flathead are hungry so get out and have a go. Dimitri Petridis displays a fine Tuross specimen taken on a small plastic aimed at tree snag bream.Reads: 1612