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Head out for a billfish
  |  First Published: February 2006



There is no better opportunity than now to catch your first marlin.

There are a number of indicators of what calibre of game fishing season you can expect. The first can be when the warmer northern currents will trickle south to our coastal waters and bring with them all the fun pelagic baitfish such as bonito, striped tuna, frigate and slimy mackerel, along with the ever-favourite mahi mahi.

And, of course, where there are smaller fish the bigger fish such as marlin, yellowfin tuna and wahoo will follow. This first indicator is easy to monitor as there are many websites that illustrate by colour the sea surface temperatures and their approximate locations.

The second and most exciting indicator is word of mouth from fishos who have been out there and can report on the conditions and catches, or from local tackle shop staff who keep their ears and eyes open. Many of us will keep tabs on what is being caught further north at the likes of South West Rocks and Port Macquarie.

This year those locations have been living up to expectations with the warmer water holding plenty of small black marlin, kingfish and cobia, to name just a few.

In turn, the Hunter coast has hotted up. All the signs are there for a repeat performance of 1998, when there was an abundance of marlin caught in close and many anglers caught their first marlin from boats as small as 4.5m tinnies.

It doesn’t take much to get geared up for a small-boat marlin trip. A 4.5m aluminium runabout with a reliable outboard is a start, coupled with some medium-sized, robust rods and reels such as Shimano TLD25s or similar spooled, with a minimum of 600m of 15kg line.

Small skirted lures will do the trick as most 50kg to 70kg marlin prefer these. Don’t forget to invest in a teaser such as the Pakula Witchdoctor to attract the fish. A surface-splashing bird teaser can also be used to add to the attraction.

The best part about this type of fishing is that we know that the fish have been caught in close and that we need to target the depths of only 40 to 70 fathoms. Look for the schools of baitfish on your sounder and work the area with your lures.

The turn of the tide can be more productive than other times.

LAKE AT ITS BEST

Many people who fished the lake to the end of January were rewarded with some outstanding catches.

Plenty of bream, flathead and whiting that the lake is so famous for were caught. Fishing in February will get even better as the numbers of people will drop off and allow better access to the hot spots and the fish will be there.

Areas like Swansea Channel, Swan Bay and Salts Bay were hit pretty hard but have held up well. The falling tides will prove to be most productive when targeting these species in these spots. Fresh chicken fillet for the bream has been quite effective.

Blacksmiths breakwall on the channel side should not be discounted when chasing whiting. Some people have had success with fine strips of squid for whiting, believe it or not.

Flathead stocks have obviously returned and boaters have been picking up pleasing catches drifting with the current.

Fisheries inspectors have been targeting the owners of witch’s-hat crab nets who have not labelled them correctly or who have left them unattended at night. Check the regulations or you may lose your gear.

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