The pelagic season so far has turned out to be a cracker. With water to 25, all the fast fish have been abundant.
Marlin numbers have been staggering some days, particularly if you stumble on one of the many bait balls along the shelf and the canyons. Baits have been anything from pilchards, garfish, slimies and sauries to some more odd fish that have been difficult to identify. Many crews have been averaging six to eight fish tagged off these bait balls as well as seeing other fish.
The bite has been a healthy mix of blacks and stripes to 130kg. Skip baits seem to be doing the most damage closely followed by live baits. Lures have not been nearly as successful but are still worth towing while seeking out the bait.
Kingfish have continued to dominate the inshore locales with some larger specimens to 15kg being caught. Most of the big fish have been winning over anglers easily, showing newcomers and seasoned campaigners who is boss.
Bonito and frigate mackerel numbers have been healthy but tempting them has proved testing. Usually these fish become less selective and start to feed on larger prey as the season progresses. This allows lure casters to throw slightly larger metals for greater success.
March is the spin man’s month around these parts and if the warm push continues, a few longtail or mack tuna may even show up.
Last March I’d just packed up and was heading home when a massive school of 50 or more longtails turned the surface to foam around 300m to 400m offshore. The fish were on a collision course with the point we were fishing, where mate Dave Norman still had a live yakka pulsing away under a balloon at the edge of the wash. Right on cue, an idiot in a boat proceeded to repeatedly drive at speed straight through the school. No troll lines, no spin rods at the ready, just a display of total stupidity.
The fish sounded briefly then resurfaced further out to sea depriving Dave a shot at his first LBG tuna. It’s no wonder rock fishos get annoyed with some boaters when scenes like that occur.
Some truly huge salmon over 4kg have been about in the washes along with some big tailor. The action on these two species will only improve over the coming months as the ocean temps begin to fall.
Decent gutters in the surf should also be turning on some salmon and tailor action with ganged pilchards being the easiest way to get amongst them. Beach worms are still your best bet for a good feed of whiting and bream. From all accounts there have been some thumpers off the Durras, Broulee and the Tuross beaches.
Due to a rekindled passion for LBG I have been completely out of touch with what has been happening in the estuaries. The Polycraft is a mess and looks like a tackle box or a rigging bench in the garage. However, the guys on the rivers inform me that the fishing is quite good. In particular the Moruya River has been turning on some fantastic bream spinning action with fish over 40cm.
It’s also a great time of year to target big whiting over the flats with beach worms or blood worms. Big whiting are explosive fish when caught in really shallow water and loads of fun too.
Jewfish talk has been non-existent of late but the fish will still be around, you just need to fish hard and get your plastic in the bottom third of the water column. Jewfish like to hang out around structure that has current pushing onto it so concentrate your efforts in spots that fit that criteria and success will eventually come.
With the Easter break just around the corner it’s time to start thinking about snapper fishing again. Once the water hits 19 or less I will be waging war on snapper solely with soft plastics. Last season we only scratched the surface of catching reds on softies at the tail end of the season. That brief couple of months uncovered a new and exciting sport fishery of big snapper eager to smash a well presented softie. It will be interesting to see the outcome of a full season of line-stripping knobbies. For the first time in my life I am itching for winter to come!
Until now I have been silent on the Batemans Marine Park issue due to lack of information. On January 24 a meeting took place to discuss the ramifications of this proposed park and the crowd of several hundred concerned anglers voted almost unanimously against the whole concept of sanctuary zones as a good idea. By the time you read this the fate of this park will most likely already be decided.
For me the most interesting point raised at the meeting was rather than take the best 20% and make it a sanctuary zone, why not take the most barren 20% and create a sanctuary zone by introducing artificial reefs? Therefore nobody loses their favourite fishing spot, the Greens get their 20% zones and the fish get an increased and enhanced habitat.
As far as I can see it this is a very smart approach to a complex issue which scientifically cannot be ignored. I am sure most anglers would be happy to see their licence dollar channelled into sanctuary zones if we get to keep all of our favourite fishing spots. Create a sanctuary not take a sanctuary and everyone will be happy.Reads: 737