We’re right in the middle of the best time of the year and there is no shortage of fish about at the moment.
After a slow start the game fishing scene is well under way with a heap of striped and black marlin around. The Banks has been fishing very well for blacks this season with fish to 150kg being taken. Some bigger fish have been hooked with one thumper estimated at well over 200kg being lost after a monumental battle that lasted almost 8 hours on 24kg tackle.
Most of the Banks fish have been getting taken on live slimies either fished on top or down deep with a downrigger. Out wider on the shelf the fishing has been just as good with striped and black marlin on the chew. Live baits are working well but a lot of stripes have been taken on lures, particularly the Squidgy Bluewater Baitfish Jelly Beans. Most of the gun boats are running at least a few of these at present and catching fish on them. They can be fiddly to rig up and often need to be replaced after a fish but they work and are relatively cheap. The Technicolor Yawn colour seems to be the most popular.
Despite the influx of visitors over Xmas, Jervis Bay turned on some good fishing including some memorable reds on plastics. Many local anglers have always considered reds in JB to be a Winter and Spring affair but there have been quite a few taken over January and nearly all on plastics. These days there are more snapper being taken in JB than I can ever remember and the fishing looks like it could go for most of the year instead of the usual Winter fishery most locals enjoyed. I’ll only get into trouble with mates if I mention locations so apologies. The Bay is also fishing well for squid at the moment with Callala and Honeymoon Bay and Hole in The Wall producing some good feeds of calamari. Also some pelagics have been in around Long Nose and Target Beach.
The Shoalhaven River has been producing the odd jewie but overall it has been pretty average for quite some time now. The blackfish and flathead have been very quiet. There’s probably little doubt that it is being over fished commercially to the point where even the pros are complaining.
St George’s Basin is fishing very well these days with some excellent flathead and bream on lures. It’s amazing what benefits there are to a stretch of water and even the local economy when commercial licenses are bought out and there is no estuary netting.
The Shoalhaven might be a bit slow at present but that hasn’t stopped several locals getting jewies on plastics. A couple of those locals live within spitting distance of me at Greenwell Point. Neil Oliver is a keen estuary angler who runs a 4.35 Hornet Trophy and fishes the river quite a bit with lures. He’s always been a flathead and bream man but recently caught his first jewie on a soft plastic while fishing with Scott Sharpe.
Another angler who lives just down the road from me and spends a fair bit of time fishing the Shoalhaven is Fishing Monthly contributor Bobby Russo. Bob runs a 4.35m tinnie with a 40 on the back but over the past few years he has taken up fishing from kayaks. He’s taken bream, squid and flathead from his kayak but he recently caught his first jewie from a kayak on a soft plastic while chasing flathead.
I recently spent a morning chasing jewies with plastics on board Bob’s tinnie and while we didn’t hook or land a jew we did find a nice school of salmon at the river mouth and spent several hours tossing lures at them with light threadline tackle. I haven’t done a lot of that sort of stuff since getting rid of my tinnie for a bigger boat a couple of years ago and it was great to get back into it for a fun session. We kept a couple of them for fish cakes and released the rest.
As many readers would know I’ve lived in Greenwell Point for many years and have done a lot of fishing down this way over the past two decades. In that time I got pulled up once and fined by Waterways. That was about 15 years ago and we got pinged in a 12’ tinnie for no registration or licence because it had a 9.9 outboard and the guy reckoned it was going 20 knots with three on board. I’ve never seen a fishing inspector or even been checked but things are changing.
Just a few months ago I got pulled over and checked by Waterways while in Jervis Bay and over Christmas we got pulled up at the ramp by Fisheries, who came on board, checked the length of a 70cm kingfish we had kept and checked our fishing licenses. They also checked half a dozen other boats for bag limits and lengths of species and were quite thorough, going over boats and making sure no one had any fish hidden. I’d like to see more of that, especially over holidays.
Only a week before, we were coming back into the river at Crookhaven when we spotted a Waterways vessel fining boats for no lifejackets. They had one boat pulled over as we went past (wearing lifejackets) but, believe it or not, some clown went racing out to see over the bar oblivious to the rule or the Waterways vessel. They promptly pulled him over. Talk about easy money!
Rangers are also enforcing Jervis Bay Marine Park sanctuary zones. We had one taking an interest in us over Christmas as we fished the edge of one. This ranger thought we were heading into a sanctuary zone to fish and was actually running along the shore with a pair of binoculars, ready to take our details, when we pulled up right on the edge and drifted back. She was about 50m away but I’m sure I could see a look of disappointment on her face when she couldn’t ping us. Be warned, though – they are fining heavily and not taking ignorance as an excuse. One local recently got a $2500 fine for his trouble.Reads: 2164