Easter is always a particularly productive time for fishing around the Batemans Bay area.
This is when the big high tides of the day give way to the high night tides of up to 1.91 metres, which coincide or perhaps even initiate the spawning migration of species like mullet, blackfish and bream.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the local jewfish haunts start to spark into life along with hungry sharks, kingfish and the odd longtail tuna. Offshore snapper, too, will be gathering in numbers to make their push into the shallows in preparation for their Winter breeding.
With the possibility of all of these species on offer, coupled with a mix of cool and warm patches of bait-filled water, sensational fishing can be expected for those in the right place at the right time.
Small baitfish can be in densely-packed schools at this stage of the season and will surely be at the mercy of bonito, frigates, salmon, kingfish and occasionally striped and mackerel tuna. Even a few stray school yellowfin tuna were encountered close enough to be caught from the stones, as Ben Roberts found out on a recent kingfish outing.
Several sightings of free-jumping marlin inshore indicate that the water temps are remaining high so expect anything to show up over the next few weeks.
The warm water also brought with it a stunning 15kg cobia for local landscaper Daniel Roberts. Dan scored the thug off the breakwall after returning from a successful kingfish outing. The fish was sighted tailing a big stingray at the cleaning tables and Dan fed it a dead slimy mackerel which resulted in a 20-minute battle on 24kg jigging tackle.
More and more cobes seem to be venturing further south in recent years but this is only the second one of significant size.
Its kingfish capers on the offshore scene with close to 40 boats on the weekends virtually bumping into each other off the productive grounds. If the kings are still firing come Easter, it will be sheer chaos. The pros have been taking stacks of kingfish as well on trolled lead lines with anglers witnessing more than 100 fish coming over the side in quick time.
Many a fisho will be in holiday mode or preparing for a coastal fishing escape so it’s worth retelling a tale from a recent holiday outing from friend Murray Cooper. Camping at a favourite Durras beach, he and son Jake were busily putting together a nice mixed bag of bream, trevally and small snapper from the rocky beach corner.
Murray’s 6kg mono twanged to the hit of a better class of fish and on the second bite he set the hook to what felt like a nice fish. At the same moment son Jake goes through the same routine and he also hooked up. Debate quickly turns to argument as to who’s got the fish and, you guessed it, up pops 2.5kg of snapper with both baits in its gob. Murray’s bait was swallowed deep and Jake pinned it in the corner of the jaw.
There has been a really good run of trevally for some time. Deep rock platforms have been firing best with prawns, oily fish baits and small soft plastics the go.
Trevally are one of the most underrated fish to eat. Once skinned, bled and the blood line removed, they make some one of my favourite pan-fried or battered fillets. Smaller specimens can make an OK live bait, too. One accounted for a 23kg kingfish many moons ago for an LBG mate.
The LBG scene has been slightly better this season with a couple of kingfish to 13kg landed. Sharks have been a bit problematic some days, stealing expensive hooks rigged on mono traces. Bonito and frigates have been very scarce at the time of writing but hopefully this will have changed. Only the occasional bonito, captured on live yellowtail, has eventuated thus far with lures drawing a blank.
Clyde River bream fishing has been exceptional with some big bruisers and some major wipe-outs in the racks. Several anglers have experienced their first success in catching bream on plastics so there must be a few around.
A recent bait-catching trip revealed some notable fish. We were on the bridge at night catching yellowtail to take onto the rocks the following day when a small school jew, followed by one over a metre long, crashed through the bait. Needless to say our 20-minute bait catching sortie suddenly took an hour and a half!
Numerous decent flathead could also be seen skirting the edge of the light on the drop-off. I haven’t seen jewies cruising the bridge lights for many years which is a great sign.
The beaches should be fishing famously now with healthy numbers of big tailor along with the usual salmon schools. Jewfish have not kicked into gear yet but such information never travels the grapevine freely. Jewie fishos are the most cagey of all anglers so if you are still struggling for success, telltale footprint piles on the sand are a good clue to look for – unless, of course, they stay below the high tide mark!
David Bickerstaff from the ACT scored this lovely snapper from deep water wide of Batemans Bay. Those deep resident snapper will be slowly making their way into the shallows over the next few weeks.
Daniel Roberts caught this 15kg cobia on a dead slimy mackerel off the Batemans Bay breakwallReads: 2016