No shortage of news this month with fish just about everywhere. Everyone I speak to at the moment has been catching fish and I as you would expect that at this time of year, things are running hot.
The rocks are firing with kings and some pelagics for sport and game anglers. Some big kingfish have been taken with fish of 20kg quite common. One of the best I heard about was taken a few months back and went 28kg cleaned, not a bad king from the rocks .
All of the LBG platforms have been firing and if you can get out mid-week then go for it, because the crowds have been a pain in the butt most weekends. Some nice drummer and blackfish are also hanging around most of the recognised bread-and-butter platforms and I’ve heard of the odd samson fish to 2kg being taken out around Currarong.
The beach jew are just starting to fire. Some nice fish should be taken from the local beaches until June. Get some fresh bait, fish the deeper gutters on a run-up tide and be prepared to put in the hours.
If you follow the rules and spend some time at it you can just about be assured of getting a run. Take you time and be patient and you should land that fish. Most of the beach fish down this way average 10kg to 20kg so they are well worth chasing.
The beaches are also producing no shortage of salmon and tailor at dawn and dusk. Lures or gang-rigged pilchards are doing the trick in most gutters or wherever birds are working.
April is snapper time down here. The past few months have seen some very tidy fish taken in Jervis Bay on soft plastics and I’ve heard of fish to 5kg taken and some to 7kg being lost after monumental struggles on light threadline tackle.
Simon Pender lost one recently that did him down deep after he had it close to the net. He reckons that fish was around 6kg, a bloody nice red on a plastic. Most plastics are working on the local reds with red, gold and pink the pick, along with the natural colours. Anything around 100 to 120 mm long is fine.
Most of the local guns are fishing Nitro heads with Berkeley, Atomic, Assassin or Squidgy tails. Just work them slow and deep for the best results but work the edges of gutters or drop-offs the week before a full moon if you want that big red.
Most of the inshore reefs are also fishing well for reds. We’ve been getting fish to 3kg on floaters over several small reef and gravel patches. Rather than anchor, we’ve been drifting over reef edges and fishing lightly weighted squid, cuttlefish or tuna on Mustad Fine Wire circle hooks.
We cover a bit more area this way but we still fish a slowly-sinking, bite-sized bait that the reds can’t leave alone. I guess it’s a hybrid technique that involves drifting but instead of heavy leads that keep the bait close to the bottom we cover the bottom half of the water column. We’re catching reds in water from 20 to 40 metres.
Out wider, The Banks is fishing well for kings on live baits. Boats fishing livies on downriggers or sinkers are taking fish to 15kg and the odd marlin bait is also getting nailed by kings early each morning.
I don’t care what anyone says, kings are one of our prestige species. They fight like demons and taste very nice.
The past few months have also seen some spectacular black marlin fishing at The Banks. In mid to late February we had a great run of fish and it was nothing to see as many half a dozen boats hooked up at the same time. The fishing really was out of the box with blacks to 130kg taken by small boats.
Out along the shelf was firing with striped marlin taken on lures and live baits in a season that started late but ended up being memorable. The mahi mahi fish turned up late but there were fish to 17kg taken and some thumpers at The Banks on live bait.
There have been quite a few sharks about over the past month or so. I know of a few boats that had marlin eaten by sharks and even a big tiger having a go at a boat out on the shelf. That was a bit scary.
Most game anglers have a superstition regarding bananas being bad luck on boats or while fishing. It is quite often said that having bananas on a boat is bad luck and there is no shortage of anglers who won’t have a banana anywhere near their boat.
I’ve got a few banana stories. One involves a trip to the Solomon Islands about 10 years ago. I fished with Bruce Libbis from Merimbula and the day before a marlin trip we bought some bananas at the local markets.
I wasn’t overly keen on the idea but Bruce pooh-poohed the bad-luck tales and said it would be fine. He’s done a lot of game fishing and obviously liked eating bananas so who was I to disagree.
We fished all morning and never turned a reel in some pretty good water that should have held fish. Around lunch time we broke out the bananas and the boat skipper laughed at us. The fruit we’d bought was a tropical style banana that is very hard and actually needs to be cooked like a potato in a fire or on hot coals before it is edible.
I cursed Bruce and we threw the offending fruit overboard. Within 10 minutes we tagged and released an 80kg black marlin. I haven’t bothered taking bananas on a boat since.
Over the past game season we’ve had a running competition with another much larger boat from Greenwell Point. At one stage this other boat and its crew were well ahead of us with hook-ups and tagged marlin so one morning we decided to leave some bananas on the other boat to see if that gave us an advantage. Only problem was the other crew were already on the big boat and getting their gear ready when we sneaked down the creek. We motored over slowly and made out that we had some new piece of gear to show them.
They came over near us and we tossed them half a dozen bananas. They were absolutely horrified and quickly threw them back at us as we sped off.
That day they had a pretty bad run of luck. They jumped off their first fish just out of tag pole range and then popped a fish off and lost a lure not long after. They then fished for several hours with free-jumping striped marlin all around them without a single hit while other boats had no trouble raising fish.
They were absolutely cursing us until they had a late charge and tagged two stripes. Whether you believe in superstition or not, the above tale has to make you wonder. I reckon there should be more banana planting going on, especially in tournaments where the competition is fierce. Don’t fish harder – just secretly hide a few bananas on your mate’s boat and watch the bad luck flow.
(Photo by Scott Sharpe)Reads: 916