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Some causes for optimism
  |  First Published: September 2006



It has been a miserably cold, wet and windy Winter leading up to this month’s report. Still, there has been some action worth mentioning.

Snapper have finally started to get into gear with many nice fish from 3kg to 5kg succumbing to bait and soft plastics, although finding an opportunity between swells has been a lottery.

Ben Roberts caught and released a nice 5kg red on plastic recently but he was left a bit dejected after losing an estimated 9kg monster after a long chase with the electric motor. It finally found refuge around a lone rock. The plastics boys have noted that all of the pan-sized runts have dispersed, leaving only quality fish.

Daniel Roberts (no relation) also has been getting into some great snapper on bait with one standout fish around 5.5kg that was sporting an impressive fleshy nose and big lumpy head.

Again, yellowfin tuna continue to dominate the game action on the continental shelf with numerous crews tagging up to 18 fish in a session, generally between 30kg and 50kg. I haven’t heard of such a sustained tuna run in the past 10 years. Mixed in with them are some good albacore to 20kg but more commonly around 7kg.

The Winter mainstay, black drummer, continue to be viable off the rocks, providing plenty of thrills. The abundant salmon schools are still hanging around with some anglers fishing the rocks with ganged pilchards noting that there have been a few monsters of 4kg in the schools to keep them on high alert.

In the estuaries there is little to speak of, apart from Wade Eaton producing the goods again with an impressive 8kg jewfish that took a liking to a Gene Larew 6” Shad. Unfortunately the fish didn’t release for the video camera so it came home to provide some tasty dinners.

PARK REACTIONS

The Batemans Bay Marine Park final draft is out for comment and there is a diverse mix of emotions and opinions among the angling community who fish the area.

As a lifetime local and a fanatical fisherman for many of those years, I can see some positive aspects and also some concerns that need to be looked at.

As I write, the zoning map has been released on the internet at www.mpa.nsw.gov.au but as yet is unavailable from tackle shops and the like for closer scrutiny. Obviously by the time you are reading this copies of the map should be readily obtainable, so my comments may change as the finer details come to hand.

The Clyde River looks to be a big winner with most of the tributaries, as well as the upper reaches, afforded sanctuary or habitat protection from commercial netting. This alone will go a long way to mending the fish populations of the river with most breeding estuarine fish believed to do their biological business in the creeks.

The same can also be said about the removal of netting effort outside the Clyde entrance, which should hopefully see a return to the abundance of bottle squid and prawns that the Bay basin was once famous for.

Safety issues surrounding some of the decision making in the North and South Durras sanctuary zones are cause for concern. North Durras rock fishers are now faced with the slippery death trap of Pebbly Point, which has claimed lives, and Point Upright, which can be fished only at low tide on a small swell.

Zooming in on this section you can see a small area that seems to allow rock anglers to fish Clear Point but it needs to go further to encompass ledges further to the north which are quite safe in normal sea conditions. Most anglers, I am sure, would happily see Pebbly Point traded for a few hundred metres of rock to the north of Clear Point.

Myrtle Beach, Flat Rock and Dark Beach are also a heavy loss as this is probably the most favoured section of South Durras for shore-based anglers, apart from the ledges directly in front of the Murramarang Resort.

The MPA continually touts the need for diverse sections of habitat but the chosen north and south sanctuaries are identical. I believe that if they truly want diverse habitats, the South Durras sanctuary needs to be located further south, sparing Myrtle Beach.

I urge all who fish this area, locals and tourists alike, to obtain a map and study the details and submit your comments before the final submission date.

Things like beach-haul netting still being allowed in habitat zones are something to think about. How can this be constructive in a habitat zone? Looking at the proposed Forster/Manning Marine Park, no beach hauling is allowed there in a habitat zone. Why should their be a difference?

There is also a groundswell of opinion that lure and fly fishing on a catch-and-release basis should be allowed in sanctuary zones, particularly in regards to bass, estuary perch and bream. Is that a comment that you would like to support?

With a nervous Labour Government heading towards an election, now is the time to step up the pressure and have your say.

They might have come on the bite later than expected but there are some good reds like these available for plastic-casters and bait fishos alike.

There are still a few jewies about for those willing to work hard for their fish.

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