All the signs are there
  |  First Published: December 2003

The signs are looking good for a decent pelagic season. The past two seasons on the fast fish around The Bay have been a bit crappy, at least within my fishy grapevine.

The ocean temps have been climbing nicely over the past few weeks and I’d expect to see water in the low 20°s early in the month. Baitfish numbers are also massing nicely, especially in the 40-fathom region.

A regular customer himself a superb 50kg yellowfin tuna recently in 80 fathoms on a trolled lure. He placed on my counter a plastic shopping bag nearly splitting at the sides with one-hour-old tuna and said, “Cook me up two steaks of this, throw in some chips and you can have the rest.” I gladly accepted. It has been way too long since I last had a feed of ’fin – I love it.

Fresh tuna lends itself to many cooking methods and with my background as a seafood chef, the lot was devoured in a matter of days. My favourite method is to roll a long section of tuna (similar to an uncut scotch fillet steak) in finely crushed lemon pepper, then quickly sear the outsides but leave the inner three-quarters raw. Thin slices, eaten on its own or dipped in your favourite sauce, are hard to beat.

Yellowfin aren’t traditionally a January fish but the various game-fishing comps around the place always produce a few good ones. Most hopefuls generally have marlin fever in the height of Summer so any ’fin is usually considered by-catch.

Inshore and off the rocks should see good numbers of kingfish, bonito and small surface-cruising hammerhead and whaler sharks. Late January usually sees the first wave of frigate mackerel hit town and the fishing only gets better from there.

Offshore fishos seeking snapper have been finding a few nice fish to 5kg. Tiny live yellowtail fished deep on the Four Mile Reef seem to be finding the better class of reds.


In the estuaries, expect a slow-down effect to take place in heavy-traffic areas. Bream, especially, will seek quieter areas where ski boats and other pleasure craft aren’t roaring about the place. Still, good fishing is on offer despite the holiday crowds, with very early starts usually paying off.

The oyster racks are the best bet for bream as boat traffic is a daily occurrence with oyster punts always about. I fished the new Squidgy Surface Bugs the other day and their action is very seductive.

I had four good inquiries but failed to hook up. Meanwhile, Murray Cooper kicked my arse on a little resin Storm popper with a truly wicked internal rattle that drew fish from all over the place. The score was 5-0 and Murray also dropped several fish. He ended up retiring the ‘secret weapon’ through fear of losing, it as Rodney from Harry’s Bait and Tackle reckons they are no longer in production.

Phil Petridis released an absolute monster of a flathead recently while tossing plastic for jew. The croc measured one metre long and was 27cm across the head!

Estuary jewfish continue to be conspicuous in their absence but I intend spending many hours in the pursuit of these highly addictive creatures once school holidays are over and the Polycraft is finally on the water. Working seven days and nights a week throughout the holidays is certainly not conducive to fitting out a new boat, but a couple of hours each night and she’s coming along nicely. Late-night power tools are probably testing the neighbours’ patience, though!

Kingfish, like this 5kg rat‚ will be the mainstay for rock fishos and boaties alike over the next few months.

Hammerhead sharks fight hard with long, fast runs. A live slimy mackerel or tailor on light wire usually brings them undone. If bled, hammers taste pretty good.

Dave Norman with a typical land-based mixed bag of rat kings, squid, trevally and a lone whaler shark.

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