The game fishing season should be well under way with some hot blue-water action.
Last January saw some of the best marlin fishing you could imagine down this way with plenty of striped marlin at the continental shelf and some solid blacks hanging around The Banks and The Block. On the better days it was non-stop action out wide with lures and live baits getting eaten within minutes of hitting the water.
The blacks in closer at The Banks were a bit patchier but with fish to 140kg on live slimies, it was certainly worth spending some time out there. Sadly, the action was over after several weeks.
This season has started off pretty well with some big yellowfin being caught in late November and early December, along with some thumper mahi mahi. Best yellowfin I heard of out from Wollongong was 80kg and the same week mahi mahi to 25kg were also taken so let’s hope that’s a sign of a hot season ahead.
Some nice kings have been hanging around The Banks with fish up to 25kg being taken by pros and fish not much smaller falling to amateurs using live baits and squid.
Landing big kings is never easy and trying to wrestle them off the Main Hump on rod and reel is something that many anglers have tried to perfect over the years. The odd few have succeeded but I don’t know of anyone who could claim to have mastered catching kings at The Banks – even on 37kg stand-up tackle.
The problem is that the fish are usually found right on top of the Main Hump, where they’ll school up and chase baitfish. Drop a live bait down among them and nine times out of 10 you’ll hook a fish.
The only drama then is that no matter which way that fish dives, it goes over an edge of some sort. Trying to cut short that power dive often results in a bust-up that brings the fight to an end only just before your line gets shredded anyway. The only time I’ve landed decent kings at The Banks has been by steady pressure and not going for broke with line-snapping drag settings.
Luck is also required on any fish over 20kg, although you need to fish heavy tackle to start with.
It was about this time last year that some very nice kings were being caught from the Currarong rocks. The hot locations included The Eaves and Big Beecroft but those fish were right along the peninsula and could have been caught in a lot more places had it not been for Marine Park sanctuary zones and Defence closures. What an absolute shame that an area that was probably the world’s hottest land based game-fishing coastline several years ago is virtually now only a handful of platforms still fishable and LBG is just about history.
Kings to 20kg were pretty regular last January and I can see no reason why history won’t repeat itself. Also on the agenda were a heap of salmon schooling in close and being caught most early mornings on lures, along with some nice blackfish if you decided to hang around and fish cabbage baits under a float or bobby cork.
With the holiday season on us you can bet that the local beaches will be pretty heavily populated so don’t expect to wander down at 9am and find space to wet a line anywhere. However, the local beaches are certainly worth fishing now – you just need to pick your times and locations to avoid getting crowded out or frustrated.
On offer will be some nice bream and whiting early mornings and late arvos, along with the odd school jewie just on sunset and into the evening.
The trick is to fish the right tides and do some scouting to find a few gutters away from the populated areas. A long walk along the beach is good exercise and is the perfect opportunity to find some fishy gutters and drop-offs.
You can also look for some nice flat areas to chase beach worms for bait or even look around for bait schools that will attract salmon and tailer to a gutter. Scout out as many fishy areas as you can and note what tide each gutter will fish better on by taking a tide chart with you so. It’s not much fun finding a nice gutter and then coming back later that day to find it too shallow to fish or a 100 metres from the shoreline and unreachable with even the longest cast.
Tides and moon are critical factors in beach fishing so if you intend to fish the beaches these holidays, ask the locals what tide or moon phase is best for certain species or locations. Another tip is to record the tide and moon phase if you hear of anyone catching a few fish.
You’re better off asking when the fish were caught, rather than where. At least then you can study your tide chart to work out when to fish next and hopefully repeat that catch.
One of my family’s favourite activities over Summer is chasing squid. Christine and the kids just love getting out on Jervis Bay and enjoying the sights. After a beach picnic and catching a few squid for dinner we all usually get home, clean up and collapse in various rooms exhausted from a great day out. We usually launch the boat at Callala Bay but we travel around to any of a dozen locations to find squid.
Fish over or around ribbon weed and work your squid jigs just above the weed with a slow, gentle jigging motion. Don’t use heavy tackle. I fish a 2.1-metre rod with 6lb braid and a two-metre leader of 6kg uni knotted to it.
If conditions are really bright and the water is clear I’ll go down to a 4kg leader. My favourite jig colours include blue, green and pink in Yo Zuri jigs 3 and 3.5. I normally rig the rods with a few different colours and let the kids get into it. After a while you’ll soon work out which colour is producing the most squid on the day.
The best tip I can give you is to clean the squid at a cleaning table or at the ramp. Don’t even think about doing it in the boat or at home!
Roger Morley with a pan-sized red taken from The Shallows on a floater.
Andrew Finney with a typical Shoalhaven River flathead, which took a liking to a soft plastic.Reads: 488