THE FISHING around Batemans Bay is currently firing on all fronts – wherever you choose to wet a line, the fish seem to be responsive.
Offshore fishos in the know have been doing fantastically well on quality snapper for months now and the bite does not seem to have slowed. Reds to 7kg have been succumbing to the deadly floating baits in the berley trails from the grounds around Burrewarra Point and the extensive Moruya reef complexes. Divers have also seen some big schools of large snapper in close under the Burrie cliffs. The same locations should be red-hot for kingfish, especially if the slimy mackerel schools are present on the day.
On the deep-blue front, marlin should be all but guaranteed and school yellowfin to 30kg have been reasonably prevalent for a few months now, which is mighty encouraging. Even the odd school of albacore has been popping up, especially a good distance beyond the shelf in the cooler patches of water. The longline fleet was catching good albies this time last year, even though they are more a late-season option. Once again, the action was a long way over the shelf in cooler water.
Off the stones, the reports of game fish have been a bit scarce, most likely due to the LBG brigade being stung too many times with lousy seasons in years gone by. Good numbers of slimy mackerel are about so a bit of dedication and persistence should pay off.
February is the true start of the high-speed spinning season. Light to middleweight pelagics should be zipping through the washes by the time you read this and they shouldn’t slow until the end of April. The species on offer vary from year to year, depending on what fish ride the East Australian Current down the coast, but you can expect to see rat kingfish, bonito, frigate mackerel, salmon, tailor and stud slimies to smack a metal baitfish profile.
Big mack tuna, northern bluefin, small cobia and even spotted mackerel have been taken on lures around the Bay some seasons and it is not hard to see why I rate this form of fishing one of my favourites. The variety of fish eager to crunch a lure can be staggering at times and it will be interesting to see if we get another good showing of juvenile samson fish this season. Last year saw quite a few of these ‘tourists’ show up in several locations right until the onset of Winter.
In the estuaries bream, flatties, whiting, trevally and blackfish are all worth chasing. Flathead, especially, have been good. James Gale recently released a croc that measured just shy of a metre. Responsible anglers these days wouldn’t even consider knocking one on the head for a forgettable feed of dry-tasting fish but I would like to see the Queensland model of slot limits in this State to further protect these vital breeders. A photo of an angler releasing a big lizard speaks much louder than a dead fish hanging off a set of scales.
The Clyde River is once again hosting an ABT BREAM qualifying round on the last weekend of February, which suits me quite nicely. My Polycraft 4.1 Challenger project boat should be complete by the start of this month, allowing me just enough time to get used to the boat and squeeze in a little fishing practice. At the time of writing the carpet has all been glued down and the Minn Kota electric is wired up and working nicely. Bilge pumps, sounder and nav lights are still to be done once the 40hp four stroke is finally sitting on the back. It has been a long project, with not much free time for me over the silly season, but I have enjoyed every minute.
Bay local Roy Willis has recently bit the bullet and joined the ‘ice cream tub’ brigade with a loud-looking, orange 4.1-metre Polycraft. No doubt Roy will relish the fitting out task ahead of him. You’ll certainly see that orange coming from a mile away!
Competitors in the forthcoming Clyde BREAM tournament would kill for Tony Bollard’s stunning 48cm (fork length) black bream, taken off a Nelligen rock wall. The fish weighed a genuine three old-fashioned pounds on electronic scales before being rightly returned to the water.Reads: 560