Shake off that New Year hangover because it’s time to go fishing and what better way to start the year than a spot of chasing pelagic speedsters.
Marlin, tuna, sharks and mahi mahi will all be on the go. Last month’s report detailed yellowfin tuna being captured in closer to shore, around 45 fathoms, and since then a scattering of fish have been encountered in half that depth again – depths that are easily fished for snapper and not all that far off the rocks.
Attempting to chase tuna inshore will also yield kingfish on trolled lures or live baits so don’t be scared to give it a go.
The inshore run of tuna has been around 18kg to 25kg so you certainly don’t need to own gold, flashy 50W game reels to have a dig at them. Any of today’s quality larger spinning reels or mid-weight overheads can be used with confidence.
Snapper to 3kg have been captured and some small kingfish have shown up so if you are chasing these fish it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a surface live bait set just in case a pod of tuna shows up.
A surface live bait will also interest hammerhead sharks, often prevalent in January. Most will be less than 2m and can be handled on modest tackle.
Hammers usually have a cracking surface run when first hooked and are great fun. If you like battered flake then any shammer up to 30kg is worth eating, otherwise release them.
The flesh will keep well in the freezer for several months if portioned and wrapped tightly in cling wrap to ensure against freezer burn.
Estuary fishing has hit its straps with flathead in size and numbers.
On a recent bream outing in lake Conjola we saw the biggest flathead I have ever seen cruise past. I first mistook for a stingray, it was that wide across the head.
Later that day I managed to hook an 80cm fish in deep water while searching for a jewie and it looked a tiddler compared with that big mama.
A few fish nudging the magic metre have been caught and released along the coast, so there is plenty of incentive to hit the estuaries.
I took my girlfriend Carol up the Clyde River recently in search of jew; it was only her second time fishing in her life.
We sounded out some big bait balls on a deep bend and worked 5” shads and 7” jerk shads around them. Wade Eaton pulled up and fished along side us and informed us that he’d recently scored a 9kg fish from the same spot.
We worked the area for a solid hour for just a few bumps and Wade left to fish further up river.
His wake had barely settled when Carol piped up with ‘I think I’ve snagged the bottom’. Indeed it did look like she’d snagged until the rod savagely lurched downward and with five or six headshakes, the little 4000-size reel was sizzling.
With no idea of pump-and-wind techniques, slack line was continually a problem and I was freaking out. Still, she managed to get the fish to the boat, only to see all the line disappear with another awesome run.
Unfortunately, there was slack line again and one too many headshakes dislodged the lure and the fish was gone. After some coaching Carol was back to casting with renewed vigour and managed a nice 55cm flathead about 10 casts later.
Andrew Badullovich recently encountered a ‘Groundhog Day’ event in the Clyde River when his crew managed to boat a trio of jewfish of 15kg, 10kg and 9kg, similar to a feat they produced last year.
They also hooked a few decidedly larger fish that won their freedom and released 1m flathead. Live baits fished at night were the key to success.
Off the rocks, we should see bonito arrive to mix with the kingfish. Metal lures, soft plastics and live baits will all work, as well as shallow-running hard-bodied lures.
Salmon, tailor and trevally will also inhabit those same washes if you prefer to work a few pilchards down a berley trail.
Casting 7” Jerk Shads off the rocks the other day. I hooked a leviathan of a jewfish at my feet that emptied 200m of 10kg before popping the 40lb leader. The fish never looked like slowing and was quite a humbling experience.
Jewfish off the beaches will also be an option this month with salmon, tailor and whiting also available. Beach worms are a great Summer bait for all these species and will help to avoid the hordes of pesky whaler sharks that plague the beaches after dark.