Decisions, decisions…
  |  First Published: April 2003

Things are tough at the moment – I can’t decide whether to fish for jewfish from the local beaches – or in the Shoalhaven River.

Both areas are producing some nice fish but making a decision even more difficult are the good reddies and jew around the inshore reefs and blackfish from the rocks along with salmon on fly.

Yes, March and April are amongst the best months around here and the fishing of late really has been good. So good, in fact, that I wish I could take the whole month off work.

The good thing about having so many species and opportunities available is the fact that no matter what the weather or seas, there is always something to keep you busy, whether you are a rock, beach, boat or estuary angler.

This Autumn I really want to catch a decent jew on a soft plastic. By decent I’m talking 20kg-plus and the best chance I reckon will be from the local beaches on a calm night with little swell. Some big jew have been taken from beaches on soft plastics in the past 12 months and there seems little doubt that a bit of wave action and whitewater pushing into a gutter doesn’t seem to put the fish off or stop them grabbing a lure. Those jew will be around for the next few months so you can be sure I’ll be out there fishing some favourite gutters with some big Storm WildEye shads.

Another thing I like doing in Autumn is chasing inshore reddies. Most of the reefs within a few kilometres of the coast are producing fish to 6kg. Most of the better fish are falling to floaters fished down berley trails by anglers who fish lighter traces, smaller hooks and who don’t bashing away at a berley pot. Most of the guys who are taking the best fish are cutting up berley on a bait board and just flicking pieces over every few minutes. It sure makes a difference and these guys have taken some big reds to prove it.

Bream and blackfish are well worth chasing in the river at night. Squirt worms are producing the best blackfish while bream are falling to crabs, prawns and squid pieces. A little berley is well worth the effort. Some nice fish are being taken from Greenwell Point wharf along with the odd jewie to 20kg on live baits or squid heads.

For something more relaxing, how about squid fishing in Jervis Bay? There is still some good squid fishing to be had around Longbeach and Honeymoon Bay and over near Bowen Island and Greenpatch. It’s a great family day out in the boat and even better when you get a feed of fresh calamari the next night. We’ve found that overcast days produce a lot more squid than sunny ones and that it also pays to change jig colours until you find one working better than the others. The only bad bit is having to clean the squid but I reckon that’s a small price to pay for a great day out and a free feed.

Buy-back results

About this time last year there was much talk about NSW Fisheries using our licence money to buy back commercial licenses from estuary netters on the South Coast. This was at the same time that quite a few estuaries were closed to commercial fishing. One such estuary is St Georges Basin, which last Summer produced some very good fishing for bream and flathead. Most holidaymakers managed to catch a feed while some local anglers caught and released some impressive flathead on soft plastics.

One river still open to commercial fishing, but not as much as in the past, is the Shoalhaven River. The number of pros netting this water is about half what it used to be and most recreational anglers I’ve spoken to over the past few months all agree that it is fishing better than they can remember. It’s way too early to be making claims that the licence buy-back is starting to show results but wouldn’t it be nice to see things improve to the point where it was conclusive and we all had to start looking at bag and size limits because it was possible to catch your bag limit of flathead, bream, blackfish or whiting in one day ?

Cook Islands bonefish

Last November I spent 10 days in the Cook Islands with a mate from Melbourne, Gordon Howlett. Gordon runs corporate fishing charters and arranges local and overseas fishing trips for just about any fish anywhere. Our Cook Islands trip established it a viable destination for Aussie flycasters keen to tackle these speedsters in one of the most majestic locations imaginable. Some of the fish we caught went 3.5kg and to catch such fish in knee-deep, crystal-clear water was the stuff that dreams are made of.

Gordon has now organised several packages with a variety of accommodation and fishing days, including very affordable basic packages up to flash digs right on the edge of a lagoon, along with light tackle sport and gamefishing in the capital, Rarotonga. Phone Gordon on 03 9807 6622 or email --e-mail address hidden--



Christine Finney with a solid bream from the Shoalhaven River. Such fish have been quite common, a possible indication that reduced commercial pressure may result in improved fishing for a recreational anglers.


Andrew Finney with a 4kg Shoalhaven River jew. The past few months have produced a heap of similar fish with the river fishing as well many locals can remember.


The author with a typical Cook Islands bonefish of 3.5kg, caught on fly in knee-deep water.

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