It’s very pleasing to report some good fishing down this way of late with good catches just about everywhere.
The outside scene has fired as expected and most of the offshore grounds produced billfish over January and February with striped marlin out wider and no shortage of blacks at The Banks. The fishing at The Banks in February was that good that we fished next to boats from Kiama and even Ulladulla on several occasions.
With that many marlin about there was no shortage of good- and bad-luck stories so here’s a few that stood out.
We’d been out at The Block one Saturday morning chasing mahi mahi and with a half a dozen fish for a feed we headed back to The Banks to slow-troll some livies for a beakie.
On the way back we went past a five-metre centre console that was hooked up solid. I didn’t notice that the guy hooked up was the only occupant but Andrew pointed it out so we went over to see if he needed a hand. He looked to have everything under control and declined our offer so we motored away and started to troll a couple of slimies in case there was another fish hanging in the area.
Twenty minutes later the guy was still hooked up and trying to drive his boat and lift what was obviously a very stubborn fish. He got close to getting the leader but each time the fish turned and took a few metres of line. We asked him again if he needed a hand and he took up the offer. He’d been on the fish for three-and-a-half hours apparently so I jumped aboard and took the controls while he set about getting the leader within reach.
After another 20 minutes the wind-on leader was within reach so I traced it and felt a surge of power from what was obviously a solid marlin. All of a sudden I realised the predicament I’d placed myself in. the trace was about 300lb mono but after so many hours on the fish I had no idea how worn it was so tracing the fish became a gamble.
I had to pull hard to get the fish up and next to the boat but if I pulled too hard it could pop, making me not too popular. I ended up letting that trace go several times as the fish surged but we eventually got it billed, tagged and released. A happy ending for Rob Cusack of Sydney, who elected to tag his first marlin and got the photos to prove it.
Second story goes to Anthony Greed of Sanctuary Point. Anthony runs Jervis Bay Marine and promotes Outsider Boats, locally-manufactured aluminium plate hulls that are very solid and well-made. Anthony’s own boat is a 6.3-metre centre cabin called Outsider II, a pretty awesome piece of gear that has accounted for a some good fish in the short time he’s been running it.
We decided to fish The Banks together one weekend so my son, Andrew, and I launched at Greenwell Point, Anthony was to put in at Murrays Beach in Jervis Bay and travel up. By 9am there was no sign of Anthony so we called him up to find out he’d slept in and was just getting fuel.
We’d already caught some mahi mahi on lures and were drifting around The Banks with 30 other boats when Anthony arrived at almost 11am. The was plenty of bait around so he and his mate caught some slimies and started to drift with a couple of livies out.
Andrew and I had been up since 4:30am so the young bloke grabbed a quick snooze and then I lay down to get a bit of shut-eye while things were quiet. I’d no sooner got in the cabin when Andrew told me that Anthony had hooked up and was fighting a fish after having a bait in the water for only 10 minutes. They went tagged and released an 80kg black marlin, fished for another hour and then headed home. We fished on until 3pm without turning a reel…
I’ve been contemplating a new 24kg stand-up rod for a while and with the hot marlin action these past few months I decided to bite the bullet. There are a few reasonable off-the-shelf sticks around including offerings from Shimano and Penn but I opted for a custom rod.
I’ve been running a custom Pacific Composites Fibreforce FC170-15 as a 15kg stroker for a few years so I decided on a matching set. Steve Holdway at Pacific Composites has been rolling some tasty blanks over the past decade and I’ve been lucky enough to fish with quite a few. The FC-170-24 is a composite blank with a graphite butt and fibreglass tip and it’s an awesome 24kg stroker. If it’s possible for a piece of graphite and fibreglass to have balls, this is it.
I ended up cutting the blank back from the butt to 155cm – don’t touch the tip unless you plan to fish heavier than 24kg – for a rod of 160cm once the gimbal butt and AFTCO roller tip were fitted. I went with AFTCO rollers similar to my 15kg stick and ended up gluing and binding it myself because I couldn’t find a rod builder down this way who wasn’t too busy. It’s been a long while since I’ve built rods but I was pretty happy with the end result after the guys at McCallums gave it the one-coat treatment. I’ve matched it with a Tiagra 50W loaded up with Platypus Pink.
Most of the offshore FADS and fish traps have been producing mahi mahi. This fish, taken on a Kokoda Vector, is average but some bigger fish fell to deep-fished live baits.
With all the outside action of late it has been easy to forget the bread-and-butter stuff. Elspeth Finney with a Shoalhaven River lizard taken on a Squidgy soft plastic.
Andrew Finney with a 70kg striped marlin just about to be released at the Jervis Bay Canyons. Anthony Greed of Jervis Bay Marine was the lucky angler who caught and tagged it.
Rob Cusack of Sydney fighting his marlin and driving the boat at the same time. The 100kg black was eventually tagged and released. Not a bad effort considering he did most of the hard yards by himself.Reads: 681