First, catch your worms…
  |  First Published: May 2003

In last month’s report I wrote that the much-needed drenching we received would hopefully have a positive effect on all facets of fishing. It most certainly has.

Big whiting have been coming from virtually every beach of late, from Durras to Tuross and everywhere in between. Beach worms are doing the most damage for the angler with the ability to acquire these prehistoric little morsels. I am a total newcomer to the art of beach-worming but despite a frustrating crash-course apprenticeship, it hasn’t taken me too long to get the hang of it. I am actually finding it quite addictive.

Whiting have not been the reason for my worming desires, though. My worms are another beach jewfish bait alternative – the broader the scope of bait choices the better, I reckon. A few jewfish have been hitting the sand of late, from schoolies to a sprinkling of 15kg to 17kg fish.

Kingfish have been going crazy for months now and I don’t think this month will be an exception. The Moruya/Broulee reef complex has been churning out copious numbers of hoodlums averaging from 8kg to 17kg. LBG devotee Dave Norman got bricked the other day by what he describes as the biggest king he has ever had on. After it snaffled a live frigate mackerel, he reckons he never even looked like turning it. Frigates should still be about early in the month, so tempting a big king should still be a realistic option.

On the subject of LBG, at the end of May 2002 I witnessed a large pod of seriously big northern bluefin tuna smashing the daylights out of a hapless school of garfish in front of my Malua Bay shop at 9am. Dean Heycox saw the same mayhem about six hours later a few points north. He reckoned the gars were leaping onto dry rocks en masse to elude capture. Unfortunately, Deano is a snapper fishing purist, rigidly sticking to his squid leg baits while the blues pigged out on garfish for over an hour. I hate being stuck at work on days like that! So don’t be surprised if the next ‘kingfish’ hook-up turns into a horizon-bound line-burner.

May is snapper time on the South Coast but the action has been outstanding since March, with plenty of fish to 4.5kg and a smattering of reds to 8kg. Off the rocks was a shocker of a snapper run last year despite the most sustained cuttlefish run I have ever witnessed. The only conclusion I could come up with was the lack of rain. Good reds graced boat fishos’ eskies but only a small handful of rock fishos got among them.

Estuary joke.

The only place not firing of late has been the Clyde River. Bream have been patchy and legal flathead have been non-existent. Long-time residents Wayne and Margaret Graeber spend every weekend trolling and bait-fishing for flathead and rarely miss out on a feed. In the last two months they have not caught a single legal fish. They always figure in the top placings in the estuary section for our fishing club, so they know their stuff.

Back in March, local ex-oyster farmer/ex-fishing guide Lindsay Bond spearheaded a push to petition to abolish commercial nets in the Clyde. The petition on my counter quickly filled up with well over 200 names. Many other businesses around town have also contributed similar results, which equates to a hell of a lot of public support. At the time of writing it is still in the petition stage, so time will tell its effectiveness.

Local netter Ben Innes was quoted in the local paper as saying fishing in the Clyde has never been better. The entire recreational fishing community clearly does not agree. I am not anti-pro fishing but estuary meshing is a dinosaur that has not realised it is dead yet. The dead by-catch of juvenile fish often outweighs the saleable catch.

And don’t get me started on the slaughter of huge aggregations of 2kg-plus Winter breeding estuary perch floating down river belly-up. It happens every year and it is totally senseless. My blood boils just writing about it!

Lets hope the re-elected Government continues the commercial buy-outs and expansion of net-free rivers before responsible anglers start to question the worth of their licence fees. It is working well so far – let’s hope the ball keeps rolling.


1 -

Wheelchair angler Garry Crookes stole the show at the Batemans Bay yellowfin tournament last year on OB1 charters with this stud ’fin. This year’s contest will be on May 24 and 25.

2 -

Andy Notman scored this lovely snotty-nosed snapper on a live yakka in 70 metres of water. The fish was full of little yakkas, so he matched the hatch perfectly.

3 -

Over the next few months silver drummer like this 6.5kg lump will be cruising the bread berley trails off the rocks. They’re great sport but lousy tucker, so carefully return them to the suds to fight another day.

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