IT HAS been good to see some bonito finally show up on the South Coast.
These striped speedsters are capable of providing some great fun on light tackle and are also a highly sought-after fly target. Five or six years ago it was possible to spin half a dozen bonito from the rocks most mornings over Summer and Autumn and you could troll up as many as you wanted by dragging a couple of Rapalas around just about any headland.
If you were lucky enough to find a surface school of bonito it was absolute mayhem casting small metal lures or flies into their midst. That was until about three or four years ago.
Since then the bonito schools just seemed to disappear from the South Coast. There were the usual theories including El Nino, the drought, commercial pressure and even the lack of baitfish. Their disappearance may have been a combination of all these or unfavourable currents. Whatever the reason, it has been good to see a few show up.
Quite a few have been spun up from the rocks north and south of Jervis Bay by early-morning anglers tossing metal lures and most boats trolling close to the deeper headlands have also produced a few fish. A few were also taken at The Banks by anglers trolling small lures for kings so let’s hope bonito are on the return.
Last month I mentioned that a large part of Booderee National Park, on the southern side of Jervis Bay, had suffered extensive fire damage last year and that some driving tracks to popular rock platforms had been closed for an overly long period. Local rockhopper Roger Morley rang the South Coast Register newspaper and actually got interviewed and had a chance to put his complaints in writing. Roger’s main beef was that rock anglers are finding it more and more difficult to legally fish local platforms north and south of Jervis Bay, what with closures of tracks, the Beecroft bombing range and Jervis Bay Marine Park Sanctuary Zones. I’d reckon that at least 50 % of the rock platforms north, south and inside Jervis Bay would be now be off-limits and having driving tracks to the few platforms able to be fished being closed because of fires was the last straw.
National Parks told the local paper the Stony Creek track would be opened within two weeks and they were true to their word. We are all very grateful to have it open and we are looking forward to getting down there.
It has been almost four years since the Jervis Bay Marine Park closed large areas to fishing and bait gathering. The theory was to protect areas of environmental significance and fish populations but I’ve seen very little proof that this has happened. I guess the fact that I haven’t been into any of these Sanctuary Zones has something to do with this but it sounds to me like many other anglers have.
Over Christmas quite a few boats and land-based anglers were caught fishing inside Sanctuary Zones and reportedly fined. I’m sure some of these cases were simply mistakes by visiting anglers who weren’t aware of these zones. Others were quite blatant and some were local anglers who knew they were fishing well inside sanctuary zones and were there because they thought the fishing would be better or because they’d fished those locations for years and believed they had right of access. Most copped pretty heavy fines from what I heard.
The Marine Park Authority has been pretty quiet since the zoning process was completed and I don’t think I’ve seen any literature or data on what has been achieved by having areas closed to fishing. I’m sure it is being monitored but what about a pamphlet or brochure to let the public know how these sanctuary zones are working and if there has been any benefit? I haven’t noticed any improvement in fish stocks in Jervis Bay and, to be honest, I reckon the Bay has fished pretty poorly since the zones were introduced. I’m not saying they have made the fishing any worse but I certainly haven’t seen any evidence of improvements. Maybe that’s because the areas that can be fished are getting hit by more anglers.
May is a pretty good time to be fishing for quite a few species. The water has cooled considerably and the mornings are quite chilly but not all the fish have relocated to warmer water. There are some good jewfish to be caught from the local beaches and even in the river. The rocks are fishing pretty well for drummer, reds, bream and blackfish.
It’s certainly not too late to live-bait for a king or try to spin up a mackerel tuna. Outside, options are still pretty good with some nice reds on the inshore reefs, kings at The Banks and The Block and mackerel tuna. Find some good water out wider and you’ll be in with a chance of a yellowfin or albacore.
If trout turn you on, you could do worse than give Fitzroy Falls a go with some lures. There’s something about, no matter where you fish or what style of angling you prefer.
Some nice blackfish are being taken from the rocks at present. Bob Russo gets among them at Currarong.
When all else fails and it’s blowing from the south, give Fitzroy Falls a go for rainbow trout.
The local beaches are producing some nice bream and jewfish. Catch a few beach worms and soak them in a gutter on dusk. Fresh fillets or squid heads are also worth trying for a big jew.
Jervis Bay is fishing well for squid. While they are a bit patchy, once you find them the fishing is very good. Try a few different locations until you get some action.Reads: 1960