WORD is well and truly out about a couple of solid southern bluefin tuna being caught off Jervis Bay in June.
With pending Australian and NSW game-fishing Records, a couple of lucky Shoalhaven anglers can feel pretty pleased with themselves after spending a bit of time in recent years trying to crack the southern bluefin fishery.
The story starts several years ago when some local anglers made attempts to have southern bluefin tuna reinstated to the game-fishing list. They were removed many years ago when their numbers were assessed as very low.
After a fair bit of negotiation and submitting a very solid case, southern blues were put back on the list of species eligible for competitions and pointscores. The record books were reopened and, with very few big fish ever caught in NSW, the heavier tackle categories were wide open for any boat with a bit of nous to get out and grab a record. With yellowfin tuna now rare, even ‘heaviest tuna’ trophies were available.
Last year a few boats from Jervis Bay and Greenwell Point headed out to where some Ulladulla longliners told them to look. After several trips with no luck they postponed things until more reliable reports were available.
In June the bluefin were back wide of Jervis Bay and Ulladulla and one group of anglers went out chasing them again. On the June long weekend one boat was out on the shelf from Jervis Bay and not making much of an impression trolling lures around so decided to head out wider in search of bait or birds. Several miles over the drop-off, they detected baitfish activity which got thicker the farther they went.
About six miles over the drop-off they spotted surface splashes and, about a mile short of the commotion, the crew saw a 100kg southern blue clear the water coming straight at them. With three guys on board a 13-metre game boat and one driving, they had a triple hook-up on tackle from 60kg down to 15kg.
While they were trying to clear lines and get at least one angler in the chair on a 60kg outfit, another two rods went off as the lures sank slowly. Five rods connected to big southern bluefin and only three anglers meant that a 15kg rig was purposely busted off.
After some time only two rods were left with fish and three expensive lures had been lost. Brian Aulsebrook fought one fish from the chair, only to lose it right at the boat, while poor Martin Shaliapin spent 45 minutes fighting a fish on a 37kg chair outfit standing up. That’s doing it tough.
His efforts were rewarded with a 75.4kg bluefin, a pending NSW record. After Martin’s fish was landed they set out again in search of the saurie school and as soon as they found it they hooked another fish on the 60kg outfit. Brian was on strike again and took an hour to subdue a fish that went 120.2kg, a pending Australian record.
As I write, the Ulladulla longliners are still getting a heap of bluefin up to 120kg but the weather has been too foul for game boats to have a go. Don’t be too surprised to hear of more fish being taken. Maybe some southern game anglers are closer to having a new Winter fishery.
Quite a few yellowfin tuna were also taken on the same weekend and several striped marlin were hooked, all around the Jervis Bay canyons.
I’ve always reckoned that August was the slowest and worst fishing month but, over the past decade, I have seen some reasonable catches in this period of cold westerly winds. If these are blowing, the only fishing options are the rocks or the beach when the seas are dead flat and you can find some shelter from the wind.
At this time a few drummer or bream are an option from the rocks and, while it may be a bit early, a reddie is not out of the question – especially if you can find some fresh cuttlefish for bait.
The odd blackfish will also be around although most of them will be in the rivers until October.
Form the beaches, a few bream are on the cards and, while next month is much better, a jew is not out of the question if you are prepared to put the time in at night with fresh bait. If some bait shows up then salmon schools are also likely to be hanging around the beaches.
Outside there should be a few big kings out around The Mud or The Banks. The big fish never showed last year and that was the start of one of the worst kingfish and snapper seasons on record, with even the pros complaining about how dead things were.
Hopefully this August will see some better water arrive with a bit of bait and we can get serious about chasing big kings on jigs and livies. I will be hanging out to hook something that pulls hard after last season’s dismal results.
Pending national records, these southern bluefin tuna of 120.2kg and 75.4kg were caught wide of Jervis Bay by Brian Aulsebrook and Martin Shaliapin.Reads: 2820