THE DAYS are getting longer and the sun’s warmth continues to increase as we roll on to Summer. Warmer days don’t necessarily mean the fishing will start to hot up on the South Coast, however.
Fishing around the Batemans Bay region in October still has a Wintery feel about it. The water temperature will increase only slightly from what we were fishing a month or two ago and the fish will still be a little lethargic. Over the years I have noticed that the cliffs of the Beecroft Peninsula at the entrance to Jervis Bay seem to act as a barrier that deflects the first push of the southbound warm currents off the coast, keeping ocean temps noticeably cooler. Anybody keeping a regular watch on temperature charts on various websites or fax pages should notice similar trends. In years gone by I have returned from trips in Spring at JB to water up to six degrees cooler back at home.
Off the rocks you can expect salmon, black drummer, bream and possibly a few tailor. Snapper are only an outside chance.
Luderick could be worth pursuing as very few people specialise in catching these little scrappers from the rocks around the Bay. Any diver will tell you that the number of blackfish around these parts is staggering and they seem to be prolific all year round. Fish caught from the ocean rocks are superior table fare when compared to the estuary-dwelling luderick. Lightly floured, well-bled and skinned luderick fillets seared in a pan with a little olive oil sure take some beating.
Sourcing some good weed might not be easy thanks to the ongoing drought. Unfortunately, some of the more popular weed-gathering creeks have dried up or become a bit stagnant and on the nose. Alternative baits include cabbage found along the rocks, bread, fresh nippers, quality prawns and small pieces of cunjevoi. These will all work.
Outside fishing for snapper, morwong and flathead has been reasonably productive leading up to this report, with plenty of boats bagging out on small to middling reds in particular. A few kingies may show up but the best king action will still be a month or two away.
Heading wide to find any sort of tuna would be a gamble but you’ve got to be in it to win it. Local grapevine reports are the best indicator, particularly where the longliners are currently fishing.
The state of the yellowfin tuna fishery is an absolute tragedy. Reports on albacore numbers were also virtually non-existent this year, with striped tuna not much better. I got to experience only the tail end of the once thriving run of yellowfin, and I count myself very lucky to partake in a cube trail that actually had some fish in it!
Estuary systems should start to spark up a little as the shallower sections of rivers warm. Fish like flathead should benefit from an increased metabolism and a desire to chase down a lure rather than wait for it to bounce in front their nose.
A few rivers have been fishing fantastically well for trevally on soft plastics. The hugely popular 3” Berkley Drop Shot Minnow in most colours and #3 Squidgy Jelly Prawn softies in both tail styles are the best patterns. Trevally are extremely flighty in the shallows and spook easily. Despite being timid to approach I find they smack a lure with gusto if you can get it in their path. One to two kilos of trevally is quite a handful around old rack posts or oyster-encrusted rock walls, especially on fine leaders and a wispy main line.
For the last six weeks big schools of salmon called the Moruya River home. The fish are still on the chew as I type but whether they will be present by the time you read this is up to you to explore. Estuary salmon in such numbers is something I have never experienced. Up to 10 boats a day fished for them, the pros netted them, people trolled through them and they still kept coming. You may have seen Captain Kev getting stuck into them with Rob Paxavanos on Fishing Australia on Channel 9 during August. We were still catching fat sambos two weeks after the show went to air, which certainly says something about their numbers!
The salmon did wise up though and spread out, preferring to be further upstream. The fish became a challenge to hook, requiring a more refined approach. Metal lures just didn’t produce the goods. Whitebait-imitating soft plastics and saltwater fly presentations were the only things that worked, and retrieves had to be slow and deep, much like deepwater breaming.
The river is still full of whitebait, so who knows – the salmon may hang in the river for some time. Hopefully the fish will decide to visit the estuary on a regular basis for years to come.
Warmer nights mean chasing a nocturnal mulloway is much more relaxing than it was in the freezing nights of Winter.
Ashley Hudson-Dawson gets the giggles over a lure-caught salmon. Salmon are a fish for the whole family and a true recreational species that deserve more respect than being netted for lobster pot bait.Reads: 737