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Red time on the south coast
  |  First Published: October 2004



IT’S OCTOBER already – one of my favourite months for snapper.

Right now is reddie time on the south coast as water temperatures make their way up to 17-18C and the snapper get ready to spawn. If you can’t get out and find a decent red from the rocks or out of a boat, you should give fishing away and take up another hobby! The past few months have been good for snapper with most anglers getting amongst fish to 3kg on a regular basis within a few kilometres of the coast. The odd better fish has been taken as well, with a few 5kg and 6kg specimens turning up. I reckon if July to September produced a few fish then October should be absolutely firing.

Finding reds is usually the hard part so be prepared to look in close or out wide and find a bit of current running south and water temperatures around 17-18C. If it’s a bit colder, don’t stress out – we were catching snapper in 15C water that was thick with dark green slime back in August. Obviously that’s not the best sort of water to fish, but it goes to show that as long as you find the best temperature you can and there’s bit of current from the north, you’ll at least be in with a chance.

Depending on the current, the fish may be in close or out wider so if you hear of fish being taken don’t ask where but in what depth. Find that same depth over gravel around a bit of reef with a some current and you’ll be odds-on to get a few by anchoring up, berleying and fishing floaters.

River Firing

I don’t need to tell anyone that now is flathead time! The Shoalhaven River and St. Georges Basin will be in full swing by the time you read this, with fish to 5kg being caught.

This month and next will be the peak period for big lizards so don’t be scared to use large lures. We had good success on 100mm Squidgies last season but I’ve got plans to fish that big and even larger this year in deep water and drop-offs. We caught a few big lizards while chasing jew with large plastics so my tip is this – if you want that elusive 5kg croc, go big on lures and fish 15kg leaders. Those big fish think nothing of inhaling plastics right down their throats. There’s nothing worse than losing a big fish and it’s even worse to see it get away with a lure still stuck in its throat.

While on the subject of big lizards, I recently had a conversation with a guy who was quite happy after having been told by some jerk how to cook big flathead so they weren’t tough like a thong. He was quite looking forward to trying it out now that he had a reason to keep any big flathead he caught. I just shook my head in disbelief. The reason experienced anglers let their big flathead go is because they are breeding females; it’s just the responsible thing to do to ensure the future of any fishery and our sport, not just because they aren’t worth eating. Some people just never see daylight do they?

The Good Old Days

A good mate of mine recently turned 50 and we had a bit of a party with his mates and relatives who are all keen fishos. I’ve fished on and off for 20 years with some of these guys and a few of them used to pro fish with rods and reels out from Greenwell Point. We had a great time reminiscing about what the fishing used to be like back then, when you could just go and troll up a wahoo in the early morning at The Banks. Whatever happened to those days? Many recreational anglers are quick to blame the pros for the decline in fish stocks but the pros never targeted wahoo, so where did they go?

We also had a good time exchanging tales about chasing yellowfin at The Banks. Days when you could go out and catch a half a dozen fish to 70kg in an afternoon… days when you could troll up a striped tuna or frigate for a marlin bait within a few minutes… days you’ve just about got to go the shelf to find a stripy and they all seem to be big…

It all got me thinking about where we’ll be in another 20 years. For a start I reckon commercial net fishing will be a memory, and while we may all still be catching fish I reckon what we bring home to eat will be very limited by bag and size limits. I keep telling my young bloke to forget about the girls and cars and keep fishing because he’ll look back in 20 years and remember how good the fishing was now, just like we did at the birthday party.

Rod Security

Rod security in boats wasn’t something I put much thought into until recently. We do a bit of trolling over Summer and Autumn but nothing heavy like dragging plastic around on 24kg outfits. Most of our trolling is done with 10kg or 15kg jig sticks or double-handed plug rods connected to small skirted lures or Rapalas. I’ve thought about clipping these outfits to the rod holders while trolling but never got around to until I lost an outfit overboard. We weren’t trolling at the time. In fact, were really doing nothing. The story goes:

I had a spare Saturday arvo recently so decided to take my wife and daughter out in the boat for a fish. Conditions were great with a flat sea and a light breeze so we headed out to Nowra Hill for a look. We found a nice patch of gravel so I decided to do a drift before anchoring up. I rigged Christine up with a bottom outfit and baited it up for her. Once she was organised I reached up and grabbed another outfit out of the rocket launcher to fish with. As I lifted it clear the handle of the threadline reel caught under the outfit next to it and lifted it out and straight over the side in a split second.

I heard and saw the splash but it landed out of reach and unfortunately by the time I grabbed the net it was too far gone and sinking fast. It sank that fast out of view that I would have had no hope trying to dive after it so all I could do was say a few choice words and watch it vanish into 40m of water. I’ve got a GPS waypoint of where it is but I don’t hold much chance of getting it back, and even if I do the reel probably won’t be worth repairing.

So what was the outfit? My Shimano Stella 4000 and a Loomis Drop Shot rod – ouch! The week after that incident saw me fit cords and clips to the rod holders in the boat for whenever we are trolling and you can be sure I’ll be extra careful when removing rods from the rocket launcher in future!
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