If you plan on holidaying in the Batemans Bay region over the Summer break, the signs are pointing to some great fishing, no matter where you decide to wet a line.
Many visiting anglers will be looking at taking a chartered fishing trip to chase some big, fast and angry fish. December heralds the beginning of some great striped marlin fishing either side of the continental shelf.
Yellowfin and striped tuna will still be about with all the usual varieties of sharks following them. Later in the month or early January the black marlin numbers should hopefully follow.
Stop in and see the local tackle shops for the latest info on who’s getting the big ones. Daniel at Batemans Bay Bait and Tackle and Rodney from Harry’s Bait and Tackle will happily steer you in the right direction.
If the big game scene sounds too much like hard work, other charter boats cater for bottom fishing for tasty table fish like snapper, flathead, morwong and other assorted reefies.
Kingfish, too, are on the go from the inshore reefs with a few nice fish of 6kg and 8kg being taken already.
Big schools of slimy mackerel have been massing around deep rock platforms, bommies, islands and outer reefs for a few months now just waiting for the warm water and marauding packs of kingfish to show up and cause some mayhem.
The past four LBG seasons around the Bay have been pitiful so again I’ll hold my breath before I talk up the possibilities. Instead I’ll put my little Polycraft to work when the weather plays fair and tow a few live baits behind the boat while I fish plastics for snapper.
Chasing snapper on plastics with an electric motor is also ideal for keeping a big live bait pulsing away under a float or balloon, or simply free swimming.
Reds on plastics has been so effective on the South Coast over the past six months that I doubt I will ever bait-fish for them from my boat again. You have to adopt a dedicated approach to succeed, though, spending hours at a time casting and retrieving until you find some willing fish, but it is well worth it when you hit that red pay dirt.
My most recent trips have delivered fish from 3kg up to a plastic PB of 6kg. Some days you can pull up to your chosen spot and hit ’em first cast; other days you have to try all the tricks you have.
Try different depths, points, bays, bommies, islands or sound out a prominent drop-off. Different plastics on different weights can also make a difference.
The parallels between bream on softies and snapper are too similar to be coincidental so the moral is to think bream on a bigger scale.
Beach fishing should also be hotting up with whiting a real holiday favourite.
Catching your own beach worms is the way to go for whiting but it takes some patience to learn. I am hopeless when it comes to just using my fingers but with the help of some worming pliers I can get enough worms in the bucket for a session with the kids.
Calm days make life easier as the worms don’t like to pop their heads out too far in the wind. Placing the bait in a doubled-up piece of stocking helps, too, as the worm grips it and struggles to let go for just long enough for the pliers to get a grip.
Some good catches of whiting have already been taken by locals on the big beaches and as the season progresses they will only get better.
Tailor have been pretty quiet for several months but they should now be starting to hit their straps.
This year’s estuary run of yellowfin bream started a month earlier than anticipated and they dispersed quickly throughout the system. Bream spinning has been a little disappointing with plenty of water between fish and the average size well down for this time of year.
When you do find a patch of fish it is almost a sure bet that they will be hunting prawns as there are stacks of them flicking about the shallows. Some of the prawns are huge so it shouldn't come as any surprise to hear that surface popping is the method of choice for success.
Estuary perch have been plentiful and of impressive sizes for the Clyde, with 35cm fish the average and a few crackers to 44cm range released.
EP numbers have been quite widespread. In the one day they were caught in the racks at the powerlines, in the deep Nelligen bends and up in the backwaters around Cockwhy Creek.
Surface, sub-surface and deep presentations all did the trick. I'm sure you'll agree it’s a really good sign for a slow-growing fish in a heavily-fished waterway.
Flathead are in their element with the best fish lately being released by James Gale. It was estimated at 5kg but was only 75cm long, the fattest flattie I have ever seen for its length.
A few school jewies are also taking plastics. I recently pinned a 5kg one in only two metres of water and did it turn on the fireworks as it bolted to the middle of the river.
Bass in the upper reaches will also be worth a look. A recent outing around Shallow Crossing revealed hundreds of baby bass of 5cm to 10cm hanging around tree roots so the rains of late Winter seem to have allowed the big breeders an easy passage to and from the salt. The cicadas will be screeching their noisy tunes so break out those surface lures.
If you are travelling these holidays take care on the roads and have a great time on the water.
Roy Willis hit the mountains for a change of scene and scored this lovely 2.2kg brown trout.
Daniel Radosavljevic of Batemans Bay Bait and Tackle scored this 15kg school yellowfin on a bibless minnow recently fishing with Aspro Charters.
Popping the racks with a 2"Berkley Power Hawg and home-made popper head produced this 34cm bream that was hunting prawns on the surface.Reads: 1937