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Bertrams or blackfish?
  |  First Published: December 2005



Almost all fishos are mad-keen boaties. Even if you fish only the beach or rocks, I’ll bet you dream of owning or fishing from a boat and if you own a boat I’ll bet you wish it was bigger or faster.

I’ve done a lot of boat fishing over the years and I’m always dreaming of a bigger boat but what I’ve got suits my budget and does the job so unless I win Lotto I’ll be stuck with the Cruisecraft for some time yet.

Just recently I joined the Shoalhaven Gamefishing Club. We spent last year chasing marlin and tuna out wide in my boat and it was quite enjoyable so I decided to give the game a full season and get serious. I’d like to tangle with a solid blue marlin but if that doesn’t happen then I’ll be more than happy to tag and release a few stripes and blacks as we did last year.

We’ll probably still have the Cruisecraft out regularly but I will be spending a bit of time fishing with another crew aboard Enforcer, Bertram35 owned and run by Steve Sharpe. Last year they took out the club tag-and-release trophy and they fish most of the local tournaments and Zone days.

We had our first trip at the start of October on a perfect day. There had been some yellowfin about and we were at the boat by 5.30 am with high expectations. The day couldn’t have been better with flat seas and no wind so we trolled out as far as the Drum Canyons and then drifted and cubed for about five hours without turning a reel. We saw one shark and then had a 45-mile trip home, tying up at 7.30 pm. Fourteen hours on the water and not a fish to show for it – welcome to game fishing!

We spent several hours working on the boat the previous day and a couple of guys fishing just 10 metres in front of us caught blackfish one after the other on weed. Some of the fish were almost a kilo and they ended up with a very tidy swimmer full of them.

At the end of our 14-hour day I couldn’t help but wonder who had the right idea and who was tucking into fresh fish that night .

RIVER BLACKFISH

Seeing those blackfish spurred my young bloke into action and the next week he was down fishing off the back of Enforcer with a float and weed. Along with a few mates they caught some blackfish and had a ball into the bargain, while I worked every day and dreamed of going fishing. Again I pondered who had the right idea and who was the idiot.

The Shoalhaven has been producing some very nice blackfish over the past few months with fish over a kilo common and quite a few about.

There are two distinct schools when it comes to estuary blackfish down here. The pensioners (well, mostly) fish during the day with floats and weed and the younger generation fish at night with squirt worms.

Both camps reckon theirs is the most effective method and I’m not buying into that argument. I have, however, recently started to get interested in chasing them with a float and weed.

I keep telling myself it’s just because they are about and within walking distance but some nasty people have suggested it’s because I’m getting old!

All of the usual Shoalhaven locations have been producing nice fish including the Comerong Island Ferry, Greenwell Point wharf, The Cannon, Bongers Point and the Crookhaven between the wharf and the club. If you’re a visitor to Greenwell Point just ask a local for directions.

At times the Anglers Rest Caravan Park has green weed along with floats and terminal tackle. McCallum’s in Nowra always has weed and a good selection of blackfish tackle.

If you decide to fish with squirt worms these can be pumped at Shoalhaven Heads and Terara and Numbaa at low tide. Locations that produce fish at night on squirt worms include Greenwell Point wharf and the Ballast Heap. St Georges Basin and Sussex Inlet are also producing blackfish in numbers.

BEECROFT QUANDARY

A lot of locals are asking what the go is at Beecroft Peninsula. A couple of years ago rock anglers were virtually kicked out of the entire peninsula when one half was made a marine park sanctuary zone and the other half was closed by the Department of Defence. Over many years the bombing range was neglected, with very poor dirt roads that got washed away when it rained and access was 4WD or walking only.

Now that it’s been closed it seems the Government has more than enough money to put roads right through there with road base and even street names – all in an area now off-limits to the public.

What ever happened to all those dangerous unexploded bombs that prevented the public being allowed in there for safety reasons? To say this has left a sour taste in the mouths of local land-based game anglers is huge understatement.

Anyone from the Government or Department of Defence care to write in and offer an explanation or at least update what’s next ?

While we’re on the subject of sanctuary zones, I was out in Jervis Bay a few weeks ago fishing for reds with soft plastics. It was blowing a good 25 knots and we were fishing on the edge of a sanctuary zone in the wind when a Waterways Officer on a PWC came over.

After inspecting the boat for safety gear he suggested we move around the corner so we could fish out the wind. I told him that would have us fishing in a sanctuary zone, which is illegal. His answer was, “Yeah, you might be right there.” You’ve got to wonder, don’t you?

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