What’s your New Year resolution for the 2008 fishing season? Catch a big jewfish, maybe a marlin? Or maybe just to get off the couch and go fishing a bit more often instead of watching the cricket?
For me it is all about kingfish this year. The past few years have been very ordinary to say the least so it is time to take the fight to them. I plan to do a lot more local trips off the rocks this year and not head to the North Coast in search of longtail tuna or cobia.
However, kingfish reports have been slow to kick into gear this season. The fish are there but nobody has really been getting into the thick of the action.
Reports of sensational tuna action, however, have been the talk of the town for months. In particular we have been experiencing one of the best runs of albacore in years.
While the albacore have been predominantly 4kg to 10kg, there have been a few of 15kg to 17kg to be had. What they have lacked in size they have more than made up for in numbers.
Many crews have reported so many fish that they were virtually unable to get the boat in gear with four lures set before all rods loaded up.
Rather than waste petrol, others chose to simply jig metal lures down deep and work soft plastics across the surface for their fish, not even bothering to establish a cube trail. Catches of 40 or more albacore per day per boat have been the norm.
The warmer currents of January will most likely see the albacore pushed much further south and replaced by the likes of striped and black marlin, yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.
The Clyde River has really been turning on some good fishing. Keen Moruya angler Andrew Badullovich recently took his brother Greg and mate Juy Cooper up the Clyde to see if he could put them onto their first jewfish.
Within 90 minutes the boys had one jewfish each, Juy’s went 18.5kg, Greg’s 10.7kg and Andrew’s 9.1kg – sensational by Clyde standards.
We can expect many more jewfish of this calibre over the next few years as the removal of commercial nets becomes a distant memory.
Bream continue to be worthwhile pursuing with many fish around a kilo encountered and flathead averaging 65cm to 75cm have also been on the prowl.
Spinning metal lures off the rocks should be a viable option now with some nice eddies of warm water pushing against the rocks. Salmon and small kingfish will be the most likely targets but bonito and frigate mackerel will also be a chance.
Lures from 35g to 75g are the standard on the South Coast and are generally fished off threadline reels. If you are looking for a nice quick reel for casting metals, I can vouch for the Daiwa Emblem 5500 as a top reel for the job and at a quite reasonable price. With 600m of 10lb Fins braid you stand a pretty good chance of success if something substantially larger takes a liking to your lure.
I have also been using knife jigs off the rocks, cast on a TSM4 Shimano overhead loaded with 15kg mono. While these lures are primarily designed for vertical jigging from a boat I have had reasonable success on legal-sized kingfish (65cm), not to mention raising some absolute monsters in the past few seasons. I will use them again this season.
They are frightfully expensive but if you keep the single hook on the top of the lure, as it is meant to be fished, they are fairly snag-free.
Using a good quality double to twisted double leader will ensure cast-offs are kept to a minimum and provide a decent chance at beating a big kingfish.
These lures are meant to be jigged, not just retrieved like standard metals. I usually throw the reel back into free spool at least three or four times during the retrieve and allow the lure to get back down to the bottom on each cast, trying to cover all of the water column.
This type of fishing is only suited to the deepest of rock platforms like Jervis Bay and the few other prominent headlands around Batemans Bay.
Tuna has been the buzzword around Batemans Bay with fish like this 45kg yellowfin on the shelf and canyons in good numbers.
Bass will be on fire this month in all the distant reaches of all the larger estuary systems.
Juy Cooper's 18.5kg Clyde river jewfish that fell to a live yellowtail.Reads: 1970