This has to be my favourite time of the year: There are heaps of pelagics and game fish around and we've been out having a go at every opportunity.
St Georges Basin is firing for exceptional flathead and bream along with some thumper whiting. Most local anglers are fishing a combination of plastics and hardbodies and even some mini-poppers.
Flathead to 85cm are being caught and released regularly and some good bream around a kilo are being taken also from what has really become one of the best estuary fisheries on the South Coast.
The Basin Lure and Fly Club is making the most of the incredible fishing with regular catch-and-release comps. Compared with what St Georges Basin was like five years ago, this is really a credit to NSW Fisheries and local anglers.
The offshore scene will be well and truly under way by now so if you plan on catching a marlin this Summer then get out there right now. There was a heap of bait out along the continental shelf line back in December and the game fishing just got better each week.
The water is hovering around 22° to 23° with the odd patch up to 24°. The usual locations will be firing including the Kiama, Drum and Jervis Bay canyons but if you find a bait school anywhere along the shelf line, pull up and fish a couple of bridled live slimy mackerel.
Most boats normally drift or slowly troll around the bait school with two baits out, one up on top and the other down deep off a downrigger or with a breakaway 6oz sinker on a rubber band. We use 14/0 Mustad Demon circle hooks on a 6m trace of 200lb to 300lb pound Ande Pink or Momoi Extra Hard.
We fish 24kg and 37kg bent-butt stand-up outfits with a harnesses and gimbals.
The heavy tackle serves two purposes. The first is to get the fish in nice and fast so it can be tagged and released in good condition. You can have a lot of fun with 10kg and 15kg tackle on marlin but the fights usually go well past an hour and with 10kg can be several hours long.
The heavy tackle also keeps the fish close to the boat and prevents any long runs. This saves a lot of time but also gives photographers the chance to get some jumps shots within distance of a 70mm to 200mm lens.
In closer to shore, The Banks is firing with black marlin. There have been a heap of slimies attracting the usual run of inshore blacks along with some big kings. The blacks will be around 60kg to 90kg and if you spend enough time fishing live slimies around The Banks you'll be sure to hook one sooner or later.
The best advice I can give is to keep away from the Main Hump and the traffic jam of boats that hang close to it. Hook a fast black in the middle of that and your chances of landing it are halved.
Fish the fringes of the pack so that if you do hook a fish you can at least hope that it runs clear and gives you a chance to fight it without having to dodge anchor ropes, other lines or boats.
February is also a great time to get out after work and fish the arvos and evenings. There's a heap of after-work options to be enjoyed including bass at Flat Rock or the upper Shoalhaven, jewies in the Shoalhaven, flathead at St Georges Basin, squid or snapper in Jervis Bay or even chasing a red over the inshore reefs with plastics or floaters.
We normally get everything ready the night before and get away from work early to take advantage of daylight saving. It’s a great way to unwind after work and we normally bring home a feed of fresh snapper or squid.
0I recently spent a couple of days fishing in Jervis Bay with some Japanese visitors from Maria Tackle. Eisuke Kawakami and Yasushi Kawahara are the Maria Fishing Team and their role is to promote Maria and Yamashita tackle around the world. Good job, eh?
E J Todd has recently started distributing Maria and Yamashita tackle so it was a good opportunity to bring the guys out to show them the Australian market, how we fish and what we catch. Despite two days of rain and southerly winds, we managed a few fish including trevally, kingfish, salmon and squid. The plan had been to fish The Banks but strong winds and rough seas prevented that.
Yamashita squid jigs are fairly well-known in Australia. These guys produce an enormous range of jigs with colours from lumo to natural and a range of heavy and light models for various depths.
To see the Maria guys fishing these jigs was an eye opener. They impart a completely different action through rod tip movement. When I first saw Eisuke working the rod tip I thought he'd fouled the bottom but he outfished me 3 or 4 to 1 on squid and I spend a lot of time chasing them. I'll be practising that whipping rod tip motion.
Maria mini jigs and assist hooks caught a heap of fish. These are basically 40g to 100g metal jigs nose-rigged with a small hook attached to a Kevlar cord in much the same fashion as jigs for kingfish and samson.
Not much work has been done in Australia with mini jigs but I can see them becoming popular, particularly around the inshore reefs and bays.Reads: 1861