It's not too difficult to come up with fishing reports at the moment. Just about everywhere is firing and catching a few fish is just a matter of finding the time and right conditions. Just about everywhere is firing with some great fishing on offer.
The local rocks have been firing over the past few months with blackfish, drummer, marlin and pelagics on offer. January also saw some of the best land-based marlin fishing in Jervis Bay for several seasons with quite a few fish from 100kg to 130kg taken from The Tubes.
To see boats lining up off The Tubes and anglers fishing the rocks was quite a sight and some days it must have been amazing that any fish was landed with the number of lines in the water. Over the holiday period there were probably more black marlin caught inside Jervis Bay that there were caught from boats at The Banks.
Some strong north-easterly winds and big seas had a bit to do with that but even so, The Tubes were firing. One of the best fish taken was a 131kg black by Rob Barrett, who also took a 110kg fish in January 2007.
Another big fish of 161kg was also taken at The Tubes but the angler's tackle broke in the dying stages of the fight and it had to be handlined in and then retrieved from the bottom by divers. If it had been legally fought and landed that fish would have been the heaviest black marlin ever caught from the rocks.
I understand the tackle failure was due to a reel clamp not being fitted around the winch fitting. Apparently the reel came loose and stayed connected only because it was clipped to a harness. With the rod-to-reel connection broken, the angler had no way of getting it back together and the fish slowly sank to the bottom.
Most of the local platforms have also been fishing well for blackfish. We've been out a few times in recent weeks to catch a feed and haven't missed out yet.
I still enjoy getting out on the rocks and fishing with a float and cabbage for blackfish. It's something I've done nearly all my life and a form of our sport that I truly love.
It's so far removed from fishing for sharks and marlin out wide and such a change of pace that it’s completely enjoyable. Those crumbed fillets aren't too bad, either, so it's something the whole family benefits from.
The rocks were also firing for pelagics with some nice kings taken on live baits but also some big schools of salmon hanging about and feeding on whitebait. This makes for some great spin sessions from the rocks and the action will still be going on through March and April.
The local rivers and estuaries copped a flogging over the holidays but produced some nice fish including jew, bream and flathead on plastics. As usual, it was the keen anglers who found some secluded water or fished early or late in the day that caught the best fish.
The Shoalhaven is still producing some nice jewies below Broughton Creek and all the way down to the Crookhaven Entrance. There are also some reasonable bass and estuary perch just about anywhere above the ski park. Local angler Jim Hefferan has been hitting it up after work whenever he gets the chance and recording some nice fish.
St Georges Basin has also been fishing quite well with flathead, bream, tailor, snapper and whiting hitting plastics, hardbodies and small poppers.
The local reds-on-plastics fishery has also been producing. Bruce and Craig Murphy got onto a patch of fish and had several trips that produced double-figure catches of reds to 3kg. It was some of the best snapper fishing the boys had experienced so you can bet they'll be ding a bit more of that when they can't get out game fishing.
Now's the time to be out chasing reds on plastics. Find some nice reefy territory around a bommie or reefy headland and fish in water from 5m to 15m deep with 100mm to 150mm plastics. Go for a head weight of around 7g to 10g with a 2/0 hook and fish the plastics slowly in the bottom half of the water column.
You'll catch a lot more fish by concentrating your efforts in the two weeks before a full moon. Once that moon gets to full, don't even bother fishing for reds with plastics.
The game season is in full swing now so you shouldn't have any trouble finding some big fish out wide. Things got off to a fairly slow start despite some 24° water in January.
A lack of bait was the major problem but things have improved with some solid striped marlin action.
A couple of highlights from January were an 18.5kg bull mahi mahi taken by 13-year-old Crystal Wietecki aboard Magic and a 338kg tiger shark on 15kg by Andrew Finney on Outcast. The tiger took just an hour to get back to the boat and half an hour to gaff and tail rope. Andrew had some video footage on his phone of Mitch Ryan swimming with the shark while it was still alive so it would be safe to say these guys are pretty crazy and show no fear when it comes to shark fishing.
You'll notice from the photo that Crystal's mahi mahi had a cookie cutter shark bite taken out of it. This is quite common in tuna but rarely seen on mahi mahi.
The fish was also infected with a parasite that resembled grains of rice and the flesh was inedible, which was a shame.Reads: 4333