Mahi Mahi Month
  |  First Published: February 2009

Mahi mahi seem to be everyone’s favourite catch these days. They taste great, fight hard, jump like a mad thing, and are dead easy to catch! So why wouldn’t they be a favourite, and right now is the best time to target them.

However, there is a slight hitch. Everyone wants to catch a whopper but there seems to be hundreds of smaller fish between every decent sized specimen. And now with a legal length of 60cm, some days you may catch plenty but none of them will be legal.

But don’t dishearten too soon. If the water is hot and the current is really boiling down, the school may all be whoppers. Just remember that you can only keep one, as the upper limit is one fish over 110cm. Anyway, one is more than enough at this size.

To catch the big ones, you need large live baits, like big slimy mackerel or yellowtail, so the smaller fish don’t knock them off all the time. Slow troll them or drift them around the FAD or floating debris where the dollies are holding. This can at times be hard as the better fish like it best when the current is really ripping, so you don’t move anywhere or go backwards when you slow troll or you could fly past the FAD, and out of the impact zone.

Despite the difficultly in technique, when it all comes together it is well worth it, especially when a 1-2m dolly blasts out of the water on hook-up, changing colours with every jump and giving you a tough fight on heavy tackle.

Dollies aren’t the only species to like hot water, ripping currents and big mackerel baits – Marlin and February go hand-in-hand. The blacks are out there over the close in reefs chasing baitfish, and they don’t mind a feed of mahi mahi around the FADs either.

Head out wider and there are striped marlin, and out over the shelf there is every chance of a big blue marlin. A couple have already been taken and more often than not they are over the 150kg mark so put away the light gear, put out the big lures and hang on.

The other exotics that you could run into at this time of the year are sailfish and wahoo. Sailfish pop up from time to time and like nothing better than grabbing a little Christmas tree when you are chasing bait. The wahoo have a tendency to snip the lure off and you don’t even know. Throw in a few juvenile giant trevally, some big eyes and a few rainbow runners and you have a real mixed grill.

Closer to shore there are plenty of kings getting about, but it can be difficult getting a legal one as that extra 5cm really cuts into the keepers available locally.

Bonito are schooling on the surface with salmon and tailor, while the frigate mackerel are zipping around the headlands and breakwalls and into the harbours giving everyone a bit of fun on light tackle and small lures.

Frigate mackerel fillets make great snapper baits and there are some nice reds over the inshore reefs this month. The 1-2kg fish are fairly common with a few big bruisers thrown in, and berley is essential for good catches. Berley also attracts little whaler sharks and a few hammers, which aren’t bad fun and good on the BBQ as well.

Good bags of trag, Samson, trevally, pigfish and mowies have come from Stanwell Park right down to Bombo, and it seems that every patch of sand is holding flathead at the moment.

The rocks are going well too. Bonito, salmon, tailor and kings of all sizes are taking lures and pilchards, and frigates are taking small lures. The good thing about frigates is you can spin them up and get them in quick then feed them back out on the game tackle for big kings, or on the deeper ledges down around Kiama for marlin. Even if a king or marlin doesn’t eat it, there is always a hungry hammerhead in the area looking for a stray frigate.

The beaches are as good as they get, with plenty of whiting along with a few good bream. Throw a few plastics about and should pick up a few good flathead and salmon in the gutters, and good-sized tailor during the evenings.

School jews are about but you will have to put in the time in the usual spots with fresh baits and hope a big fella comes your way.

The estuaries are also at their peak with flathead everywhere in both the lake and Minnamurra. Whiting are in good numbers around the entrance with summer bream really starting to get moving.

In the creeks and over the weed beds there are heaps of mullet and garfish, and good blackfish are around the edges of the weed beds taking squirt worms and green weed.

So if you can’t catch a fish somewhere this month you are just not trying! But do make the most of it as this may be the last summer you get to fish the entrance to the lake, or around the islands or Bass Point or numerous other places along the Illawarra coast line.

The marine parks with their sanctuary zones are coming and, as with all the parks we have seen so far in the State, the areas are already set in concrete and we will get them whether we like it or not. Imagine no fishing from the entrance of the lake up to the drop-off or being excluded from the islands or around Bass Point, Bellambi and the northern reefs. They say they only want a small portion of the coast for the sanctuary zones but there are only a few spots that fish well most of the time and these are the spots that they want.

As yet I haven’t seen any scientific data that supports the introduction of sanctuary zones to certain areas and even less data on results from the present sanctuary zones in force that shows that they actually do what they say they do. I have seen sensational results from the removal of nets from various waterways with amateur anglers still having a free run; St George’s basin is a spectacular example.

I work hard all week and pay a bloody lot of taxes on just about everything, including a fishing license, and soon there will be nowhere for me to have a bit of time off to go and have a fish and catch something.

However, we can do something! Mr Campbell is my local state politician and when the next election comes he has now lost my vote. A polly will sell their mum for votes so just vote them out so we can keep on fishing.

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