Shark time offshore
  |  First Published: February 2009

After enduring the traditional foul weather for the Christmas and New Year period, more settled weather has allowed many anglers access Bass Strait to see what’s biting.

The water temperature is still well down on what is expected and as such fishing has been a little on the slow side. In January we had 40-knot southwesterly winds that continued for a few days, but prior to that we experienced 18oC temperatures.

With the warmer water, mako and thresher sharks have been recorded in consistent numbers. Most are 20-30kg, but these are ideal for either first time shark fisher or those looking for some quality flake to take home. Blue sharks have been very scarce, with only one that I know of being hooked and released.

The latest craze of trolling for thresher sharks has not only been practised at Portland. Central coast game fishers have been putting runs on the board as well, with Matt Carroll of Ocean Grove nailing one recently of around 80kg. The same day another angler boated a similar-sized fish after only five minutes on the troll. As is the case at Portland, many of these fish are being foul hooked in the tail that, apart from negating the true fighting ability of these great fish, sees most come to the boat totally spent. Thus the chance of their successful release is limited.

A new approach should perhaps be initiated, and my suggestion is either the use of circle hooks, or at least single J-hooks in the minnow lures being used. Alternatively, a switch-bait method could be adopted where hookless lures are trolled. Once a tail strike is observed, a switch to a well-presented live bait on a circle hook could be made. Not only would this effect a clean hook-up, but switch-baiting can be one of the most exciting methods to fish for any species.

Bottom fishing offshore has not been that fantastic lately. Patches of quality flathead have been available but have been inconsistent.

Pinky snapper have arrived on the shallower grounds, along with some very nice whiting in sand gutters in depths from 4-10m. By-catch in these areas has included pike and some monster silver trevally.

There have been a few reports of school sharks in close as well, with Michael Pinney’s 1.7m specimen from Portsea one of the larger fish recorded thus far.

Yellowtail kingfish have been absent but, with the increased temperatures, should start to make a welcome appearance in this region; perhaps soon after the arrow squid numbers start to increase. As with the kings from Portland, hot weather often holds the key to whether these hoodlums will be actively feeding or not. Taking particular note of moon phases will also increase angler’s chances, with the lead up and waning of both the full and new moons being preferred.

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