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A true test of dedication
  |  First Published: July 2008



The past month has been a real test of dedication down this way. Most of the warm-water species have long moved on and it's taking a bit of ticker to get out and catch a feed or put a bend in a rod.

Not that last summer was all that memorable and probably the quietest gamefish season I can remember. The Banks hardly fired for the black marlin it’s renowned for and out wider the striped marlin were patchy at best.

There were very few mahi mahi hooked, not even the little rats that hang around the FADs or trap markers.

As I write the yellowfin are just starting to show up but no one has been out and done any damage due to a couple of weekends of bad weather. The yellowfin will be here, and hopefully in numbers and sizes, but until then we are just going to have to find some alternatives.

I've been playing around with a few options lately.

After three or four seasons of pretty full-on game fishing I decided to go back and fish the rocks for blackfish. I used to do a lot of that before I had boats and it's always been a reliable back-up when I needed a change from outside fishing or to get a bit exercise.

We've had a few trips south of Jervis Bay to a couple of my old regular haunts and they’ve been very enjoyable.

I haven't fished a couple of those platforms in five or six years but they're still producing blackfish and drummer. It's a lot more laid-back than marlin fishing but still very interesting and the payback comes in fresh blackfish fillets in egg and breadcrumbs for dinner.

The next option has been a little more involved. This Winter, when the currents slow down, we're going to have a go at deep-water bottom-bashing.

I'm putting some gear together but our first few trips had to be called off due to bad weather.

There are some excellent deepwater opportunities including blue eye, hapuku and gemfish to be had along or just over the continental shelf.

Some of the best grounds are up around the Kiama Canyons and down over the Drum Canyons.

This isn't easy fishing and I wouldn't suggest taking it up unless you have some offshore experience. Bottom fishing in 300m and 400m water is a little different from flathead drifting in 20m.

It's still early days but I'll report a bit more once we've had time to get out there and drop some kilo weights and 12/0 circle hooks. Should be interesting at least and hopefully we'll catch a few blue eye or gemfish for a feed or two.

Just for another change we're going trout fishing. I haven't seriously fished for trout for eight years so a trip to the Snowy Mountains should be good for the soul.

I've dug up the old neoprene waders and fly rods and we're making a family weekend of it, not sure why but I just felt the need to try something different for a while.

LOCAL OPTIONS

The good thing about fishing is that there are so many different facets that there's always something new to explore or revisit.

But the local fishing hasn't really been that bad that you need to be looking at new options. The game fish might be patchy but the bread-and-butter species are still on the go so let's have a quick look at some Winter options.

It's worth chasing bream on lures and I'd be looking at fishing St Georges Basin or Broughton Creek, both of which produce some thumper fish in Winter on hardbodies and plastics.

If you want a feed of blackfish then I'd be looking at the rocks south of Jervis Bay or if the seas and weather aren't obliging, how about pumping some squirt worms or small pink nippers and having a go in the Shoalhaven or Crookhaven rivers at night?

The old blackfish are very reliable standbys, especially over Winter.

If you want something a little larger that pulls harder, how about jewfish in the Shoalhaven River or off the beaches?

The river fishes well over Winter for some good jew and it's not too late to chase one off the beaches or even around the Comerong Island coal wharf.

We've caught fish to 13kg off the breakwall on plastics at night and it's only a matter of getting out there and putting the time in before you're successful.

Anywhere between the punt and Crookhaven Heads is worth a go in the river and you can anchor up and use fresh bait or drift and cast large plastics.

If you want some more plastic action, get outside and fish soft plastics over the inshore reefs for a red.

The slimy mackerel should have thinned out so you'll be able to get a cast in without hooking a slimy every throw and there are some good reds about – especially when the cuttlefish start to run.

Jervis Bay will also be worth a go for a red on a plastic and even a big Winter king on a live bait.

This month there should be some thumper kings in the Bay and under the cliffs so get out early and use live squid or big slimies for bait.

It will also be worth looking for a king out around The Banks this Winter. They're not around every year but we've had some awesome jigging action out there in June and July.

As you can see, Winter doesn't mean it's time to stop fishing or sit in front of the fire on a weekend. There are heaps of options for just about any weather conditions. You just have to think about it and have a go.

Images

1

Eisuke Kawakami from Yamashita Tackle in Japan getting stretched by a big bonito at The Banks.

2

Some nice blackfish from the rocks have made for a change of pace in the Finney household.

3

Craig Owen with an average Jervis Bay salmon. This fish grabbed a 25g Sniper lure cast into a whitewater wash.

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