Water unseasonably warm
  |  First Published: July 2009

Great things are happening on the South Coast at present, with numerous fishing fronts firing.

Lingering warm water is really making this Winter a unique time to be out there. On the continental shelf we have still been experiencing 20° water and 19° inshore.

Normally we should be down to 15° degrees or less by now with many species in virtual shut-down mode.

However, anglers casting plastics for snapper have been scoring kingfish around 70cm along with the usual bust-ups from larger models.

Traditionally August would see a trend towards waning snapper action but this year I expect snapper numbers and size to be excellent right through to October, if the water remains decent.

The cuttlefish run, too, started later than normal and I have long believed the link between water temps 17° to be the catalyst for the best inshore snapper action, set off by the cuttlefish breeding rituals.

For the best chance of hooking a big red, simply look for sea birds and dolphins feeding on the dead carcasses floating on the surface and cast strips of cuttlefish or soft plastics towards them.

Exercise some stealth and caution approaching the cuttlefish ‘floaters’ because big snapper will be feeding off them in plain view and will easily be spooked.

If you are confined to the rocks, then distance casting with overhead tackle is basically the only choice you have.

If you see cruising dolphins within casting range I strongly suggest casting your bait directly behind them because snapper at this time of year will follow them in anticipation of the mammals nailing an unsuspecting cuttlefish.

Having over 5kg of snapper slam your bait or lure directly behind a dolphin’s tail is an amazing experience that seems to defy logic, being the fish-eating machines that they are.

Some cracking striped tuna have been captured off the rocks on spin tackle lately, with fish to 4kg providing fantastic sport.

There have been so many big stripies offshore that it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that a few are straying close enough to catch off the stones.

I just hope the action continues for a while rather than petering out to the fleeting, sporadic tuna runs we usually get.

The odd decent kingfish has been prowling the rocks, too, so land-based game fishing is still a very viable option and the Winter rocks will most likely be almost angler-free.

I recently witnessed a slow-moving 12kg kingfish nudging through weeds at my feet in gin-clear water, I guess in search of squid – an amazing sight.

Add to that the distinct possibility of hooking a small mako shark and there is enough on offer to have a go.


The continental shelf and the canyons continue to produce sensational tuna action with yellowfin to 40kg, albacore to 22kg and an abundance of big stripies and tiny frigate mackerel.

Some crews have even been bagging out on small mahi mahi despite the FAD having been long removed for Winter.

Cubing has been the go when the westerlies have been keeping the seas calm and will save you substantially in fuel costs.

Our most recent effort resulted in a double hook-up on 10kg albacore on trolled divers 14km short of our destination, so we immediately changed plans and set about establishing a cube trail.

Seeing the fish were of a sporting size, I decided to use a 10kg outfit for cubing and quickly added another albie to the icebox.

Half an hour later, another fresh frigate cube was snaffled but the opening run was seriously quick and wasn’t looking like ceasing with over 200m melting off the spool. Twenty minutes into the fight, Rowan hooked a fish yellowfin close to 40kg on 24kg and boated it 15 minutes later.

Over an hour later, I was questioning my sanity and freaking out that I’d elected to use a 40lb fluorocarbon leader but it performed perfectly without so much as a scuff and close to 40kg of yellowfin joined Rowan’s in the icebox – even if the lid now had no chance of being able to close.

Meanwhile, 200m north of us, Matt and Lyle had boated a pair of 28kg tuna and managed to have six other hook-ups go awry.

I can’t wait for the next cubing trip but I cannot say whether the 10kg outfit will be part of the plan!


In the Clyde River, the best year on jewfish in more than a decade continues to roll on. Fish to 15kg have been witnessed following lures under the bridge lights but pulled hooks have been pretty common.

Strangely, the daytime soft plastic jewfish have been really scarce this year, with all the action taking place in the dark.

Catching some fresh squid is a great start to a nocturnal assault, but a live bait is still a pretty good back-up plan and, of course, lures are always worth a throw.

Netters working the Moruya River have been getting some monster tailor averaging 3kg, along with a number of good jewfish.

Many of the tailor were reported to be lousy with rec-anglers’ hooks hanging from their mouths so it may be worth adding some wire if you are fishing the Moruya.

Further south, reports of tailor to 6.5kg have been filtering through the grapevine so make sure you are geared up for the challenge.

It's still cubing time on the South Coast with 'fin and albacore both on the go.

When the ocean flattens out, it is a great time to set a cube trail for tuna.

Striped tuna have been encountered off the rocks for the dedicated angler willing to put in the time.

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