The big news down here was the arrival of some massive southern bluefin tuna. Unfortunately they didn’t make their way up north as far as Shoalhaven anglers would have liked but a few fish to 100kg were taken off Jervis Bay and Kiama.
Those fish were taken between 30 and 40 miles off the coast and the fish further south, at Bermagui and Merimbula, were also that distance offshore.
To see fish of that size within reach of game fishers was a great thing and one that many South Coast regulars had been predicting for some time now.
There have always been rumours about big bluefin over Winter and several seasons back Jervis Bay boat Juzrah actually got some one day wide of JB. From memory they had a triple hook-up on bluefin and landed two, including a 120kg bruiser caught by Brian Aulsebrook.
Of course, trying to find those fish anything up to 50 miles offshore is not an easy task. You can spend lot of time and fuel money looking but without some inside information, you’ll struggle.
You might strike it lucky and find a school of fish and hook one on the first exploratory trip but that’s a hell of a big ocean out there and you’ll soon find that out when you head out and try to find a highly migratory fish like southern bluefin.
Most of the anglers who were successful this season got location info from longliners who had hooked bluefin, or saw them at least. That and by studying sea surface temperature charts.
Once a few got caught it was easier for other boats to head out and find them but not everyone caught fish every day.
It was far from a bluefin festival down there from what I heard, but some big fish were caught and many boats were lucky enough to come across a school of bluefin and experience multiple hook-ups which must have been staggering.
One boat that was successful on the bluefin out of Kiama was Shellharbour boat Benchmark, skippered by Shane Ashton.
In mid-July with Bermagui going off in the two previous weeks, the guys on Benchmark headed out wide – very wide. They ended up 50 miles off Kiama, trolling in several thousand fathoms, and it paid off big time with a 99.2kg bluefin on 37kg stand-up tackle.
That fish was the only strike for the day and came on a Pakula Sprocket. After a howler first run, the fish threw in the towel and was boatside in 20 minutes.
The two hooks were right down its throat and jammed in there, which may have had something to do with that.
Most guys I spoke to about bluefin agreed that they certainly didn’t fight anywhere near as hard as a big yellowfin.
This Winter also saw some reasonable kingfish action at the Sir John Young Banks, although nothing like what we saw in 2006. This year there were smaller fish averaging 60cm to 80cm – still a lot of fun on lighter jigging gear.
Some better fish were around earlier but by July they’d averaged out a bit.
Earlier in the season a few mates got worked over on 80lb braid by some thumpers and there were also some better fish taken out on The Block for those who went a little further out.
As usual it was pretty crowded out there on a good day but I must admit we had some fun and caught a feed each trip, which was very welcome in Winter.
It was also great to see so many recreational anglers jigging and hooking up.
What a great facet of our sport jigging is! Your arms and back ache for days after a long session but I just can’t get enough of it.
As I write, the yellowfin and albacore are just starting to show up out wide. Autumn and Winter were just about a write-off so here’s hoping that Spring will produce a few tuna to play with.
The few that were taken over winter averaged 25kg to 30kg for the yellowfin with a few albacore to 15kg.
There were some thumper albies taken further south and I heard of fish to 30kg off Tathra and Bermagui, although with southern bluefin to 150kg they barely rated a mention.
If the tuna don’t turn up in numbers, the makos will for sure and I reckon they may even be sniffing around out there by now.
The Spring makos have just about become an institution on my boat VooDoo these days.
We have some great fun with them and each season the fish are getting bigger and our line classes are going down.
We’re going to concentrate on 8kg and 10kg tackle this season and just tag them on 15kg. I’ve already started getting some frozen berley mince together and we’ve got a heap of striped tuna for bait so I can’t wait for some shark action.
Of course, if something a little slower is more your style there will be some reds around in close around Currarong and out on The Shallows and also in Jervis Bay.
JB fished very well for snapper this Winter with some very good fish taken on soft plastics.
As Spring approaches those fish will still be hanging around Long Nose and Plantation points. Put the time in and you’ll catch reds near structure on floaters and plastics.
Out around Currarong and Culburra, you can anchor up and fish floaters down a berley trail in deeper water of 25m to 30m or toss plastics around in the shallower stuff near structure and reef.
Fish the tide changes and use your sounder to find the right areas.
Next month the Shoalhaven River and St. Georges Basin will start to produce some big flathead on plastics.
The Basin fished well over Winter with some very nice bream and tailor taken in July. They’ll still be around in Spring so if bream and flathead are your elixir then get out there and toss some rubber about.
Nowra angler Nicholas Reay fishing Pejar Dam at Goulburn.
Sam Owen with his 99.2kg southern bluefin caught 50 miles wide of Kiama on Shellharbour boat Benchmark.
Elspeth Finney up tight on a kingfish at The Banks. June and July produced a lot of kingfish from 6kg to 8kg, especially on jigs.
Shane Croot with a 147kg mako on 8kg line caught in late June. There should be more out there this month.Reads: 2033