The bluefin hangover
  |  First Published: September 2009

October will bring some warmer weather and water – and hopefully a few more active fish.

The flathead will be starting to move around in St Georges Basin and the Shoalhaven, along with some bass and bream.

The rocks should start to hot up with blackfish, drummer and snapper and the inshore pelagics will be about, with salmon and maybe some bonito chasing baitfish off the beaches and rocks.

At the moment everyone is still getting over the southern bluefin tuna run of July and August.

One day I had a call from Craig Murphy, of the Caribbean 40 Dad’s Boat, which caught a 130kg striped marlin on a lure and hooked a thumper of a bluefin on 15kg that they fought for over three hours and lost in the dark right at the boat. Several other fish to 130kg were also taken by Kiama and Wollongong boats and it was on for young and old that day.

And I was stuck in Gosford at a NSW GFA meeting with no hope of getting out fishing.

To make matters worse, I also got a call from my son Andrew wanting to borrow my boat the next day to go and chase a bluefin.

I reluctantly agreed so Andrew and Adam Symonds took VooDoo out wide in the same spot that Dad’s Boat had hooked their fish the day before.

We drove back from Gosford without being able to contact them because they were out too wide and didn’t hear from them until 5pm when they got back to the continental shelf, within mobile phone range. They had bluefin of 32kg and 43kg, taken on 24kg tackle, VooDoo’s first bluefin and theirs as well.

The following week I was in Sydney for work and got another call from Craig Murphy about going on Dad’s Boat for a mid-week bluefin trip.

We headed north-east out from Greenwell Point to where the fish had been hooked the weekend before. As the water rose to just under 19° we spotted a few birds hovering and headed towards them.

Half-way there we had a double hook-up on lures and kept moving, eventually ending up with a quadruple hook-up on 24kg and 37kg tackle.

With some good boat driving and a little luck we boated the four fish, between 32kg and 46kg. The four anglers on the rods all caught their first southern bluefin and several Shoalhaven GFC club records were created.

The Finneys did quite well, with Andrew, Elspeth and I all landing a bluefin within a week in late July before they disappeared.


While the bluefin were a nice distraction it was very notable that the yellowfin and albacore were few and far between.

Autumn and Winter were dismal for both species. We caught two albacore on Dad’s Boat the day we got the bluefin but they were only by-catch taken on 6” and 8” tuna lures late in the afternoon. The following weekend a 69kg yellowfin was taken out from Greenwell Point, but nothing else.

The Sir John Young Banks and the Block and Cheese produced some good kingfish in July and August. There was nothing big but most days anglers with live baits or jigs bagged out on fish around 70 cm with the specimen to 80cm or 90cm.

We had a couple of good days on The Banks jigging, which was good fun and the first time my daughters had jigged kings.

As Spring started to roll around the makos turned up in force so we can’t really complain about the blue-water scene.

August and September produced some outstanding mako action out on the shelf so we were very busy and happy.

There could be a few yellowfin and albacore around by now but I’m not making any predictions. I have heard, however, that there were a heap of albies down around Bermagui in late August so here’s hoping they head north in Spring.


The inshore scene was also a bit patchy over late Winter and early Spring with the odd red around.

Some anglers managed to find a few in Jervis Bay over Winter but the inshore scene certainly didn’t live up to last Winter or my expectations.

Scott Sharpe from Culburra Tackle got onto a few reds in August but he was among the few.

Hopefully there should be a few around as you read this and the water has warmed a little. I really had my heart set on some reds this Winter but it just never happened for us.

We had to make do with kingfish pieces in beer batter, which wasn’t too much of a sacrifice.



Elspeth Finney with a 2kg morwong taken on floating bait from a reef off Currarong.


Adam Symonds with a 43kg southern bluefin tuna taken 30 miles off Kiama from the absent author’s boat.


Rebecca Finney with a solid little albacore taken 30 miles wide of Greenwell Point while chasing southern bluefin.


Craig Owen getting stretched on 80lb braid by a kingfish at The Banks.

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