…or take up golf!
  |  First Published: January 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere and with fishing it can be tough to get those first few nice fish under your belt. Then, slowly you move on to bigger and better things as your experience and knowledge of the sport grows.

So for those of you taking up the sport over the next few weeks who don’t catch anything – give it away and take up golf!

Then again, fishing and not catching anything is still better than walking around in the trees and long grass looking for a little white ball, so if you read on it might help you get those first nice fish, because this is the time of year we live for.

Everything that swims is lining up to grab your offerings. It doesn’t matter what style of fishing you are into, there is something out there with your name on it.

We all know big is better and when there are lots of big fish, it doesn’t get any better.

Offshore the water is hot and so is the fishing. It’s hard to decide what to tackle first, but it’s hard not to chase the mahi mahi that hang around the traps, the FAD and the wave recorder.

There are plenty of smaller fish but when the current is really running hard and making the fishing a little tougher you can expect to find the bigger dollies. Just use bigger baits; the bigger the slimy mackerel you can get, the better.

The rat dollies can’t eat these bigger baits but they still harass them, thus drawing the attention of the bigger fish which generally don’t mess about, shouldering the little tackers out of the way and smashing your bait.


The other benefit of a big bait is that there are always larger predators close by so the probability of a marlin hook-up is pretty high.

If you just target marlin then big dollies are often the by-catch and places like Bandit and Wollongong reefs and the continental shelf will be pretty popular this month.

Striped, black and blue marlin will be available over coming weeks with a grand slam of all three a possibility.

Small yellowfin tuna are popping up out wide, grabbing small skirted lures and the odd skirt is going missing in the warm water as sharp-toothed wahoo show up in the current.

Depending on how hot the water gets and what the current brings, sailfish are a possibility, too. A few years back they were all over Bandit Reef, with even the snapper fishos hooking them on pillies.

I hooked what I thought was the smallest marlin I had ever seen and it turned out to be a sail of around 12kg.

If we get an extra big push of hot water from the north, we can see a few spotted mackerel or even a narrow barred Spanish.

Cobia another always manage to get in on the action over the next few weeks for a few lucky individuals, along with amberjack, larger samson fish, rainbow runners and trevally.

There is plenty of surface action with striped tuna, salmon, bonito, frigate mackerel, mackerel tuna and some small yellowfin chasing baitfish all along the coast. Just look for the terns, muttonbirds and seagulls.

Kingfish are still active in all the recognised spots. They showed up just before Christmas and have been growing bigger with every passing week.

The islands and Bass Point have been infested with rats and some larger fish while live baits and knife jigs worked on the deeper reefs are scoring better fish.

The deep reefs might get busy with all the boats dragging baits around for marlin so get out there early. The big kings bite best just on daylight.

Snapper fishos are scoring well with a few big reds poking about the shallow reefs and plenty of fish from just legal up to 2kg over most reefs and gravel patches. A berley trail of tuna will really get them going.

This is probably the best month on the calendar for just drifting over the sand and reefs. Big flathead are on every patch of sand with some great catches coming from the northern areas off Stanwell Park right up to Bolga.

On the reefs there are good numbers of mowies, pigfish, sweep, a few trag, leatherjackets and a lot of tailor on some of the shallow reefs.


The rockhoppers are in heaven this month with bream and trevally in the washes with salmon, bonito, mackerel tuna, tailor, frigate mackerel and small kingfish taking lures and pilchards off all the deeper ledges.

The live baiters will be busy on the rocks around Kiama, hoping to score a marlin. There are also big kings, mackerel tuna and a heap of hammerhead sharks off the same stones.

Good numbers of blackfish are showing in all the washes and if you just want some fun, the frigate mackerel are in all the bays and harbours.

Places like Wollongong Harbour breakwall, Bellambi wall and jetty, Shellharbour, Kiama Harbour and Beaky Bay at Bass Point get shoulder-to-shoulder with anglers tossing tiny lures on light tackle at these little speedsters as they rip in and out of the harbours. The fillets make great baits for jewies on the evening beach.

The beaches are fishing very well with school jewies all along the coast. Put in a bit of time and they will come.

Bream, flathead, salmon and some big tailor are on offer on just about every beach with a decent gutter.

If you have beach worms there are whiting and dart on every beach. Just work the shallow gutters until you find them or head to Windang, Port Kembla or Warilla beaches and look for the crowds.


The estuaries don’t get any better, with everything on the chew. Flathead are the main targets in Lake Illawarra and the Minnamurra River with the main channel in the lake the hot spot – but they are just about everywhere.

A nipper or squirt worm over any of the flats will score plenty of whiting, with the shallows around the lake entrance very popular.

Bream are around the bridges and in the feeder streams, with live prawns the killer bait. A bran berley and bread or small prawn pieces for bait will get you heaps of mullet and garfish.

There are heaps of prawns on the dark of the moon and tonnes of blue swimmer crabs all over the lake.


By the time you read this it will be illegal to catch or target mako sharks in all Commonwealth waters. Australia has a treaty with other countries whereby if any migratory species becomes threatened in another area and is put on a protected list, we will follow suit.

The Mediterranean has fished its population of makos to a dangerously low level, along with just about everything else. So here in Australia we must stop catching mako sharks to help the fish in the Mediterranean recover even though the Australian populations have absolutely no connection between the species in the Mediterranean.

You really have to ask yourself whether the numbskull politicians and their advisors in this country really have a clue. Don’t they listen or do they just like to look good on the world stage and bugger the people they are supposed to be looking after?

In theory it is not a bad idea, but this is one for common sense. Respected marine scientist Dr Julian Pepperell says there is no known connection between the makos of the Mediterranean and the Australian population and few people would have more info on the mako than Dr Pepperell.

If sailfish, marlin, kingfish, tuna, sharks or any migratory fish become threatened anywhere in the world, we will be banned from catching them in our waters even if our stocks are not threatened in any way.

We pay more every year to catch less and soon we will be banned from fishing altogether if some of the loony green fringe get their way.

They continuously harass the politicians and get listened to so we must respond louder. The only way to get through to our decision makers is send in the letters to Environment Minister Peter Garret and voice your disapproval.

It’s time to make a noise.

– Greg Clarke

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