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Head out for marlin
  |  First Published: January 2010



I’ve always considered February, March and April to be the best all-round months on the South Coast so this now will be as good as you’ll get it. That means it’s time to get out and have a go – even if you only fish a few times a year.

The game scene is at its best at the moment with warm water and a heap of bait out wide.

If you want to see or hook a marlin, now’s the time to head wide and drag a few lures around or slowly troll a live bait.

You’re likely to find striped and black marlin out on the continental shelf and maybe even the odd blue. The water looks good and the bait’s there.

There are usually some big mahi mahi hanging around the trap floats and floating debris so if you see anything floating about, head over and do a few laps around it.

A good mahi mahi is always a great by-catch when trolling for marlin and they taste great, so look after them after capture.

In closer, The Banks and Mount Fuji are well worth soaking a live bait for a black marlin. Last season produced a few fish with several thumpers hooked and lost after monumental battles on 15kg and 24kg tackle.

Gavin McCallum from Nowra hooked up on 24kg tackle at The Banks right next to us one morning and we never saw their boat for four hours as they chased a big fish almost out to the shelf.

The wind-on loop connection finally gave way after four hours and the crew were shattered after having the fish just out of tagging range a few times during a very tough battle. Those big blacks take some stopping even on 24kg stand-up tackle.

ROCKS FIRE

The rocks will be firing, too, although the Currarong Peninsula isn’t anything like it used to be years ago when I fished it.

These days most of the front platforms are closed due to the entire area being a bombing range and possibly having unexploded ordnance. Other areas are no-take sanctuaries in the Jervis Bay Marine Park.

The choice of fishable platforms is very limited these days but that hasn’t stopped some very good fish being taken over the past decade. The Tubes, inside Jervis Bay, still fishes well over January and February with big black marlin having been taken in recent years.

Autumn also produces some big kings inside Jervis Bay and out around The Eaves and Big Beecroft.

I spent the late 1970s through to the early ’90s fishing the rocks for game fish. It’s a very tough gig with early starts, long walks, and big days on the rocks with no shelter from the elements.

It gets even tougher when you hook a big fish and can’t chase it and have to put up with boats coming close to the line.

You can add having to lug all your gear into the platform, along with bucketing water into a pool all day to keep baits alive, and then maybe having to carry a big fish out at the end of the day. It’s a very tough facet of our sport and one well suited to the young and fit.

It looks like there’ll be a new ramp built at Currarong this year. The plans have been on display and it looks quite impressive.

Currarong has always had a very basic beach-launch ramp suitable only for small boats unless you have a tractor. It’s also very open to the north-east winds and tide plays a big factor so you can understand why Currarong fishos have been pushing for a proper ramp for many years.

If it’s done properly, a new ramp will open a lot of options. I would be happy to tow my boat from Greenwell Point to Currarong to launch there to fish the Drum Canyons over Summer.

BASIN BOOM

I’ve raved about what a success story St Georges Basin has been since it was made commercial fisher-free and it just seems to be getting better, producing some great fishing and local spinoffs to the economy.

Great flathead, jew, bream, tailor and snapper are caught in this estuary and many anglers have relished the opportunity to fish for these species in such a great location.

I can’t believe how many local anglers are fishing this water, or how many tinnies you see purposely set up to lure-fish this estuary.

Local marine dealers and tackle shops must be seeing the benefits of this with sales of boats, motors, electrics and tackle. I’m sure the shops and accommodation providers down around the Basin must also be applauding the decision to kick out the pros several years ago.

It’s a shame to think that a handful of licensed commercial netters – and many so-called rec fishers who illegally netted this estuary for so many years –kept it fishless for decades. What a pity the Government can’t gets its act together and make a few more South Coast estuaries commercial-free.

Maybe some of the NSW pollies should come down and spend a weekend unwinding and fishing with the locals down here to see the real benefits of St Georges Basin.

MAKO FATE

By now we may know the fate of mako shark fishing in Australia. Late last year short- and long-finned mako sharks were put on a global list of endangered species to protect a completely separate population of mako sharks in the Mediterranean Sea.

Despite mako sharks being very common in NSW and Victorian waters, they are now on the UN-sponsored Convention on Migratory Species because of short-finned mako numbers in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, it is prohibited to ‘kill, injure or take’ a listed migratory species in Commonwealth waters.

Blind Freddie could see that banning mako fishing in NSW and Victoria will do absolutely nothing to help numbers of fish in the Mediterranean or Atlantic but game fishers may have to cop the ban and cease fishing for makos in Spring and Autumn.

Longliners have already succeeded in having an exception applied so let’s hope that commonsense prevails and we can still fish for this exciting species.

Not all makos are killed and weighed. Many are tagged and valuable information on their habits and migratory travels is gained.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett will make a decision in January or February. Maybe he should go out and spend a day mako shark fishing or at least talk to recreational game fishers before he makes that decision.

Images

1

Christine Finney with a solid trevally from The Shallows off Currarong.

2

Elspeth Finney with a 311kg mako taken in December at the Drum Canyons on 24kg line. This fish was only 7kg short of a world IGFA women’s record. This may well be the last mako that the author’s boat will catch.

3

A striped marlin leaps high out on the Drum Canyons.

4

Simon Pender releases a 60cm flathead in St Georges Basin.

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