After another very ordinary marlin season I’m trying not to think how much time and money we spent for very little result.
A couple of months ago I was hoping and predicting that we’d see a few marlin about this Summer and Autumn. We spent a fair bit of time out at The Banks and the continental shelf from January to April chasing blacks and stripes and we had little success.
We trolled a heap of different lures, marked some bait and fished live bait around the schools. After several hours we started to troll again and still caught nothing.
Live-baiting was probably the best option but when we had to battle seals eating our baits and leatherjackets chewing up our terminal gear, we often trolled lures.
Mahi mahi fish were just about non-existent and those that were hanging around FADs and traps were barely legal. No one else was finding fish so it wasn’t our doing. Not that that made us feel any better.
Anyway some decent eating fish are starting to be caught now so my wife is happier, at least. I have three Winter favourites so here’s a quick rundown on them.
One of my favourite Winter options is chasing kings at The Banks.
I’ve always liked fishing for kings. They fight as hard as just about anything and they taste good, too.
We live-bait or jig for them normally but I must admit a preference for jigging. It’s great fun and I reckon it’s easier and more effective than live-baiting.
We simply get on top of the fish by using the Furuno 585 sounder and drop the jigs down. No messing about with catching livies, hooking up baits or fishing sinkers or a downrigger.
If there are kings there they’ll eat jigs and don’t let anyone tell you any different. I normally fish a Stella 10,000 loaded with 50lb or 65lb braid and use 250g or 300g jigs at The Banks. I fish a 2m wind-on leader of 150lb mono to the jig and Owner terminals.
Next up are inshore reds on plastics or floaters. April-May is prime time for inshore reeds here and you can be sure we’ll be out looking for a feed of snapper.
We fish several areas, from out near The Banks down to Currarong and even in close off Culburra. Any depth from 10m to 40m is fine as long as there’s a bit of reef or structure around.
If there’s a current running we’ll anchor up and get some pilchard cube berley going. We normally fish striped tuna baits but squid and cuttlefish are also good.
If the current is slow or the breeze is blowing the wrong way and we can’t sit back at anchor, we’ll usually drift and fish plastics.
Depending on the depth, I’ll normally fish 3/8oz TT or Nitro heads and 4” or 5” plastics.
Cast as far as you can with the wind behind you and let them sink slowly. If they don’t get eaten on the drop, work them back very slowly.
I fish 15lb braid and 20lb fluorocarbon leader and I just love those hits from decent reds – they nearly pull the rod out of your hands.
Last, but not least, are jewies in the Shoalhaven River on soft plastics.
Those early Winter starts are hard to take but if you pack a thermos and enough warm clothes, you’ll at least be comfortable and warm. Arvos are a bit easier to take.
Now is the time if you want a jewie on a plastic in the Shoalhaven. A few locals here in Greenwell Point do very well on the river jew by fishing the tides (usually the low) and fishing hard with 4” to 6” plastics in deep water.
Just about anywhere from Broughton Creek to the Crookhaven entrance will produce fish. I use the same gear I fish for reds with plastics but I go up to 30lb leaders for jewies.
If you still can’t get enough game fishing and, to be honest, after a very slow Summer I’m a little over the wide trips for a while, you can always be out looking for a yellowfin or albacore now.
If they are about then troll some diving or bibless minnows or 6” and 8” skirted lures.
Once you find the fish just keep in that general area or you can pull up and drift with some cubes as berley.
Another trick we’ll be trying this autumn is finding albacore by trolling and then pulling up and fishing mini-jigs on threadline gear. A few mates who tried this last season reckon they cleaned up using 50g to 100g jigs on 100lb wind-on leaders and threadline outfits with 20lb to 30lb braid.
If all else fails, I’m going to head north with the missus for a week or two and get away from Winter for a while. We’re thinking about Cape York or somewhere in the Gulf for a week chasing tropical species like mackerel, golden snapper, queenies and trevally.
We fished at Seaforth, just north of Mackay, last October with local guide Arthur Lavell and had a great time, so a northern trip may just become an annual pilgrimage.
I was invited to fish at Lord Howe Island for a week back in March and had a great time. Mate Craig Murphy and I spent several days out on a 40-footer and caught marlin, kings, yellowfin and mahi mahi.
It’s a magnificent place with a relaxed lifestyle. The people we met were magic and went out of their way to make us feel welcome. The fishing was as good as I’d been told and we had an absolute hoot.
If you’ve ever thought about going to Lord Howe or fishing there I thoroughly recommend it. It is just such a unique place that you’ll come back with great memories and probably a few nice captures as well.
Andrew Finney fishing an early morning snapper trip with floaters, using chunked pilchards for berley and striped tuna belly strips for bait.
John Rattenbury up tight on a Jervis Bay red at Long Nose Bommie.
May is tuna time with albacore and yellowfin hopefully about. This albacore ate a skirted lure in carnival colours.
Elspeth Finney with a morwong taken on a bottom bait off Culburra.Reads: 1538