No early rises
  |  First Published: July 2010

There’s heaps going on here at the moment, including reds, blue-eye trevalla, kings and bluefin tuna.

Getting up out of bed on cold mornings has never been one of my strong points over the past decade.

When I was young I had no problem getting up at 3am or 4am to climb down cliffs and go rock fishing all day. These days I find the idea a little less appealing for some reason.

It hasn’t done any harm when it comes to fishing, funnily enough.

The past few months we’ve been enjoying some great afternoon sessions on the local snapper. We normally head out about 2pm or 3pm and fish until dark anchored up and fishing floaters of whole pilchards on three-hook rigs.

I’ve always said that tuna strips or cuttlefish were the best reddie baits when fishing floaters but over the past few months Scotty Sharpe from Culburra Bait and Tackle has convinced me that pillies are better.

We’ve been fishing tiny pilchard cubes as berley and whole pillie baits with a very small lead or none at all and absolutely donging the reds. Most trips have produced around a dozen fish to 3kg or 4kg and it’s been some of the best snapper fishing I’ve ever experienced.

We haven’t been fishing any secret spot or inside a JBMP sanctuary zone, just some flat grounds off Currarong and Crookhaven Heads in 20m to 30m.

We don’t even fish a significant or obvious piece of structure or reef, which may sound strange. We’ve always fished back towards a drop-off or reef edge but Scott just fishes flat ground with very little or no structure.

He fishes 20lb braid and 17lb Vanish fluorocarbon leader on a threadline rod but I’ve been using my old faithful floater outfit, of a 7’ Loomis Mossy Back and a Calcutta 400B with 6kg mono direct to the three-hook rig.

I find the baitcaster great for feeding line to floaters and much easier to strike and hook fish with. I like the mono because the fish can’t feel you as much as they can through braid. The direct feel of braid works both ways.


A couple of significant captures I’d like to tell you about.

Local angler James Lovell was out with his mate Strutty bottom-bashing on the continental shelf for blue eye and hapuku when a school of southern bluefin tuna erupted boatside, attacking a school of bait.

‘Gravel’ grabbed a live-bait trace on his 24kg outfit and put a live yakka out as quickly as he could and hooked up solid. He landed that 55kg tuna while Strutty tossed a diving minnow on a jig outfit and hooked up but got blown away by a big fish.

The boys reckoned some of the fish were over 100kg so that must have been a pretty hot bite while it lasted.

The very next day Neil Rowlands, of Culburra, decided to go out chase a bluefin in his 26 foot Blackwatch Highlander.

He couldn’t round up a crew on short notice so he went solo and ended up hooking a good fish on a Halco Laser Pro. He fought that fish for well over an hour and got it to the boat and gaffed by himself, a superhuman feat.

Neil had to drive Highlander from the flybridge, where the steering and controls are, which made things even more challenging.

My twins were out fishing on Moontan that day so he called them over and son Andrew gave him a hand to get the fish aboard.

It took both of them to lift the 111kg bluefin into the boat.


I’ve had a boat issues over the past few months that have caused some pain and taught me a few lessons.

It started off on a recent trip where saltwater looks like it entered the fuel tank through a fuel filler cap that wasn’t sealing properly. That saltwater blocked up a water-separating filter and two in-line filters in the 150 E-Tec and reached and damaged the motor’s injectors.

A 150hp E-Tec has six injectors at about $900 each plus labour to fit. Insurance doesn’t cover it because my policy states that the boat must be adequately maintained and a perished seal is lack of maintenance – even if you didn’t know it was perished and needed replacing.

If there’s any way that saltwater can enter the fuel system unless by some extraordinary means, such as a ruptured fuel tank, then they simply say the fuel system wasn’t properly maintained and reject the claim.

It’s a trap for young players so if you run a fuel-injected motor, make sure your fuel tank, filler and fuel lines are up to scratch because it can be very costly once water gets into these motors.

I suggest a water-separating filter between the fuel tank and motor. Check it regularly and drain any water out before it causes damage.

Another drama involves a stainless steel rocket launcher that keeps cracking right under the last repair point down each side. So far that’s cost me about $500.

Or how about a sounder/GPS combo that’s three years old and can’t be repaired and has no spares available? The GPS has been working intermittently and playing up for two years and despite being sent back twice it still doesn’t function properly, and apparently is out of date.

I’ve been told the problem lies in the GPS antenna but a replacement isn’t available any longer. Don’t you just love owning a boat?



Culburra fisho Jim ‘Gravel’ Lovell with a couple of very tasty blue-eye cod from the continental shelf.


Gravel with his 55kg bluefin taken from a school that erupted next to the boat as they chased blue-eye.


Culburra Bait and Tackle proprietor Scott Sharpe tight to a good reddie off Currarong. Scott fishes with pilchards on a three-hook rig and a tiny sinker and dongs the reds just about all year round.


Scott Sharpe with a 3kg red taken on a floater. This fish was one half a dozen in a Winter afternoon session.

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