Plenty of new playmates
  |  First Published: October 2008

After a very cold and dismal Winter it's nice to feel a bit of warmth when you get out of bed to go fishing. Nowra recorded some very cold nights so let's hope they're gone.

The fishing has also improved somewhat in the past month with a few new species to play with.

Spring is always a good bet for at least a couple of new species and these include some nice snapper along with pelagics such as bonito, salmon, striped tuna and maybe even some rat yellowfin inshore.

We've been doing our bit of late on just about all of these guys.

We've had several good sessions of the reds over the past month. At one stage we took about 30 snapper between 1kg and 2.5kg in four sessions, some on plastics but the majority on floating baits fished down berley trails.

We do enjoy our reds on plastics but I fished for years chasing snapper on bait with berley and it was great to get back into a bit of that.

The old snapper hit a plastic hard but to get a berley trail established and fish floaters down it and have them eaten by reds is a special thrill.

Just as enjoyable are the fresh meals of snapper in ginger and shallots or fillets done in tempura batter.

The pelagics haven't been missing our attention, either. We've taken a few solid bonito while fishing floaters for reds and we've also been targeting the local salmon in Jervis Bay and from the beaches around Culburra.

We've had a few good morning sessions from Culburra Beach tossing 25g Snipers and 20g Raiders. Just get there on daylight and fish the lures nice and slow through a gutter.

Most of the fish have been 1.5kg to 2.5kg but they've been great fun on 10lb Fireline fished over a Pacific Composites PPG Spin rod with a 4000 Stradic threadline.

Most of the hits have been in fairly close with the fish cruising just behind the shore break looking for baitfish.

We normally keep one or two to make fish cakes with and release the rest. Some of those mornings were bitterly cold but if you rug up and wear waterproof boots, you're OK. It also helps to take a thermos of coffee or hot chocolate.


As a game angler, I've also been told that bananas are bad luck and should never go near a boat. I've always believed that and have religiously avoided allowing any banana near my boat.

I've heard a lot of bad stories about bananas over the years but the worst I have is a true story that happened to me in the Solomon Islands about 10 years ago.

I was over there scouting out some new locations with Bruce Libbis, who runs Rathlin Charters out of Merimbula.

The day before our first day’s fishing Bruce decided to go down to the local markets and buy some fresh fruit. He came back with a bag of stuff that included a hand of little short, fat bananas that he said were very tasty.

Unbeknown to me Bruce brought them along the next day when we went game fishing.

Now being a charter skipper, you would have thought he'd known better and I have no idea what he was thinking. We spent the whole morning trolling in glassed-out conditions for a big fat zero.

One of the other guys with us was a surfing photographer from Tracks magazine.

He got violently seasick and ended up sitting on the toilet and spewing into a bucket at the same time, ending up severely dehydrated, and we considered heading back in at one stage. We ended up just closing the toilet door and locking him in there with a bottle of water so we couldn't hear his moaning and bodily functions, which were putting us off our fishing.

With a big fat zero on the boat, at lunchtime Libbis produces the bananas to my disgust and was quickly told by the skipper that they actually had to be cooked before they could be eaten and would be like balsa wood if eaten raw.

Bruce tossed them over the side. Within 10 minutes we spotted a marlin cruising the surface and dragged a lure past its nose and hooked up.

Despite bringing all that bad luck onto the boat, Libbis didn't waste any time grabbing the rod and landing an 80kg black.

Since that day I've known that bananas were bad luck on boats and I've even hidden the odd one on mates’ boats or thrown them on board as a joke. We motor past a mates 35 Bertram most weekends over summer on the way out wide and I'll quite often put a banana in one of their rod holders if we leave before them. I don't think they've caught a fish whenever we've done that and they're paranoid about bananas.

In early August I fished with Bruce Libbis for some snapper on a local reef and, just as a joke, I took a couple of bananas along to eat. We caught 10 snapper to 2.5kg that morning and Bruce was horrified when he saw me produce one and start to eat it around 10am. Maybe those bananas aren't so unlucky after all?


The Shoalhaven Gamefishing Club has run its Spring Light Tackle Tournament for many years and I wouldn’t dream of missing it. We've done fairly well in it over the past few years and, as the name suggests, it's included 4kg to 15kg tackle but this year it looks like 10kg will be the maximum line class allowed.

There will also be some changes to the prize structure for this year’s event. On November 8 and 9. The Light Tackle has traditionally been a trophy-only tournament but this year there are prizes of tackle.

In November you can expect to be hooking albacore, yellowfin, mako and blue sharks. There are prizes for champion boats in capture and tag-and-release categories and junior prizes for tag and release and capture.

Most years there are some solid results for makos on 8kg and 10kg along with quite a few yellowfin and albacore weighed or tagged. It's a low-stress tournament run out of Greenwell Point with some great friendly rivalry and the atmosphere is relaxed.

Last year's tournament produced yellowfin to almost 50kg and makos to 170kg. The guys on Pelagic caught a couple of quality makos on 8kg and 10kh and Bro's B4 Ho's caught and tagged some nice yellowfin and albacore.

Entry forms will be in at McCallum's or Culburra Bait and tackle so get in there and have a go.



The author with a 2.5kg bonito that ate a floating bait fished for reds in a berley trail.


Merimbula charter skipper Bruce Libbis with a 2kg salmon from Culburra Beach.


Andrew Finney used a Gulp soft lure for this with a kilo reddie.


The Shoalhaven Light Tackle Tournament is on the weekend of 8/9th of November.

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