OFF the back of a very busy autumn looking after tourists, some South Coast charter boat operators are looking forward to winter when things quite down and they can so a little fishing for themselves.
Anthony Stokman from the Complete Angler in Batemans Bay is one such person.
Anthony is looking forward to the possibility of another good bluefin tuna season, but in the meantime reports warm weather species are there for the taking.
You see the East Australian Current continues to push down so it’s looking like the warm waters are going to hang around through winter like they did last year last year.
Sure there will still be that inshore drop down to 14 or 15 degrees, but the offshore water may stay quite warm. Last year marlin were being caught in June and a massive blue marlin being was weighed in at Bermagui in August…don't be surprised if we see this again this year.
Meanwhile some decent kingfish have finally made an appearance, but they are hit or miss.
Good spots to include Durras, Moruya, Ulladulla and Jervis Bay. A good strategy is to chase snapper and flatties until the kings turn up…it’s an each way bet.
Stand out species end of summer and throughout this autumn is definitely the dolphin fish. The FADS up and down the coast have been holding large numbers and plenty of fish mostly around the 80 to 90cm, but with some little rats and a few bulls amongst them.
With the FAD’s fishing so well, Anthony was keen to remind anglers about FAD etiquette.
He remembers the days when he rushed out to a FAD with only lures in tow. Two other boats already there were setting up for a session with livies, so he thought he would do a couple of quick passes, try his luck and move on
This obviously this didn't make the guys very happy and for good reason; he spooked their fish, and had he caught a couple they would’ve been more upset. First in is first served.
But karma got him back immediately because when he returned with livies he picked up two dollies quickly before another boat came and did what he did earlier and the fish shut down immediately.
The problem with motoring passed with lures is that it can push the fish down if they are a bit shy.
There's days they are on the bite big time and motoring by with lures out the back can produce fish, pass after pass. But if the fish have been holding there for a few days or more and have been getting a lot of traffic they tend to get pushed down by the engines.
So if you arrive at a FAD and people are quietly drifting by and catching fish with livies and you don’t have any livies or bait-think before trolling!
The best approach is to find the direction of drift and park well away from the FAD and drift by it.
Berley can be very helpful in raising fish and livies are always going to be your best option.
Other options include jigging lures or hard bodies. This can be a lot of fun on light gear. Just don't be the clown dragging lures through five to 10 boats who are drifting quietly by. They are not going to be impressed and nobody will be catching fish.
The other thing to remember is once you do a drift by the FAD and you are some distance away from it, don't be surprised if you hook up.
When things are going smoothly and people are quiet the fish can be up and on the bite for some area around the FAD.
But when you feel you have drifted out of the action. Start your engine and motor quietly out and well around the FAD and start the drift again. So slow and take your time and be quiet and everybody will catch fish instead of none.
There are still striped marlin getting around and there have been some great days in the last three weeks.
There has been some tuna poking around as well, including some sightings of what would be long tail tuna by diver; so now is the time where you could get one of these tasty speedsters from the deeper rock platforms.
Snapper have continued to stay in close over the last few months delighting experienced rock fisherman. Boats fishing the shallows out to 15m's depth have also succeeded in reasonable catches of snapper using light gear, especially on the last bit of the high tide when it coincides with dawn and dusk.
In the estuary the big news of late is the giant jewfish Wade Eaton put Joel Taylor into.
Wade and friends have been putting some serious hours into catching these fish, with good success, but nothing so far has matched the beast they caught near the Princess Highway Bridge.
Their signature grunt ‘Arrggghh’ will be sounding for some time yet.
Author Australian Fishing Basics