THOSE fishers trying their luck at Montague Island this week would be forgiven for thinking it was summer, bright sunshine, warm water and kingfish.
The local fishing experts said it was going to be a late kingfish season, and they were right.
In the last week, the kings at Montague Island have been on the chew, with the fish being in the 68 - 90cm range.
Playstation skipper Nick Cowley reported that Sunday was one the best days he’d ever had on the kings, bringing back around 30 fish, while Island Charters skipper Chris Smith also reported bumper days on both Sunday and Monday.
Last week, the temps were so high that Nick and the boys on Playstation could not find any yellowfin tuna, but luckily they found a whole mess of dolphinfish getting around 10 big ones.
Unfortunately the run of great weather ended on Tuesday with a big blow.
Most days the kings have only wanted live baits in the morning sessions and knife jigs of an afternoon, so fishers have had to be adaptable.
There have also been some good bonito up to 3kg taken on the troll and with live baits.
Some fishers found that their live baits were being killed, when the baits were retrieved they had knife type cuts on the body of the bait, these cuts are actually made by the razor sharp teeth of the bonito.
Once a bonito has marked a live bait with these cuts, change your bait, as nothing else will take it.
As with most things “fishing” there has been a problem, this week live bait has been extremely hard to get.
Boats tried all the usual spots, with both tourists and locals finding it hard to get onto the livies.
Early in the week the livies were on the Kianga reef, then a couple of days later they were at Jetty Bay at the Island.
Over the weekend there were small schools of yakkas hanging around weed in about 7 metres of depth south of Jetty Bay, and needed plenty of berley to get them close enough to catch.
The water temp at the island is still a balmy 20.5c to 21.5c, with reports on Sunday that 'The Kink' had 23.5c
Paul and the crew from Truss Plus (without Gavin) travelled to Tuross on Sunday and caught a good bag of snapper up to 4.5kg, leatherjackets were a problem for the crew, but they were able to find a few jacket free zones where they found the reds.
Darren “Dash” Bowater in his Compleat Angler Ocean Hut reports for estuaries that it is expected a few species will slow down or shut up shop for the winter, but for species like bream, flathead, trevally, luderick and tailor, it should be close to being business as usual.
Bream are probably the most active over the next few months, as they begin to school and head towards the creeks to spawn in later winter, early spring.
So from the middle to the back half of an estuary, where a creek will enter is the place to concentrate your efforts.
The humble flathead generally likes to find a nice soft muddy bottom, in shallower waters, in around 5m or less.
These muddy areas will be home for the next few months, the reason being the mud is softer and holds the heat of the sun better than the harder, colder, white sand, thus making it warmer for the fish, and more likely it will remain active.
For the beach, Dash reports - A high tide, with a good sea on the crack of daylight, and then again at dusk is just what the doctor prescribed for your daily exercise, and with some cracking salmon, tailor and bream around at present, your chances of buckled rods and stretched limbs are high.
There's no rocket science here folks, it's as simple as if you find a good gutter on one of our pristine beaches, (Brou/Dalmeny, Tilba, Surf beach, Corunna, Blackfellows, for eg) get yourself one of the following items, being live beach worms, nippers, fresh/salted pilchards, or if your lure junkie, a metal jig around 40gm, set your alarm early enough that your first cast coincides with first light, then I guarantee you'll be booking yourself into the chiropractor come Monday.
Tip of the week: If you use squid to target kingfish, feed some of the squid strip up the line to cover the shank of the hook, then tie a half hitch around the top of the bait.
Strange ocean goings on makes tuna fishing tough
THE long-liner Fisco returned to its homeport of Narooma on Friday with a meagre catch of 10 yellowfin after two nights at sea and two shots.
Skipper Todd Abbott say it’s been a very tough yellowfin season on the Far South Coast for the commercial long-liner fleet.
Earlier this month, he steamed as far north as Forster for a ridiculous seven fish for an eight-day trip.
He has joined other local commercial fishing in observing the ocean is behaving weirdly lately with not only a lack of fish and life, but also an increasing number of warm water species.
He noted the lack of birds, any bait fish or squid on the recent trips.
That is not to say there are no yellowfin tuna out there at all, as the 80-odd boats fishing the Canberra Yellowfin Tournament out of Bermagui last weekend encountered 76 yellowfin tuna, with all but six released.
The warm water has also seen an influx of dolphinfish that both the recreational and commercial sectors are catching in increasing numbers in close as Montague Island.
Narooma charter boat Playstation on Friday could not find the tuna with water too warm at 24 degrees, but the day was salvaged when a whole mess of big dolphinfish around some floating seaweed.
Back at the Narooma wharf, the Fisco luckily always comes home with a mixed bag of other species ranging from albacore to dolphinfish to black snapper that sister Hayley Abbott puts to good use in her family business Narooma Seafood Direct.
Brothers Todd and Ryan meanwhile are hoping for a good southern bluefin tuna season and have secured 40 tonnes of quota.
Back in January they steamed the Fisco all the way to Port Lincoln, South Australia to go poling for tuna, which proved a worthwhile adventure.