Narooma News fishing report: May 14

THE  kingfish at Montague Island have started to fire again, with good fish up to 90cm caught in the last few days. Large bonito have also been busting up on schools of sauries.

There are large schools of undersize kingfish around the area known as 'The Nursery' to the south of Montague Island.

South westerly winds have been an issue again this week. For the record the average wind speed for April 2013 was 12 knots, the average wind speed for April 2014 was 15 knots, an increase of 25 per cent.

This increase has had a definite effect on offshore fishing opportunities. Hopefully May's winds will be more favourable. Narooma residents and visitors may not have noticed the winds; Mount Dromaderry protects us from the south westerlies, but Montague Island certainly feels their force.

It was good to hear during the week that there is going to be an artificial reef off Shoalhaven Heads (near Nowra) at a cost of $900,000. There will be between 30 and 50 concrete modules placed on the sea floor at a depth of 30 metres. This equates to each module costing between $18,000 to $30,000.

On the South Coast, inshore reefs have already been constructed in St Georges Basin, Lake Conjola and Merimbula. There are Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) located up and down the coast with the nearest being Batemans Bay which has been removed for maintenance. At this stage there are no official plans for any artificial reefs or FADs in our waters, another plus for being in a marine park.

The kingfish at Montague Island have started to fire again, with good fish up to 90cm caught in the last few days. Large bonito have also been busting up on schools of sauries. There are large schools of undersize kingfish around the area known as 'The Nursery' to the south of Montague Island.

This year's kingfish season looks like it will last a while yet, with the water temperature off Narooma at around 21 to 22 degrees and the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a 70 per cent probability the El Nino will keep winter water temps higher than in recent years. The last time we had this particular weather pattern forming was in 1997, which resulted in kingfish being caught at Montague all year until 2001.

As is if to confirm this, Nick Cowley on Playstation reports that on Sunday clients caught 12 kingfish and a dolphinfish.

Then on Monday arvo, he went out with deckie Alex and mate Tim for a bit of a play and they bagged out on kings on jigs in about an hour or so.

Unfortunately, Nick reports there are still a lot of leatherjackets around, also probably related to the dolphinfish.

These warm-water species are increasingly being caught in local waters and on Monday the fish caught took a live bait.

For fishers venturing out into the really deep water, drop-lining has produced some good blue eye cod and gemfish.

Well-known local estuary fisher Ron Butler will be out of action for a few weeks after a health scare and a helicopter ride to Canberra.

Tip of the week: Keep an eye out for gannets (white birds with yellow heads and long necks) diving into the water, this indicates bait fish activity - where there is bait fish there is often predator fish such as tuna, kingfish and bonito.

Joke of the week: Mummy why can't I go swimming in the sea? Because there are sharks in the sea. But Mummy, Daddy is swimming in the sea. That's different, he's insured. – John Moore

Fifield Fishing: The last cast counts

TO the wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends and children of anglers, I’m sorry.

The following tale may inspire your beloved to stay out longer than they promised, leaving you waiting at home while they stand beside a river or lake somewhere muttering to themselves “one more cast, just one more cast”.

First some context and a brief fishing report from a recent weekend at Tuross Lake on the South Coast.

The temperature might be dropping but the estuaries are still fishing pretty well.

Whiting are launching the occasional raid on surface poppers, especially from the cover of slightly deeper water next to sand flats, and the bite-sized Storm Gomoku popper has been attracting more than its fair share of strikes.

Bream are biting on curly-tailed soft plastics fished around fallen timber, especially in areas with tidal flow in 1 to 3 metres of water. The bigger bream, as is often the case, can be caught on shallow diving lures.

Flathead of all sizes are still active. Over the weekend we regularly caught flathead while targeting whiting and bream, but we were disappointed to lose two big fish.

The first smacked a popper only to chew through the light leader line intended for a whiting.

The second took a more conventional offering of a 70-100mm paddle-tailed soft plastic. Despite steady and constant pressure on the line, the hook came out and so it will remain the stuff of legends.

Wondering what had gone wrong, I retrieved the line and tested the hook by dragging it along my fingernail – a trick Rob Paxevanos taught me in his book. It immediately dug in: it was razor sharp.

So why did the fish get off? On light outfits (4-6lb) popular for estuary lure fishing it can be difficult to apply enough pressure to insert the hook to the bend in the hard mouth of larger flathead.

Striking hard risks breaking the line. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, it takes far less pressure to set a barbless hook than one with a barb, so the next step was obvious: I squashed down the barb with pliers and cast out again.

On the Saturday we had decided not to keep any fish, but with partners back home enquiring about fresh fish for dinner we agreed to keep a few on Sunday. I should know by now that this is a great way to jinx yourself.

Sure enough, we struggled to catch anything on Sunday and after several hours had managed just five modest flathead between three anglers.  One more fish, we all agreed, would be enough.

Ten minutes before ‘home time’ I had a reasonable tug on the line.  I started to reel it in and half way back to the boat it got off.  It was definitely one of those days.

“One more cast” was announced.

There was another subtle tap on the line and as I lifted the rod, the startled fish swam off towards the cover of nearby trees.  It was big and heavy and powerful; I struggled to slow it down.  Was it another big flathead?  After a couple of long minutes, a flash of silver and yellow appeared beneath the boat.  A mulloway!

We slipped the net under the fish and whooped and hollered like school kids.

I grabbed the soft plastic lure and the hook slipped straight out.  It was the barbless hook from the day before – and it did its job perfectly.  After a couple of quick photos and with no thoughts of keeping this fish, we returned it to the water and it disappeared back into the depths.  Wow!

I’ve since wondered; if the much smaller fish had stayed on the line would we have called it a day? Would I have missed the mulloway? Possibly. But in all likelihood we would still have had one more cast. That’s the great thing about having ‘one more cast’, you’ve got to have a few of them to make sure the fish of a lifetime isn’t just around the corner.

Graham Fifield