Yellowfin and Albacore are the prime target at this time of year with Kingies and dropping on Browns thrown in for good measure. The warm currents are slowing and cubing is also on the agenda.
I took Brad, his groomsmen and future father-in-law out on Saturday. The aim was to catch live bait, which we did. Have a jig and drop baits on 12 Mile then a deep drop on Browns followed by a late cubing session out wide.
We arrived at 12 Mile and after several passes sounding it out I couldn’t find anything. There didn’t even appear to be any ‘Jackets, normally a good thing. Irrespective we dropped a couple of live baits down and one of the guys feeling energetic started jigging. Sadly the sounder was telling the truth, not even a nibble.
Consequently we left 12 Mile to troll out to Browns. On the way the radio was telling a sad story of a 3 to 3.5 knot Southerly current making it impossible to hold bottom at Browns; so much for that idea. The only option left was to head out wide and see if we could find some good water to start cubing.
After a couple of hours trolling and reaching the thousand fathom line the only real change was the speed off the current. There was neither bait nor any bird activity so I headed back to an area where the current was slower and we started a cube trail.
To cut a long story short after a couple of hours cubing Brad took a strike and landed a good Albacore of about 7 kilo’s. Unfortunately the guys had to be back early for a dinner pre-wedding so we had to leave early.
I feel sure that if we could had have stayed until dark we would have had more action.
Striped Marlin and Mako Sharks as well as Tigers were all the news off Sydney last week-end. Two Tiger Sharks over 450 kgs. were taken as well as another of unknown size lost after several hours of fighting. With the thought of XOS Tiger sharks in mind I went out with Glen and Karen on their boat ‘Tantrum’ to see if we could find one for their daughter Makira.
We headed out on Sunday to the eighty fathom line off Long Reef where we planned to start our trail. On nearing the area we found large numbers of Gannets diving on schools of bait fish. It was more than one group too. We could see several gatherings all in roughly the eighty fathom area. With so much bait around this had to be a good place to start.
With baits set at varying depths on a couple of 15’s and 24’s and the kids punching the burly, it was that time of waiting. I must say there is something really pleasant about shark fishing, other than the smell and mess. It is quiet and peaceful with a tangible sense of expectation as all on board watch the floats for any sign of movement.
After about an hour one of the reels starting slowly ticking off drawing everyone’s attention. The speed increased then the fish took a run. Makira took the rod and wound in the belly of line and struck when Glen told her. She had weight and was hooked up.
Unusually the fish stayed near the surface then we saw a splash as a bill and head broke the surface. We had a Marlin and after a reasonable fight Makira brought a good sized Striped Marlin to the boat where it was tagged and released – not the 400 kg Tiger we were hoping for but a nice surprise.
All the gear was re-set and again we settled in, watching and waiting. The currents were doing strange thing though. We had drifted through two strong current lines. Now our deep baits were on one side of the boat while our burly was going in the opposite direction. This was obviously due to the very light breeze but still indicated a deeper current going opposite to the surface current. Hopefully our burly was heavy enough to reach the deeper water.
It took a while then at the witching hour a small Mako turned up taking scraps off the surface. We drifted a bait out but no takers and after about ten minutes he/she disappeared. Shortly after our deep bait on 15 kg. started to run and again Makira took the rod and under Dad’s instruction struck the fish. This one took a couple of runs and went deep, this had to be the Tiger. The fish continued to take line with the occasional head shakes causing concern. Eventually Makira started to gain line, slowly at first then steadily. After nearly an hour of give and take she had the double up and we got our first view of the fish. Howy took the leader and much to everyone’s dismay brought up a 30 to 40 kilo Mako hooked in the tail. I don’t think anyone could believe a Mako that size could fight as hard as this one had.
So that was the day, we’d tagged a Striped Marlin and a Mako shark. I heard of another boat losing a Striped Marlin and that Browns was fishing well. Generally it seem it was a very quiet day off Sydney.
The good news is that Marlin are still here, Blues and Stripes mostly and amongst them a run of Sydney Yellowfin Tuna. This run of Tuna was a regular occurrence in the past and was the reason the Sydney Game Fishing Club’s ‘Summer point score’ season was extended from mid-April to May. One can only hope this is the start of another period of Yellowfin prevalence. Also, around the FAD’s and traps there are schools of Mahi Mahi. Though not the real big ones they are the good eating schoolies.
The run of Marlin that has kept us on our toes and losing lures for the last few weeks has slowed. The bite has moved a little further South with the prevailing currents. Over the week-end Port Hacking held their annual Tournament. About seventy boats competed, the biggest Marlin a Blue weighing 190kg. and the biggest Tuna a 68 kg. Yellowfin.
I don’t think we have seen the end of this run of Sydney Yellowfin tuna and Marlin. It is still just the end of March, the beginning of autumn. If history is anything to go by we’ll have several more weeks of Marlin and hopefully Yellowfin tuna to enjoy. It’s just a matter of perseverance and patience waiting for the next warm current to pulse down from the North.
The inshore fishing for the small Blacks hasn’t really taken off being more of a day to day proposition. However it’s more than made up for by the good numbers of larger Marlin further out.
At the well known ‘Car Park’ all three species of Marlin ( Blues, Blacks and Stripes ) are feeding in numbers on the schools of mackerel present. It is frustrating when using 10 or 15 kg. line for Striped and Black Marlin and only to hook a rampaging Blue. I can’t give actual numbers but over the last two tournament weekends every boat saw action with the local boats doing exceptionally well tagging up to and over ten a day. For more information on results go to the ‘NSWGFA‘ and ‘Newcastle Port Stephens Game Fishing Club‘ sites.
Wide of the ‘Car Park’ around the shelf you will find more Striped Marlin as well as Blues and Blacks. As you move wider towards the thousand fathom line which is as far as I went, there is bait and birds working and masses of flying fish. There are schools of Striped tuna and if you’re lucky, some very good Yellowfin tuna. I managed a couple going 69 and 59 kilo’s. There are also Blue Marlin both small and large and you won’t know what size will hit next ; the most exciting fishing.
The Marlin build hasn’t just happened over night but built up over the last few weeks. I first encountered the increasing numbers of Marlin wide and North of the Port. In one day of trolling I had twelve strikes.
The Blues are in numbers that I have never even heard of before, other than off the Gold Coast. This all bodes well for Sydney in the coming months. March and April and even into May is when the biggest fish ( Marlin etc. ) are caught down here. So, if what is happening at Port Stephens continues moving down with the currents we could be in for a bonanza.
All gamefish are sensitive to water temperatures and their movements governed but the ocean currents.
On studying the SST’s you can see that the warm water North of us, on and wide of the shelf is flowing South then out to sea just South of Port Stephens. Conversely the water off Sydney over the shelf is flowing inshore from the South and East and then turning South. It is clear that the fish, probably the Blues, in the warmer water North of us aren’t going to be seen off Sydney until there is a change in the currents.
However, the Northern water inside and along the shelf is flowing South parallel to the coast. This is the water that brings the run of Blacks inshore and further out near the shelf the Striped Marlin. Usually the Blacks show up off Sydney mid to late December but in the last week or so the inshore waters have warmed significantly. Yesterday I noticed a lot of bait just out of the Heads. Lots of Mutton birds were working the area as though waiting for something to push the bait up. This could be an indication that the Blacks are here there has been the occasional report of small Marlin inshore.
Those fishing wide off Sydney haven’t been having much luck but it seems the Kings are another story. The run of Kings outside last week was remarkable with more than a few going over the magic metre mark. Unfortunately that was last week since then the Southerly current has increased. I have been told it was running at 3 to 3.5 knots and when you add the effect of 15 to 20 knots of North Easterly you’d be close to flying.
In the harbour the Kingsfish mixed with Tailor, Bonito and Salmon are still rampaging around chasing schools of baitfish. You can find the schools anywhere from the Heads down the harbour to the Lane Cove river. Find the birds and you’ll find the fish. Frustratingly you will often find the fish under the Harbour Bridge in the 15 knot zone where you are not allowed to stop and fish.
I am looking forward to my annual stay at Port Stephens. I’ll be there and available for Charter and the occasional social day for SGFC members from mid- January until mid-March. If you want to catch Marlin or any of the pelagic species which are so much more common up there give me a call.
Well the trophy for the first Marlin of the season for the Sydney Game Fishing Club has been taken out. Coincidently the first Marlin for the Broken Bay Club was also taken out. Artie Saren caught Sydney’s first a Striped Marlin from the boat Compton. A bitter sweet day for many of us as it is a much vied for Trophy. On one hand it means the Marlin season has started on the other the pressure is off and we can save a lot of fuel looking for that first fish.
I was out on Sunday looking for Marlin. The conditions were almost ideal with lots of bait around the shelf, good water colour and temperature but no birds. We did get a strike late in the afternoon which I’d like to think was a Marlin. A few boats encountered Marlin further North, around the Norah canyons, but I didn’t hear of any other than Compton’s.
Inshore the Kingfish are around but you have to put in a lot of time to catch the bait needed to attract them. Even when you do get the bait it is tough to find a keeper fish. I fished on Friday trolling live baits close to the rocks in quite rough conditions but only caught undersized Kings and a couple of Bonito.
Browns also seem to be running hot and cold with Gemmies and a few Blue Eye still on offer. From what I have gathered fresh bait is necessary.
Overall the fishing is on the quiet side. Whether you are fishing inshore or offshore perseverance is the key and of course good bait…
I don’t know why but I still get surprised when the SST’s don’t reflect what I experience at sea. I shouldn’t I know because the charts don’t have the resolution to show the minor eddies that hold the fish we chase. This is especially important when chasing Marlin and other pelagics.
When I went out on Sunday the SST’s showed a relatively warm current coming down the coast running quite quickly at the shelf and out from there. I headed out East from the heads planning to troll North at the shelf and go out wide. Without going into details, as I trolled North and out the temperature increased as expected. At around two hundred fathoms the temperature started to cool off which I did not expected. I turned around and started to work my way back to the warmer water. Here the bait was also building up. Most interestingly the current varied, as I moved in so as to make me think there was an eddy somewhere around the ‘Bait Station’. As the day progressed we raised two Marlin and one probable Marlin. Each of the fish hit the lures more than once but we just couldn’t sink the hooks.
Through the day several boats saw and hooked Striped Marlin. Jeff Manson from his boat ‘Spindrift’ hooked a Blue Marlin in four hundred and fifty fathoms when it took a 10kg. outfit. As you would expect the fight didn’t end well and that’s what I call sporting. I only heard of one boat catching a Marlin a small Stripy. If you are into sharks the boat ‘Undertaker’ fishing just inside the shelf caught a couple of good sized Tiger Sharks and a small Blue Shark.
Fishing for Kingfish is patchy at present because most of the reefs are being adversely affected or is that infected by Barracouta and Leatherjackets. There are some good fish coming out of the harbour though and some from surprisingly far down past the Bridge.
The numbers of Marlin sighted is definitely increasing. This increase should continue as the water warms and the currents push inshore. November usually sees an increase in the warm water pelagics with larger than usual Mahi Mahi often encountered.
Not much to report on today. Due to my involvement with the ‘Go Fishing’ day via the Sydney Game Fishing Club, I didn’t manage to get out or even listen to the radio though I did hear about a few Kingfish.
It is very gratifying to take the kids and their parents out for a day of fun fishing. When the kids catch a fish the excitement expressed on their faces and the pride their parents exhibit is hard to beat. It must surely add to their self esteem – the day was a great success.
As far as the fishing scene goes I don’t know that many went out. I have heard the Kingfish are a daily proposition both on the inshore reefs and offshore. The Kings are there one day and the next all you can catch are either Barracouta or the dreaded Jackets. The fact that there are ‘Couta around would imply there is cold water down deep.
This is the time of year when the currents are changing over to the warmer water of Summer. The charts are showing the current strengthening from the North and hopefully with it the pelagic speedsters. As I mentioned last week their are enough sightings and hooking of Marlin and Mahi Mahi not to mention a Spearfish to make the offshore trek worthwhile. You never know you might get lucky and find the elusive Yellowfin.
Saturday’s BOM weather report was nothing to get excited about especially for going game fishing out wide. On checking the SST’s before the week-end it looked as though there were two likely areas where the Yellowfin might turn up. One was an area wide and South of Browns and the other North-East of the bait station. Via the grapevine I’d heard that a few ‘fin were wide of Broken Bay and off the Southern canyons. So it was with great expectations that we went out game fishing on the hunt for the elusive Yellowfin.
On the way out I decided to check for Kings which were on the bite on the inshore reefs. I didn’t bother taking live bait relying on the jigs to do the job. We did manage a couple of Kings as well as lots of Jackets. However it quickly became apparent that live bait was the go. The two other boats out there were doing a lot better than us.
I trolled out to the thousand fathom line but the water stayed green. Continuing South down the line there was no change in the water colour. So, after several hours trolling I discussed the situation with Chen and her friends and we decided to go back to the reef . It is ironic that though the radio is a frustration with its idiots on demand it is also a great source of information. Unfortunately, since I was the only boat out wide, due to the weather report, I could only judge the conditions from what I was seeing.
By the time we’d reached the reef the other boats had gone. We had the place to ourselves and the Kings were biting. I don’t know what changed but the jigs worked and saved the day.
Sunday was a perfect game fishing day. This time I went looking for bait but Murphy had stepped in and they just weren’t biting. I didn’t want to spend too much time chasing the bait as I was sure the ‘fin were out there somewhere. So again we hit the reefs with only jigs and again bait was the way to go. Remi and his mates however were keen to catch tuna.
Trolling out near and just over the shelf the bait was really building up. At times it was almost up to the
surface where the gannets were dive bombing the schools – it was looking really fishy.
There were a lot of boats out on Sunday and the chatter wasn’t too bad, with only a couple of nuisances voicing there opinions. For the most part the chatter was informative. Interestingly Marlin were being reported regularly around the bait and at least one at Browns. With that in mind we spent a good deal of time working around the bait schools before heading wider. Again after spending several hour trolling for nothing and not hearing about any Yellowfin we decided to go back to the reef. This time though we spent some time jigging up mackerel out of the schools on the shelf. After we’d caught about twenty very large slimies we headed back to the reef.
Murphy stepped in again though. We had just dropped our first live bait down when reports of Yellowfin started to come in. Worse, they were only a few miles from where I was heading. Whoever said fishing wasn’t frustrating has never been fishing.
Summing it up there were several Yellowfin taken. ‘Murryifin’ and ‘Phat Cat’ amongst those who found them and Ed from his boat ‘Hold Up’ tagged a Striped Marlin.
So with the hope of a good run of Yellowfin and an early start to the Marlin season.
The good news, well not news anymore, is that we have just experienced the best and longest lasting run of Bluefin Tuna in a very, very long time. The bad news, it is most probably over unless you have access to the South Coast to where the currents holding the tuna are retreating.
Last Friday and Saturday there was still a good bite around Sydney though the fish were still hard to find a few boats found the Bluefin and Albacore wide of Browns out around Heatons and down to the Southern canyons strangely there were even some Mahi Mahi caught with more than one boat encountering Marlin.
The water then was clear blue and around 18.5C but by Sunday the only clean water around Sydney was inside the 600 fathom line and South. A cold green water current had moved in and was only 17 to 17.5C, by Monday it was inside the 200 fathom line and the fish had moved on. The Bluefin had moved South and were found between the Southern canyons and Stanwell Park. As the system moves on so will the fish – Bermi might even get another shot at them. This is one of those times when a trailer boat would come in handy.
The hope is that as the cooler water is pushed South and the current changes to the North bringing some warmer water in we might get a run of Yellowfin, there have been a couple caught out wide – one lives in hope.
I might mention that all the temperatures I have quoted are from my temperature gauge. Not knowing how or if other gauges have been calibrated temperatures from other boats will vary.