Well it did turn out to be a good day for Yellowfin. Not so much weatherwise though.
Sometime later we had a much more solid hit on the lumo. This fish gave the angler a bit of a workout; using a new set of muscles. After a decent fight we gaffed a Yellowfin of about 25 kilo’s. There was no turning back now and fortunately the wind was easing, it was still very rocky and rolly but definitely backing off.
I went out again yesterday, fortunately sea and wind had abated considerably however it was still fairly uncomfortable. We put in a shot for Kings at the Peak without doing any good so moved out to the FAD. There was at least a 1.5 knot current from the North running past the FAD but conditions weren’t bad and we caught several Mahi Mahi in the 80 to 90 cm. range.
Now it was time to at last go wide. The lures were put in straight away since Jamie from ‘Carnage’ had dropped a Striped Marlin in eighty fathoms the day before and we trolled out to Browns where there were a couple of boats fishing the bottom. We trolled a Striped tuna lure and caught a couple but sadly that was all.
Yesterday in perfect conditions I took Brian, his father and his two young sons out fishing. They were visiting from America and wanted to experience Game Fishing. Sadly, they didn’t get the full experience though they did enjoy the day and succeeding in taking home a nice feed of Mahi Mahi.
Finally, in about 120 fathoms the water went that ‘beautiful blue’ we want to see and the temperature reached 25 degrees with the current running South at 2.5 knots. It was a slow transition up to the 25 degrees and in it we caught a big striped tuna, close to 9 kilo’s, that put on
good show for Brian, lucky they don’t grow to Yellowfin proportions.
After all the bad weather and floods of the last few weeks Sydney Blues took new meaning last weekend. This time of year usually heralds the arrival of Sydney Blues, that is Blue Marlin. If you look at the results of the Sydney Game Fishing Club’s annual ‘Peter Goadby Tournament’ which is coming up soon, you’ll find it has been dominated by big Blue Marlin, fish over 200 kilo’s with more than a few over 300 kilo’s.
On Saturday I took Leina and a few of her girlfriends out in the hope of a Marlin or even a Yellowfin. We went out not knowing what to expect what with all the flooding up and down the coast and the debris being pushed out to sea.
At the heads the water was like mud as expected, but as we worked our way out past twenty fathoms then thirty, forty, fifty and sixty fathoms it was not getting any better but the amount of debris was increasing.
Finally, out near the shelf it started to clear up and by the time we reached a hundred and twenty fathoms we had beautiful clear indigo blue water and 25 degrees. It looked good.
It looked good but there was no life in it. Then one of the girls spotted some birds working. As we got closer I saw Striped Tuna rounding up bait. We worked the area until the action dispersed and only catching some Stripies. Later on I was told over the radio by someone who’s boat’s name I can’t remember that they had caught a good sized Blue Marlin near Browns. We however had no more luck and turned for home.
On Sunday we had Scott and some of his friends. Little did they know what was in store for them.
Because of all the debris I trolled out and was surprised to find the Blue water had moved in to the eighty fathom line. We continued on seeing nothing but the occasional tree and pillow etc.
In about seven hundred fathoms I saw some Dolphins that looked like they were feeding so I headed towards them. Suddenly the rigger went off and the Tiagra screamed. I looked back to see a really good Blue tearing the water apart; Lumo’s turn to shine. Pandemonium ensued. Scott took the rod and could only hang on as the Blue screamed off. It took over an hour of hard work before Scott got the fish boat side and we got a better idea of how big it was. Meantime poor Scott was f—–ed and could hardly move. He had done a great job and will probably suffer tomorrow.
Meanwhile we continued on hoping for another bite but no luck other than a couple of Mahi Mahi we found near the edge of the Blue and Brown water.
Generally speaking from now and hopefully until mid-May we see the biggest of species. Blue and Striped Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna and Mahi Mahi along with Wahoo and Spearfish. What they may lack in numbers they make up in size.
Fishing Port Stephens was really tough this season. The main problem being the lack of bait, the big schools of Slimey Mackerel were not on their usual grounds, either inshore or offshore. Also, along with the lack of bait the juvenile Black Marlin had not shown up in their normal numbers. Offshore the Southerly current racing along at 3.5 to 4 knots and water temperatures up to 29 degrees Centigrade in early February was unheard of. However, it did come down to a more reasonable 26-27 degrees later in the month.
There were those who persisted with the inshore fishery chasing the Blacks going far and wide in search of their quarry. Some of the more experienced fishermen did manage a few fish but they were far from consistent.
To top off the lack of inshore Blacks, the weather didn’t help for those going wider chasing Stripes and Blues. The first day of the Garmin Shootout was very rough. So, once you reached the 3.5 to 4 knot Southerly current pushing into a 20 to 25 knot South-Easter the sea, with a 3 to 4 metre swell on it just stood up. Consequently lots of boats returned to Port and but some persisting inshore.
Fortunately, the sea eased off after that first day, but the fishing didn’t get much better. Those that put in the hard yards got results and there were some really good catches made. However, it was only on the last day of the Interclub Tournament that fishing got significantly better. And the last few hours saw a marked increase in the fishing results both inshore and offshore.
Incidentally, the winning T&R boat for the Interclub was ‘Doghouse’ with a number of Blues amongst which were two taken on 15kg. line, I still don’t know how you catch Blue Marlin, especially big ones, on such light line.
Sadly, though the fishing picked up on the Sunday of the Interclub and was looking like returning to the fishing we normally expect at Port the weather has done it again and who knows what we can expect now.
I have just spent 3 days, 3 very different days due to the varying weather conditions fishing out of Port Stephens. On the first day, last Thursday, because the usual bait gathering areas were virtually devoid of bait I decided to go wide. Levi and Matty were keen to get out there too. To say the weather Gods where kind would have been a gross understatement. But it was the only very calm day I encountered.
On leaving the entrance the water temperature was well over 23 degrees. Incredibly the radio had reported 25 degrees on the One Mile Beach. As it happens in 500 fathoms my sounder registered 28.7 degrees, a photo of which is below.
The water even in close looked fabulous, that deep indigo blue and it was the same all the way out, only the temperature changing.
I put the lures in at 80 fathoms in ideal great conditions. Even though I hadn’t seen any sign of life all the way out expectation was high. We trolled East to the second drop off then North towards Almark. A couple of times I noticed Mutton birds working around what appeared to be Frigate Mackerel feeding near plankton lines. I worked them for a while all to no avail then continued on. Then the shotgun let go in a screaming run. Bloody ‘Brad’ had done it again. After a good fight which taught Matty how tough being on the rod can be we got the fish, a nice Blue, to the boat were we swam it and let it go.
Friday and Saturday we didn’t fish due to the weather. On Sunday it was still pretty lively but predicted to ease. As a result I decided to give the inshore fishery a go. As expected live bait was hard to find but we did manage some. We put out some small lures and trolled up to the lighthouse then out to the FAD where we used some of the live bait to catch some Dollies, then back into Broughton. We did get more Dollies, some so small I don’t know how they ate the lures. Surprisingly we also caught a small Yellowfin.
So, after experiencing the inshore and seeing the results of those much more skilled on the inshore reefs than I it was back to the wide grounds.
It was Tony’s turn to catch a fish. I trolled out from the FAD and again not seeing much sign of life. We were in about 350 fathoms when again ‘Brad’ took off. All was looking good until the Marlin charged the boat and the hook just fell out. I could go into a long story about having banana’s on board and Tony saying that that was why we lost the fish. I don’t really think he believed me that banana phobia is bunkum until we hooked another Blue. This one came in and hit ‘Evil’ on the short corner first, missed, and went out taking ‘Brad’ on the way. This one put up a great fight and really made poor Tony work. He did a great job getting it to the boat where we took photo’s and let the Blue go.
In summary, though the fishing was tough they are there to be found. It appears that there are Small Black just North of Port and a few more being taken around Seal Rocks.
To me it looks as though the stage is set, we just need the proverbial actors. If and when the current eases as predicted the bait will build up and it will take off, I hope.
The weather looked too good to pass up yesterday. That, together with reports of Marlin and good-sized Mahi Mahi was enough for me to do a social day. I generally do these when I’m desperate to get out to sea.
We, Warren Knight, Elliot Wasserman and I headed out on a beautiful morning planning to try for Black Marlin and good-sized Mahi Mahi in close then work out wider to see what we could find.
For this time of year the water is remarkably warm, so I thought the Blacks should be here, showing 23.8C at the Heads. Out across the Whale and the Wave Rider there was heaps of bait, but nothing was tempted by the Pakula’s out the back.
We worked out over the 12 Mile and again so much bait that you would have thought this would be Marlin heaven. We continued out towards Browns and in 80 fathoms the bait was stacked up, showing all the signs of being under attack. However, after a fruitless half hour with no action I moved on. At Browns the water looked a little greenish and the temperature near 25 degrees Centigrade, so I headed back inshore to try and find the temperature break. There was no well-defined break but in eighty fathoms the water was a lot clearer and bluer so I worked North zigzagging between the shelf and eighty fathoms.
The first strike came on the shotgun. The Marlin ran about fifty metres and dropped the lure, typical Stripy. Frustrating indeed but at least there was one Marlin about. Continuing on, a short while later another hit on the shotgun. Elliot took the rod while Warren started clearing the lines. As luck would have it another Marlin hit the short corner while Warren was winding it in, double hookup. Sadly, Elliot’s fish dropped the lure after five minutes but Warren’s was going hell for leather.
Ultimately, we got Warren’s Stripy to the boat and it gained its freedom in what is called a ‘Çharter Boat Release’ sadly losing one of my favourite lures in the process.
Continuing on we had another strike on the rigger. It hit while Warren was putting the line up and received a nasty cut, probably lucky that the fish didn’t hook up.
We’d all had a good time and were feeling the effects of the sun and the humidity so I turned for home and just then we had another strike and another Stripy was greyhounding heading for the horizon. This fish fought like a demon and gave Elliot a really hard time but he persevered and brought the Stripy to the boat were Warren tagged it.
A great end to a good day.
Something I find intriguing with regard to bait and bait schools is that there is obviously a time when staying with the bait is the thing to do. But on many occasions the fish are well away from the bait decisions, decisions.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two weeks with many boats fishing the local tournaments here at Port Stephens.