November often sees an early run of the pelagics i.e. Mahi Mahi and Marlin. As the warmer water up North really starts pushing down the shelf it bring with it the first of these oceanic wanderers.
However this October, after what has seemed the longest run of bad weather and bad timing as far as Charters goes, has come alive. For those who could take advantage of a break in the weather last week the rewards were there. Don’t get me wrong you’ll still have to work for the results but at least we know it isn’t futile.
The last time I was out conditions looked good. I found blue water nearly 22 degrees with birds searching and small schools of bait down fifteen fathoms. It felt like it was going to happen. I noticed small tuna hitting the swivels on the bigger rigs so put out a feather jig and started catching Striped Tuna. So the bait is there.
For those who haven’t heard ; at Port Stephens Paul Leaming’s boat ‘Hoodlum’ tagged a good sized Blue Marlin and raised another. Off Broken Bay the Findlay’s boat ‘Murrifin’ also tagged a good sized Blue Marlin. It doesn’t end there. I have also heard of at least one big Mahi Mahi and another Spearfish.
I think the big question is will this season’s run of Marlin, especially the Blues, be as good as the last one ?
Though the current is pushing hard some of the boats bottom dropping are getting results, Blue Eye and Deep Sea Perch being the main catch.
I don’t know how the wider reefs are going for Kings. The last time I was out there was nothing but that changes daily. Closer in shore and in the harbour is where most of the Kingfish action is to be found.
In short, if Game Fishing is your thing the action is definitely on the up. But as is usual the weather is the enemy.
I am afraid I have to say it but the Pakula ‘Brad ‘J” bullet has done it again with the capture of a very early season Spearfish.
I went out on ‘Shukudu’ owned by Gerard Searle on Monday to see if we could find those elusive Yellowfin. The damned things are out there but not in great numbers. Over the last few weeks the ‘fin have been evident with just enough caught to tease us into chasing them, such is their allure.
The plan was to troll from the shelf, in the hope of a Marlin, then out wide to the thousand fathom line and depending on what we found to turn either North or South. As so happened out wide the current was going hard to the South. We decided to travel down as far as the Southern canyons then turn for home as the radio reports were not very conducive to optimism. And that’s when we got the strike, as we made the turn to head inshore the shot gun with ‘Brad’J” screamed off. The initial run was impressive but after that the fish came in easily. We expected to see a middle sized Yellowfin the last thing we expected was a spearfish. I must say though that later, on the bar BQ at the club it tasted great.
Later I heard there were a few ‘fin taken between Wollongong and wide of Port Hacking as well as a couple of 30 kg. fish somewhere East of Sydney.
The Kingfish are as elusive as the damned Yellowfin. On the offshore reefs they are on one day and who knows where the next. The one constant is that the Jackets are always there. The best you can do is keep going, eventually the timing will be right
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Reports of Yellowfin tuna have been coming in over the last couple of weeks. Those ‘fin encountered have been in two basic classes, biggish ones over forty kilo’s and others going fifteen to twenty five kilo’s. However as we all know any Yellowfin is a good one. The main problem other than locating the fish is the weather. It seems to go bad on the weekends and whenever I have a charter. It seems mother nature is enforcing its own lock out.
On my way back from Botany where I was having some repairs and my annual survey done, I was told of good sized Yellowfin wide of the Southern canyons. I hadn’t planned to go out on the Saturday but there was a break in the weather and the lure of Yellowfin too great.
We went out heading directly to the Southern canyons, put the lures in South of Browns and started hunting. There were whales everywhere and strangely there were an inordinate number of them breaching. Also millions of Mutton birds on their migration back from Siberia making difficult to find birds that were working. As we approached the area where Bob Curry had seen the ‘fin in clean bluish water I noted that the water was now a dirty green and running hard to the South. I had been told the current was Northerly but today it was running South with no sign of life in it – what a difference a day can make.
I headed out wider and slowly the temperature rose until about the thousand fathom area there was a distinct colour change and the temperature rose to just over 19 C.
We followed this break North and other than a big Sun fish and a couple of small groups of birds circling an area didn’t find any tuna. I did work the area for a while but didn’t mark anything so moved on towards the Bait Station.
In about seven hundred fathoms just South of the Bait Station I marked a Long Liner some four miles East. At the same time I heard that Mike Clarkson had found a school of Yellowfin and caught five. They were another eight miles North East of me but since it was getting late now and there was two knots of current against us I decided to just troll towards home. After all we were in the same patch of water and there are no fences out here.
Interestingly there were also reports of the fin being found wide and South of the Southern canyons.
As for the other goings on. There are Kings on the offshore reefs but they are here today and gone tomorrow. There are lots of undersize Kings inshore too. It seems the bottom fishing at Browns is also a day to day proposition and even the shark fishing is slow. Though it was definitely slow fishing last week-end you could always blame the moon or the increased currents. So if you believe the moon has anything to do with it next week should be better.
Spring is usually a great time for fishing off Sydney. Out wide Tuna usually show up with Albacore and Yellowfin in the mix. Also on the offshore reefs the Kingies should be in residence. Around Browns Gemmies are still around with the occasional Blue Eye as well as Mako and Blue sharks ready to steal your hard won catch.
Unfortunately so far this Spring the weather has been abysmal. Over the last few weeks while waiting for a break in the weather I noticed Long Liners working fifty to sixty miles out. I know that just because there are Long Liners in the area it doesn’t mean we as line fishermen can catch them but it does indicate there are fish in the area.
So Sunday was the first time in weeks I have been able to get out and anticipation was high. It was pretty lively going for the first few hours but as the day warmed the sea calmed right down. We had a jigging session on the 12 Mile but when the guys brought up a couple of Barracouta it was obviously time to move on.
Heading East we put the lines in on the shelf where there was some bird life, hoping for an early season Marlin. The only marine life we did see were whales, lots of whales. In fact on our way home in the evening I had the closest encounter with whales I have ever had. If I had have been going any faster there would have been a collision.
I didn’t end up finding the tuna but the water looked good. There were areas where birds were obviously searching. We saw a couple of schools of Striped Tuna and bait fish. We found bait down deep as well as on the surface out around the thousand fathom line. It looked alive but alas not while we were there.
So here’s hoping…
Again as a reminder, I’ll am taking bookings for Port Stephens where I’ll be available from mid-January until mid-March.
I want to take this opportunity to say that I am taking bookings for the upcoming Port Stephens 2019 season. I will be available from mid-January until mid-March’19.
As most would know this year’s Marlin season at Port Stephens was the best in many years. Best of all was the fabulous run of Blue Marlin. In fact out on the Car Park all three species of Marlin were biting their heads off, a rarity in itself. Unfortunately there were lots of Whaler sharks amongst them.
Sadly I haven’t had much to write about these last few days. The weather has been disastrous for anyone who has wanted to go to sea.
Never the less there are Long Liners working wide off Sydney. This would indicate there are Yellowfin or maybe even some late season Bluefin out there. There are reports of Bluefin off the South coast but then again the weather is keeping all but the professionals in the harbour.
It is Shark time off Sydney at present with Mako’s, Blues and Whalers on the bite. On the week-end a rare Thresher Shark was also caught and a couple of Whites were encountered.
Now that the Bluefin have moved on and the Yellowfin haven’t turned up Sharks have become the mainstay of game fishermen. These sharks are widespread, other than Blue sharks which are rarely found inside the shelf all the others can be caught from close inshore out to as far as you want to go.
Of all the available sharks Mako’s are the most spectacular. When hooked they make long, fast runs and they can jump. I have seen them reach up to at least four metres into the air; they are truly spectacular. Seeing a big Mako come out of the water rollover and come down head first is something not to be forgotten . Sadly as a result of these huge leaps more than a few unlucky anglers have ended up with a Mako in their boat.
One of the hot spots for Mako’s is Browns mountain where they congregate to feed on the Gemfish. Consequently because of the number of boats in close proximity also trying for the Gemmies and Blue Eye there is a real danger of having an uninvited guest drop in , literally.
As for the Yellowfin I’m still hearing of the occasional fish being caught but I guess it is just a waiting game.
In the meantime Kings are showing up on the inshore and offshore reefs but are being hit very hard by both professional and amateur fishermen. One has to wonder at how sustainable this resource is.
Sadly we are in post Bluefin season though I’m sure we all hope they’ll return. It amazes me how they just disappear, here one day in numbers gone the next. Interestingly this year there were some good sized Yellowfin amongst the Bluefin.
In this post Bluefin time fortunately for us there are other options. We can concentrate on Kingfish, Blue Eye, Gemfish and Mako sharks as well as hope the Yellowfin turn up.
Last Saturday I took Dan and his friends out looking for the Yellowfin but still hoping a Bluefin might show up. We started by catching some live bait to have a shot on the outer reefs where the Kings were making an appearance. To cut a long story short we caught a few baits which were quite quickly converted into Kingfish. Not really large ones but good enough. However what they lacked in size they made up for in numbers.
Dan and his mates shared my love for the horizon and whatever it may hold, they’d caught enough Kingies and wanted bigger game. I headed out toward Heatons with my usual spread and a lot of optimism.
Around the thousand fathom line the temp started to rise and a few birds started to appear. Meanwhile on the radio I heard a couple of boats up North had found Yellowfin. They’d seen them breaking and even caught a couple on cubes. They were North of us but I didn’t know how far so I turned left hoping they weren’t too far. I later found out they were off Port Stephens.
We didn’t end up finding any ‘fin but knowing they were there was interesting enough. I later heard someone caught a couple around Heatons and South around JB too.
Meantime the mountain is fishing well for Gemfish and Blue Eye. To cap it off the Mako’s are showing up too just in time for this weekend’s Monster Mako Tournament held by the Sydney Game Fishing Club.
Sydney has been the place for Tuna Fishing with Bluefin the occasional Yellowfin and even Albacore taken last week but it is a day to day proposition.
On Thursday we headed out to where the fish had been caught the previous Wednesday. After my fruitless day on Tuesday I and the crew were keen to play.
We set the lures out North-East of Browns and proceeded to listen in on the radio for clues to where the bite was happening. As is usual when nothing is happening the idiots came on air providing what their small minds consider entertainment. Thankfully word of the fish started filtering through.
I noticed a stationary boat about a mile from us and headed over for a look when a couple of hundred metres from him we had a crashing strike and landed a Bluefin of around 45kilo’s. We no sooner had the lures in the water when the second fish struck. This one was much bigger and gave the ‘newby’ angler a hard time. He eventually brought the fish, which back at the club weighed just on 70 kilo’s, to boat.
Meantime the radio had come alive with reports of Bluefin, Yellowfin as well as a few Albacore coming in. We continued working the same area marking fish down at 40 fathoms but couldn’t get them to come up. I decided to move away and come back a little later. I spent another half hour searching for more fish out wider but nothing. On returning to the previous spot I had no sooner marked the school than we hooked up, a double, missing another when it hit a lure as it was being taken out of the water.
These when weighed went just over seventy kilo’s and gave the guys a hard time too. We kept one fish out wide while fighting the other at ‘sunset’ so as to get it in fast.
It took a little time but we landed both the Bluefin. Since now we had bagged out we turned around and headed for home. I must say the only downside to the day was that I lost my favourite Brad ‘J’. Otherwise it had been a long but very satisfying day.
We went out again on the Monday after a week-end of bad weather with Luke who was dead keen to catch a Bluefin. I went back to the area South East of Browns. Reports were coming in of fish being caught down below the Southern Canyons but I noticed a boat that looked like they were fighting. Shortly after they gave their position and that they had the fish under their boat. I and another boat whose name I have forgotten was behind me and heading towards them too.
As we approached the boat behind me hooked up on a triple and Bruce who was on board called me back. I had obviously missed the school and it could have only been by metres. Anyway as we approached we were rewarded with a triple hook up which was a problem since we only had one angler, my deckie, ‘Howie’ and me. Howie went straight to sunset it nearly killed him but he got the fish in in time to gaff Luke’s Bluefin. Then Luke went straight into battle with his second fish. After what seemed an eternity to him a very tired, relieved and happy Luke finally brought the fish to the gaff.
I went out yesterday looking for the Tuna. I’d heard the long liners were working wide and South of Heatons so headed off in that direction. It was a bit lumpy going through the heads but eased up a few miles out away from the backwash. There were just a few mountains with which to contend. Happily it calmed right down during the day.
Out over the thousand fathom line I picked up a long liner on my radar. He was another ten miles further out. About a mile short of the him we passed through a current line where there was a marked temperature change and lots of bird activity.
I managed to contact the skipper of the fishing boat who told me he’d caught a few fish on their first string and that there were a couple more long liners working 15 to 20 miles South of him.
To cut a long story short I didn’t find any Tuna but I must say it looked really good out there with lots of birds and bait showing.
On returning to Port I was told a boat caught a couple of Bluefin a few miles North-West of me and another wide of Norah Head.
There are quite a few boats going out today so will be interesting to see how they go.
After over three weeks of nothing to say about the Game Fishing off Sydney I needed to say something so…..
Game fishing off Sydney has certainly taken a turn for the worse. Actually it has been pretty hopeless for the last month. The weather hasn’t helped either. After what was amongst the best Smmer and Autumn seasons I can remember it has crashed. All those Marlin and Tuna as well as all the other pelagic species have gone.
Since mid-May the ocean currents and altimetry have conspired to keep the usual run of Tuna down South. There have been a few good sized Yellowfin taken around Wollongong and Kiama but off Sydney nothing.
The Bluefin we are all awaiting showed up on time on the South coast and have been caught as far up as Ulladulla and Batemans Bay. There are rumours of them being as close as the Shoalhaven but only rumours.
Up until last year when the Bluefin showed up off Sydney in early September they had turned up in early July. So far no sign of them up here but the altimetry this year compares with that of September last year. If the offshore ‘High’ moves a little to the South and inshore the water the Bluefin are in could come within range.
Well you have to be optimistic to be a fisherman…
At Browns the Gemfish are starting to run and the Blue Eye are on the bite. Unfortunately the current is pretty fast so though the fish are biting you lose a lot of gear. Also, Mako’s and Blue Sharks are making an appearance.
Kings and Snapper are there for those in the know. The offshore reefs are a day to day proposition and inshore lots of small Kings with the occasional good one thrown in.
So that’s it – hopefully the currents will ease and the Tuna will make an appearance soon.