Game fishing at the very least is a very fickle game. So dependant on the weather, currents and lots of other things we can blame for not catching a fish. However if there is a shortage of fish there isn’t much we can do except persevere.
This season at Port Stephens has been exceptional, exceptional in the lack of fish. What is strange though is that the conditions at sea were similar to last year yet last year the fishing was fabulous.
However it was not all in vain there were some reasonable days. My last couple of weeks up there were undoubtedly the best, the best of a bad lot.
I am back in Sydney now and usually April and May produce some of the best fishing for Marlin, of the three species and the other summer pelagics as well. We don’t usually get big numbers in autumn but we do get big fish. Blue Marlin over 200 kgs. and occasional ones over 300 kgs. have won the Sydney Game Fishing club’s Peter Goadby Tournament nearly every year. Not to mention the yellowfin tuna around 70 kgs. encountered.
What this autumn will produce is anyone’s guess but we’ll be out there hunting…
After fishing at Port Stephens for the last few days, I must say it hasn’t been great fishing. In fact by Port Stephens standards it is terrible.
Conditions at sea hadn’t changed much since I arrived at Port. The water out to 76 fathoms was cold and green. Beyond the colour changes until at around the 80 fathoms line it is deep blue and the temp. gets up to 27C and running at up to three knots.
On board I had Tony and three of his friends making up a team from Mackay for the ‘Shootout’.
Ironically on the two days before the tournament we raised four Marlin and a Mahi Mahi. We tagged a Black but the other three were small Stripies that took a run or two then dropped off. After examining the leaders it was apparent they were bill-wrapped. Such is the frustration of fishing for these fickle fish. All the fish we raised were on the edge of the hot water in the clean green stuff. During the first day of the ‘Shootout’ we fished the same area and couldn’t raise a scale. I couldn’t believe it. We never saw a fish the whole day. On the second day we went out wide, to the area where last year I had taken Tony to try and catch his first Spearfish and where I first used Peter’s Brad ‘J’.
As it happens someone was looking down on Tony. It was his turn on strike when we had a hit which turned out to be a Spearfish of around 20kgs. Well we thought our luck had finally changed but no, we didn’t see anything else all day. In passing I have never heard of so many Spearfish being caught in one day. I believe there were eleven taken and tagged. Interestingly there were also quite a few Yellowfin around also.
Who knows what will happen over the next few weeks. With so much happening weatherwise all along the coast anything could happen.
The juvenile Blacks should be at Port Stephens now so should the Stripes and even the Blues, but where are they ? Fisher people are finding the occasional fish, mostly small Blacks, but up until now there is no consistency.
I went out on Saturday with great expectations. Last week out wide there were big Mahi Mahi and we found a few Marlin. The currents have since moved closer inshore and even slowed a little. All seemed well and on the improve.
We went wide, out into the hot current which had gotten even hotter. Whereas last week my guage ( I stress my guage ) was showing 25.8 to 26 degrees this day it went over 27 degrees. Also, compared to last week there was no live other than the occasional Flying fish.
In my travels and after hours of fruitless trolling I passed over ‘Almark’. To my surprise I marked fish mid-water. I was surprised because with the current racing I didn’t expect to see anything. Consequently to save the day I suggested a jigging session to at least curb my clients frustration.
It took a drift or two to locate the fish, the wind and current making it quite a chore. However once I got it right the Kings started coming in. We ended up with twelve fish between 75 and 90 cm. with one over a metre. It was especially interesting when we had triple hook-ups as the boys had had more than a couple of drinks, but we won’t go there.
As for the Marlin…there is plenty of bait inshore so hopefully if the current finally moves in close it will trigger the action. In the meantime all we can do is give it a go. Interestingly there have been a few Longliners in Port so we might get a run of Yellowfin like last year. If the Yellowfin turn up the Blue Marlin won’t be far behind – how’s that for optimism.
The fishing clinics we held over the last week surprisingly produced small Black Marlin. Not the fish you normally expect in 500 fathoms.
The fishing at Port Stephens is really tough at present. Inshore the water is dirty green and cold. However, there is good bait in close so hopefully when the warm water moves in the Black Marlin and the others will follow.
When you get out to 75 fathoms the water changes dramatically. The current increases from the North to nearly 4 knots and the colour changes to blue. I saw Mutton birds hunting flying fish. Occasionally you will see Mahi Mahi getting in on the action pushing the flying fish into the air so the Mutton birds could scoop them up as they landed.
It was while working these areas of activity that we raised three Black Marlin and a good sized Mahi Mahi during the Pakula Fishing clinics.
On the first clinic we found a Black of around 65 kilo’s which Samantha Guest, the only lady on board, fought well in quite rough seas. It took a Brad’J’ bullet on the shotgun, surprise , surprise.
On the second clinic young Ethan Moses caught a good sized MahMahi which he handled like a pro. We then had a hit from a Black which took a good run only to fall off the hooks shortly afterward.
Shortly after Sergio hooked up on what was one of the smallest Black Marlin I have seen. Sergio brought it to the boat fairly quickly and it went crazy. It charged the boat and looked like coming aboard for a second. Unfortunately in a combination of rough sea and crazy Black, the tag pole tangled with the leader and broke it, so was lost at the boat. The video shows the scenario very well.
In summary we raised three Black Marlin and a Dollie which I thought was pretty good in the conditions. Another local boat ‘SECA’ caught a 60 plus kilo Yellowfin and I did hear of a Wahoo capture.
Mahi Mahi are apart from being a great sportfish and incredible eating are often the saving grace of a fishing trip.
After a frustratingly tedious trip up to Port Stephens in dirty, green cold water completely devoid of live Sunday past was a joy. Finally there was a break in the weather and the charts were showing the hot current was within range.
We left Port with high expectations heading to the shelf in a bit of a lumpy sea but it was the most horrible greeny grey water I have seen. It wasn’t until we were in about 75 fathoms that the temperature started to climb. Not only did the temperature rise quickly but so did the sea. Within a mile the temperature rose from 19.5 degrees up to 26 degrees. We were in the Southerly current and it was pushing hard against a Southerly breeze causing the sea to stand on it head. To give an idea of how fast the current was going I had a 40 degree difference between my Heading and my Course over ground.
However we were in beautiful indigo water, there were schools of flying fish so all was looking good. As we moved away from the edge the current eased a little and the seas calmed.
As I worked one of these gatherings of birds we had our first strike. A good sized Mahi Mahi of around 10 kgs. which Tom brought to the boat after a good fight, unfortunately Rob gaffed it only to have it jump off, most frustratingly. It wasn’t long after I found another flock and again received a solid hook up but this was a much larger Mahi Mahi. Tom again had the rod and again brought it to the boat where Rob’s reputation was at stake. Fortunately this fish of at least 15 kgs. stayed on the gaff. It caused quite a commotion on deck but was soon dispatched.
By now all on board but Rob and I had succumbed to seasickness so we decided to head for home.
I must say it looked good out there to me and there were lots of flying fish and bird activity. I marked some deep bait and the water was the colour we love to see. Consequently it must surely be just a matter of time before the other predators turn up.
Maddening Marlin – of all the Marlin the Striped Marlin are the most maddening. They will follow lures for an eternity, hitting and missing continually, testing each lure in your spread. You can tease them with lures and bait but even if you can get them to eat you’re never sure of how well they are hooked.
At present the Striped Marlin are even more obtuse than usual. Though these maddening Marlin are finnicky biters at best for some reason they are even more touchy than usual. Just to tease us there are still enough being hooked to make the hunt frustratingly worthwhile.
In my last couple of days out the water has got greener and cooler each day. However there is still plenty of bait around. Inshore it is made up of Slimey Mackerel but offshore I don’t know what makes up the schools. I have seen Sauries out there but they don’t often show on sounders. If anyone has jigged up any bait from near the shelf I would love to know what it is. Personally I think it could be made up of Mackerel as well as Toads, Bellows fish and even Leatherjackets, in which case the Marlin are very well fed.
Mahi Mahi have shown up on some of the FAD’s with the occasional decent sized one turning up so there must be some good water around, maybe a little deeper, below the green stuff.
Whatever the case the charts show a very warm current out wide. At Port Stephens it looks to be within range but it veers out just above the canyons. Inshore of this current the water is unusually cool for this time of year. Hopefully this situation will change in the near future.
Apparently this situation is caused by the ‘Coriolis effect’ on the surface currents caused by the strong North Easterlies we have experienced. With a bit of luck the Southerlies of late will reverse the situation and bring the warm water within reach.
Well I’m off to Port Stephens on Saturday and looking forward to it. After hearing about the Wahoo caught there last week and that hot current within reach I am confidant of good fishing.
Summer and the Mighty Marlin go hand in hand. Reports and contacts are becoming more frequent each day. Black Marlin are showing up inshore around the bait schools though not many have been caught yet. Out wider Striped Marlin are coming down the coast with the warmer water and Mahi Mahi are turning up in numbers around the many ‘secret’ FAD’s.
I’ve been out a couple of times this week with different results. On Christmas eve I took Levi and his friend out on a beautiful day weatherwise. Unfortunately as often happens on perfect days the fish were shy. Inshore the water was still coolish even though there was plenty of bait. I went out looking for warmer water.
It never really did warm up, the best temp. I got was 21.8C but it was a good colour so in 80 fathoms out went the lures. Well, after several hours of trolling and seeing the occasional bait school, lots of Dolphins, a few Manta Rays and no Marlin it was time to give up our hunt for the mighty marlin.
The weather then intervened and I didn’t get out for another couple of days. Again there was lots of bait inshore in fact there were schools of Slimies on the surface at the Heads. The water was still coolish so I went back to where I’d been previously. This time however it was rough, blowing 20 to 25 knots from the North-East and there was a colour change with a slight increase in temperature. The lures went out and I watched as one of the clients slowly turned a light shade of green. His friend, Walter was immune andraring to go.
I don’t know if it was the rougher conditions or not but there was bait and it was high up.
About half hour into the troll the lure on the short rigger took off at a rate of knots and just kept going. I actually thought it was a Blue. Walter’s friend took the rod and the greenish tinge slowly took on a reddish hue as he fought to both stand up and keep winding as I backed up into the sea. We eventually tagged the fish, a Striped Marlin and not even a big one, which had been tail wrapped. A little later on we had another Stripy come into the spread, have a look at all our lures, hit the lumo and after a decent run just drop off – now that is frustrating. By then Walter was sympathising with his friend whose greenish tinge had returned and called an end to the fishing.
We ended up raising six Marlin, hooking two and tagging one. Ben Dullard in his boat Markoo tagged one near us. Also a couple of others boats around Terrigal encountered some Black Marlin in close. There is obviously some really good water just to the North. From Norah Head up to Port Stephens those fishing for Marlin are having a lot more success than us. Hopefully over the next few days that current will move down and closer to shore.
Also the much vied for Sydney Game Fishing Club’s trophy for the first Marlin tagged has finally been taken out. Congratulations to the winner Michael Kirby, in his boat Gale Force, who tagged a Striped Marlin off Terrigal on his way to Port Stephens.
Finally I wish all and sundry a Happy New Year and hope the next one is as good if not better than this one…
Marlin madness is a strange condition. For those smitten it is usually after an encounter with one of these remarkable predators. I could go on about Marlin for hours but those smitten know without me saying anything further. All I will say is, it is Marlin madness season.
Whether you are a died in wool Game fisher or a novice, catching or tagging your first Marlin or the first of the season has special meaning.
Mike Schlezinger in his boat ‘Restless’ raised eight Marlin and tagged two on his way up to Port Stephens a couple of days ago. Also I heard of several boats from Lake Macquarie to Port Stephens encountering numbers of Striped and Blue Marlin. So obviously the time was drawing near. I had a charter booked and they were keen to catch Marlin, perfect.
The plan was to work from the ‘Bait Station’ up to the ‘Norah Canyons’, a long way but that’s where the fish were. I hoped that now the current was running South it would bring the fish closer.
Finally wide of Broken Bay in about 200 fathoms the water warmed to just over 23 degrees and went blue; time to put the lures in. About an hour into the troll we raised a Striped Marlin which hit the ‘Lumo’ on the rigger but didn’t come back. A little further on Lindon spotted a Marlin tailing. I ran the lures right in front of it but it just dived and we didn’t see it again. From there the troll to the canyon was uneventful. We did see a couple of Manta Rays lots of Dolphins and mutton birds searching. Further South another boat, I think it was called Sea Strike, had dropped a Marlin wide of the Bait Station and had caught a nice Mahi Mahi and several 15 to 20 kilo Yellowfin Tuna indicating there could be some Blue Marlin about.
We reached the Southern canyon, did a lap with no result and started the long downhill run home. Just when we were losing hope the ‘Lumo’ on the rigger took off, then the other rigger with ‘Blue Illusion’ screamed. On deck they were calling double strike but I was fighting one on the teaser and Lindon while pulling in the shot gun had another hitting it and I could see yet another one about to inhale the Blue Angel.
We had been pack attacked…
In the end we tagged one of them but lost one of the others after a short fight. Pure pandemonium reigned for a short time and that’s what Game Fishing is all about. Those moment of utter mayhem.
I would like to clarify the fact that this fish does not qualify for the First Marlin Trophy at Sydney Game Fishing Club. Firstly it was not caught by a member and secondly was caught on a charter.
It is summertime and the first Marlin of the season still hasn’t been caught or tagged by a SGFC member in Sydney waters. It was with this in mind that we went out last Saturday. The charts were showing good water wide and North of Browns so that was to be our destination.
I went out with Gerard Searle on his boat ‘Tshukudu’. It was a perfect morning. An unusually calm sea and no wind or rain in sight, a rare thing indeed in Sydney of late.
The water around 12 Mile looked good as we passed and several boats were there chasing Kingfish. I don’t know if they were doing any good but we were after Marlin so in went the lures and we headed off to Browns.
Just inside the shelf we marked some bait but it was deep so we continued on our way. The water was getting warmer and bluer as we approached Browns. Groups of Mutton birds and Albatrosses became more evident the wider we went. The birds were definitely searching as opposed to travelling.
We continued on out searching with the birds but saw no action other than a couple of big Sunfish. I saw the occasional large splash in the distance which I thought were probably Sunfish too. We continued out to the 500 fathom line and saw a Long liner in the distance . Well obviously we had to have a look. We didn’t find his line but we did find a 0.3 degree temperature break.
In the distance Skip saw a school of Sauries take to the air. There were big splashes behind them as some type of reasonable sized fish, probably tuna, chased them. We spent some time in the area but found no other activity.
So that was the day. Other than the school of Sauries and the Sunfish we saw no other action. But it did look good and we felt something might happen at any second. The water looked good, the colour was good the temperature got to 22 degrees . The birds were definitely acting like something was in the area. The only thing I could fault was that the current was running North. I guess you have to blame something.
November is when the warm water currents from the North start to move inshore and push further South. Consequently with this warm water come the great pelagics, Marlin, Spearfish, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi. It is also when club fisher people get excited about their first Marlin trophies and the competition can be fierce.
So with the ‘First Marlin’ trophy ( tagged ) for the Sydney Game Fishing Club in mind we went out hunting. The plan was to do a drop on Browns and then head out wider to where there was an eddy developing.
On the way we went over a couple of offshore reefs and on the 9 mile the sounder showed a heap of fish in min-water. It was too good an opportunity to miss. So out came the jigs and it wasn’t long before we had a few nice Kings on board.
We were after Marlin so with a feed on board and temperature over 23 C out went the lures.
To say conditions looked good would be an understatement. Temperature over 23 degrees, a clear deep blue colour, patches of bait in mid-water and enough chop to make it interesting. The stage was set all we needed were the actors.
Unfortunately we reached Browns without interruption. We did a couple of laps without result and decided to do a drop. To cut a long story short we managed a Deep Sea Perch and the smallest Gemfish I have ever seen. Consequently it was back to trolling. In the meantime I heard one of the boats capturing a Spearfish being and another losing two Marlin around the ‘Bait Station’. Also another boat was fighting a good sized Tiger shark.
We trolled North and out. Unfortunately the water went dirty and cooled so I moved inshore until I found the Southerly current then headed North. Sadly we didn’t find any action and the radio had gone quiet. On a positive note the water warmed as we went North and inshore from the shelf to around 70 fathoms there was heaps of bait.