First of a Happy New Year to everyone and hopefully a Healthy one too.
I went out finally after what seemed an eternity of bad weather. Reports came in of Striped Marlin around the shelf and good-sized Dollies appearing too.
I decided to stay in close for the first couple of hours for a couple of reasons. Firstly the water is exceptionally warm for this time of year and secondly, generally around Christmas, New Year the Black Marlin show up on the inshore reefs.
I ran some small Pakulas in my favourite colours and headed North. Conditions were fabulous to say the least. We passed over huge bait schools, didn’t mark anything but it certainly looked the goods.
After going around the Whale a couple of times we had a hit on the Lumo and a small, very small Black came to the surface but sadly missed the hooks. Further on another strike but this one stayed attached and we landed a Mahi Mahi, on one of Peter’s Fish Prints, which went 110 cm. A surprising fish to catch so close to shore.
In our travels we found several private FAD’s and caught another couple of Mahi Mahi’s.
A couple of boats on the shelf reported catching Striped Marlin however they were really spread out. One tagged by John Sartori from his boat Shoki was out in 400 fathoms were he also saw some Yellowfin jumping. Another a Black was taken around the 12 Mile.
A surprising catch, also inshore was a very small Wahoo (see the photo attached) subsequently released from David Moses’ boat My Molly. Wahoo are a rare catch off Sydney these days.
Well, we continued in our hunt going wide to the Bait Station and beyond. There was heaps of bait pretty well everywhere, there was bird activity, the stage was set but sadly for us the show didn’t get under way.
The fact is, it is still fairly early in the season but with the amount of bait both inshore, out around the shelf and wider it is surely only a matter of time
To get back out to sea was indeed good for the soul. Though the relief was great the results left a lot to be desired at least as far as the Game Fishing went.
We left the harbour on Saturday in beautiful weather it being a surprise that the BOM were quite accurate.
Reports from out wide indicated that there were Yellowfin and Marlin off Port Stephens and that the Yellowfin run to the South had eased but there had been Marlin encountered down there. So again Sydney was missing out. Consequently Kingfish became the best option. Reports through the week indicated good catches of sizeable fish on the offshore reefs. However when we got to there there were a million and one boats already hard at it. We dropped a couple of baits to no avail and didn’t see anyone else catching so I moved off to try the other reefs sadly all with the same result. Whether we’d missed the bite or the full moon or the number of boats had anything to do with the shut down we’ll never know but at least we had excuses.
We ended up going wide on the off chance that something would give.
I did end up finding birds working over some bait and Striped tuna just over the shelf. I worked the area for some time but there were no takers so headed off to home.
On the way in we had another shot at the Kings but there was even less showing on the sounder that earlier. Again we had no takers so we were throttles down and homeward bound.
Though it was frustrating as far as the fishing went it was still great to be at sea again and in good weather to boot.
Well thankfully it seems as though we are on track to open up Mid-October. I am pretty sure there are lots of anglers out there just waiting to reconstitute the salt concentration in their blood.
It appears from those who have been able to get out to sea that we have missed a really good Tuna bite. Though it is too late to expect the Bluefin the Yellowfin are still to be found off Sydney. From what I have seen on the charts there should also be a Marlin or two to be found.
Just to remind those who might have forgotten I have uploaded a couple of video’s from October’s past to show that the Tuna season is not over done.
So yes, we are ready to go fishing just as soon as the lockdown is lifted. And yes I am taking bookings from the 20th. October’21 out of Sydney and I’ll be chartering off Port Stephens during February next year. The only proviso is that you must be Double vaxxed.
The most amazing thing about Easter this year was the weather. It could not have been more conducive to good fishing. It was just a shame that the Easter fishing wasn’t as good as the weather.
Not to say there were no fish around, it was just difficult to keep up to the Yellowfin once found and the Marlin either weren’t sticking or they just hit and the wrong lures, by that I mean they would hit the Profrigies or Squidgies (or whatever they are called) which are not really designed for Marlin and they do like them. The problem being that their weight, even though they are meant to slide up the leader, makes them easy for the Marlin to throw.
As it happened there were good days when the fish bit more readily and those not so good days when try as you might the fish just stayed out of reach.
I went out on Saturday after hearing of a good bite on Friday when quite a few Yellowfin and Marlin were caught. Saturday was one of those not so good days. We put the lures in at the shelf and proceeded to troll out to the wide grounds. There was bait in the form of Striped tuna and flying fish aplenty around the shelf but no hits.
We reached an area in 700 fathoms where the water was ideal and a few birds were scouting around. There was another boat in the area also. So the hunt began. Eventually I spotted some fish busting up a few hundred metres ahead. I put the throttles down to try and get to them whilst they were feeding and as I did you wouldn’t believe it the other boat hooked up. I think he caught his fish and we followed the school until they vanished.
We continued on our search hearing about the occasional encounters with Tuna and Marlin.
Then just ahead some bait started jumping and was quickly followed up by a school of Yellowfin busting up right in front of us. They were so close I couldn’t avoid running through them.
As I turned to make another pass the shotgun took a hit but sadly no hook-up. I think another case of a Marlin hitting the wrong lure. As evidenced by the scuffing in the leader.
On our way home there was bait everywhere, Striped tuna on the shelf in closer frigate mackerel and off the heads slimy mackerel everywhere.
All the ingredients are there for a great late season bite. As I have mentioned before the Sydney Game Fishing Club’s Peter Goadby Memorial Tournament has in the past been when it all comes together. So with the tournament on in a couple of weeks ( 17th. and 18th. April ) all fingers crossed and sacrifices made to the weather Gods we can look forward to some good if not great fishing.
Sydney’s Game Fishing is at its best from the middle of March through April and sometimes into the middle of May Sydney’s Game Fishing is the best . It is also why the Sydney Game Fishing Club holds its annual Peter Goadby Memorial Tournament at this time of year, actually on the 17th. and 18th. April this year.
Over the years Blue Marlin over 250 kilo’s have usually taken out the heaviest trophy and a couple of years Blues over 300 kilo’s have done the job with bigger ones lost. There have been Yellowfin over 70 kilo’s, Striped and Black Marlin in their larger sizes as well as Mahi Mahi and the occasional Wahoo that make their presence felt and the tournament a success.
So back to my report…finally this year the weather has stabalised to a degree giving us the opportunity to go out and see what’s there. After all the flooding up and down the coast we had no idea of what to expect. Checking out the ‘True Colour’ charts showed muddy water out to near the shelf. However with fine weather predicted we just had to go out and have a look.
To say the water was like chocolate out to 60 fathoms would be an understatement however it was still surprisingly warm. At 80 fathoms it turned to what I call a clean green and just over the shelf it started to Blue up, near the 140 fathom it was the colour we want and 25.5 C and there were Striped tuna everywhere so many so the I pulled in the smaller lures to stop from hooking them.
Al McGlashin came over the radio saying he’d caught a Yellowfin and while pulling it in a couple of Blue Marlin followed it right up to the boat. Jeff Manson of ‘Spindrift’ tagged a 2.4 metre Blue Marlin as a first for a lady angler and Bob Curry of ‘Marquis’ had a stellar day tagging two Striped Marlin and catching a 50 kilo Yellowfin.
All around us reports were coming in of schools of Yellowfin tuna from 200 fathoms out past the 1,000 fathom line.
As we continued out we found groups of Mutton birds working in small areas over baitfish and Striped tuna. Other groups showed what I considered to be Yellowfin marking deeper down. I made the decision to pull in my shotgun lure and put out a Squidgy I don’t like to do this when there are Marlin around, I should know better. I would like to say at this point that Murphy and his law are a bitch. The Squidgy hadn’t been out for five minutes when a Blue Marlin came in and destroyed it, a lesson learned again.
We continued on working the bait schools without anything happening when again in another bait school I marked fish deeper down. With a fair degree of apprehension we changed over to the Squidgy again. After quite a while working around this school we got the hit which thankfully was a Yellowfin.
So it appears that it is all coming together out there. We have hot water, Blue Marlin and Yellowfin who could ask for more.
April and our tournament should live up to their reputations.
It constantly surprises me how the sea conditions can change from one day to the next.
I went out last Friday in less than ideal sea conditions which were supposed to ease through the day. Anyway at the Heads the water temperature was nearly 24 degrees and blue. On Saturday in much calmer conditions the temperature had dropped by about one and a half degrees and was dirty green.
Conditions on Friday were such that because I couldn’t travel comfortably I started trolling just off the Heads. Even though it has happened often in the past I was still taken by surprise when the small lure on the rigger was hit and a baby Black started bouncing in towards us. Sadly as often happens when the fish comes straight at you the hooks were thrown. We continued on out towards the wave rider where the sea was really standing up, in fact I dipped one of the riggers. There were birds working around the wave rider but we never raised anything and only saw some very very small Mahi Mahi. Conditions weren’t getting any better so I decided to do a downhill troll to the Peak to give the guys a rest. On the way we raised a Striped Marlin which proceeded to attack all our lures without even breaking a band.
So because of the sea conditions I stayed inshore and in the course of the day we tagged two Black Marlin, raised another two which came unstuck as well as a Striped Marlin. Even though it was quite rough it was pleasant being out there alone with a quiet radio.
Saturday was another story but at least the sea was quite calm (relatively anyway). As I said the water was much cooler and a dirty green out for quite a distance. Again I started trolling in close but it soon became apparent that everything had changed. There were still a few Blacks taken in close on live baits but it hardly seemed worthwhile. So out we went. The water did warm up and turned the blue colour we like. There was a bit of deep bait and plenty of both small and large flying fish which the Mutton birds were trying to catch. There were also lots of Striped Tuna which were a nuisance on my smaller lures. To top things off the current was raging, doing three to four knots to the South. Definitely not conducive to allowing the bait to hold station.
Sadly the day was a dud.
Being ever hopeful the current will ease soon and allow the bait to hold on the shelf and the inshore reefs and attract the pelagics. This is usually the time of year for the big fish. They might not be around in numbers but they usually make up for it in size.
Marlin Port Stephens…this year was a far cry from previous years. Maybe it was the effect of La Nina maybe the moon but whatever it was it was tough going while I was there.
The Marlin Port Stephens fishery was seriously affected by the weather this year. Other than having to cancel and postpone several charters I only made it out to the shelf a couple of times. There were great expectations after last year’s season when there was bait and Marlin aplenty on the edge. This year there was hardly any bait out there and with the current raging at near 4 knots and the temperature up to 27 degrees, conditions were not conducive to holding bait, consequently no Striped Marlin. However there were Blue Marlin out there in the current but hard work and perseverance was needed to find them. Most were not big fish by Blue Marlin standards but still exciting to catch and bigger than the average Stripey and monstrous compared to the Blacks in shore.
Because of the weather and conditions off shore most anglers have been concentrating on the Black Marlin on the inshore reefs. These Marlin are ranged from 15 to 60 kilo’s and more in size making for some interesting fights on 10 kilo line.
The small Blacks are, to me at least, the most frustrating fish to catch. Up here at Port there are several well-known reefs and areas which hold bait and consequently the Blacks. The situation occurs when you might have twenty or thirty boats all milling around a relatively small area trolling baits for a limited resource. Watching others catch fish and waiting your turn is to say the least very frustrating. This season, to get away from the crowds, several boats travelled past Seal Rocks almost to Foster looking for the Blacks and I might add they did find them. These Blacks however are fickle, or maybe the boats were putting them down, but you were never sure which reef was going to produce the goods.
Towards the end of my stay the weather eased so after having had enough of the inshore fishery it was out to the shelf to hunt. As I mentioned earlier there was very little bait on the shelf. There had been a few Blue Marlin taken further South, around the Norah Canyons, so it was out with the lures to head out wider. Anyway to cut a long story short we did find Blues but had to cover a lot of miles.
I think that when the current eases the outside scene will take off, both up North and down here off Sydney. Records show that March and sometimes into the middle of May is the best time to go game fishing off Sydney. The fish may not be in huge numbers but they more than make up for it in size. This time of year also often heralds the arrival of big Yellowfin tuna, generally well wide of the shelf.
At Port Stephens Black Marlin are the name of the game at present.
The Port Stephens Black Marlin of varying sizes are chasing bait on the inner reefs. A lot of anglers expecting to find the usual inshore run of 20 to 30 kilo’s fish are being beaten on light tackle by Blacks getting up to 80kgs. with reports of even larger fish too.
Sadly, I think mostly because of the weather, the offshore scene is bit of an unknown. A few boats have ventured out wide but not with any great success. Further South, around the Norah Canyons, the results are a little better though still not what we would expect at this time of year.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next two weeks with many boats fishing the local tournaments here at Port Stephens.
If the weather doesn’t stabalise there will be an awful lot of boats on those inshore reefs.
Well the Marlin bite is on, any Game Fisherman who hasn’t heard about the Marlin bite off Sydney must live in a cave.
The Marlin bite came on a while ago but really stepped up to a new level several days ago. The bait in the form of Slimy Mackerel and Yellowtail came in from the shelf with the East Australia Current and built up on the shelf and inshore reefs. At the same time the annual run of Black Marlin reached Sydney waters; perfect timing.
Usually this run of Blacks are on the smaller size but this year there are some good sized fish among them. Those using lighter lines are having a lot of unexpected fun fighting Blacks of seventy kilo’s and larger.
At the same time further offshore, around the shelf, Striped Marlin have turned up in numbers. They are fairly widespread but if you are lucky enough to find them you will be rewarded with multiple hook ups. Striped Marlin being what they are can be difficult to hook on lures but by using bait, either Skipping, live or switching you increase the odds. Also, as with the Blacks, there are some larger fish among them.
I was out on Saturday in quite a lively sea and because I couldn’t find the bait was using lures. However I did manage one Striped Marlin from three strikes which was frustrating especially since several boats further South and North had had multiple hook-ups. What was interesting was that the water wasn’t terribly warm at only 21.6C and on the shelf green in colour whereas inshore it was a good blue colour. However neither the colour nor the temperature seemed to affect the fish the only problem for most was getting a solid hook up.
Sunday was a totally different day, dead calm and the water a lot warmer. Inshore there was a lot more bait and a better bite than the previous day. Several boats ended up tagging multiple Blacks however it was still apparently hard work. I didn’t bother looking for bait inshore and headed directly for the shelf because of my results the previous day. I trolled lures for most of the day only getting one strike which didn’t hold. There was plenty of bait so after finding a good school up high we managed to jig some. They weren’t as big as the inshore Slimy Mackerel but we rigged them and went hunting with skip baits. I won’t go on with the boring details but we never saw another fish. Meanwhile both South and North of us there were boats doing well with multiple strikes and hook ups.
The one thing of interest for me anyway, was that the water along the shelf started to warm up and at one stage I registered over 26 degrees though it was still green. Over the radio a couple of boats further out talked of Blue Marlin which was highly credible considering the temperature and bait.
In general it does look like a great start to the Marlin season so here’s hoping.
Many years ago one of the greats of Game Fishing, one Jack Farrell told me that the wet years are the good years for Game Fishing. So, with the onset of a ‘La Nina’ weather system which promises rain we could indeed expect a good season.
P.S. I’m off to Port Stephens soon and still have a few free days left so get in fast…
Reports were coming in of Striped Marlin and some good sized Mahi Mahi around the shelf and the odd Yellowfin further out. So after I cancelled a couple of charters because of the Virus I decided I was going out no matter what. I received quick responses from members wanting to join me after a post to the club’s facebook page so all was set.
Unfortunately due to cloud cover the only SST’s available were from several days beforehand but I’d been told the temps were around the 22 to 23 C so it was all systems go.
The forecast was for light winds and calm seas. However 15 to 18 knots is not exactly light winds and the sea was a mess with a residual swell coming from the yesterday’s Southerly. So, that together with the bounce back from the cliffs made for an uncomfortable ride from which one of the crew succumbed.
We put the lures in just short of the shelf and headed out marking bait as we went but it was all deep. One of the boats out there, ‘Grey Goose’ , had already raised a Marlin but no hook-up. Later on a Mako hit one of their lures; it is not uncommon for Mako’s to hit lures and just to prove it wasn’t a fluke they raised another later in the day.
We continued marking bait and found some birds working on what looked like to be Striped tuna but we raised nothing after chasing them for a while. What we did find sadly was that the warmer water had moved out. The best I found was 21.6 C and that after a temperature break of 0.3 C .
It was while working the break that we had a double hook-up. Marlin was the call, but the sight of green and gold told a different story. We landed two good sized Dollies, supper was provided.
Several other boats reported hits from Striped Marlin, I think one tagged fish was estimated to weigh only 50 kilo’s. And then it was our turn, the shot gun went off, the Marlin took a bit of line then just dropped off. Damned Stripies, however he was still there following the lure. He/she had at least four other shots and missed each time and eventually lost interest.
We pulled the lure in to check it out and I found the leader chafed for nearly a metre above the lure. I know it happens all the time but it is so frustrating, they obviously know they want the lure but just keep missing it. Maybe they should get some lessons from their Black and Blue cousins.
So, that was the day, a good feed to take home and calm seas for the run.
I have booked in at Port Stephens from the 24th.January until the end of February. Not as long as previous years due to the virus but I hope next year’s season will be as good if not better than this year’s. So, if you do want to catch a Marlin, Port Stephens is the place to do it…