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.
The aim was to get out to the warm current the charts were showing running south behind Browns.
Leaving the harbour the water was a very dirty green. I had expected the water to clear up around the 12 mile but it was only slightly better, being what I call ‘clean green’ and slightly warmer. At ninety fathoms it was improving but strangely whereas I hadn’t noticed any floating debris in the water up until now between eighty and ninety fathoms there was a lots of it, ranging in size from small twigs to decent sized branches, a time for caution.
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.
We did cover a lot of water, going out to a thousand fathoms, down the thousand fathom line, back into Browns, up the shelf, down the shelf and finally back into the 12 mile. We did catch several Mahi Mahi on our travels, all in the middle of nowhere and curiously none around any floating material. There were also lots of Dolphins but they weren’t stopping just travelling North.
On the radio I did hear of what was described as a big Striped Marlin but it was taken off Shellharbour. In fact I heard nothing locally the whole day and only saw two other boats out wide.
So that was the day, a nice feed some great weather and good company, what more could you ask for – would a marlin or two be too much !!
To say that this year’s ‘La Nina’ event has caused unmitigated disruption would be a monstrous understatement. Other than the floods and onshore destruction it has affected the fishery all the way down the coast. The flooding pushing water like mud out to the shelf and down the coast bringing down huge amounts of debris. Consequently, making the need for great caution while travelling offshore. I know I am not the only one but I have never seen anything like this summer that was. By far the worst fishing I have experienced. Even when the weather did clear, you had to be either very good or very lucky to find anything.
As with all things time fixes all and though the water has cleared a fair bit there is still a lot of debris being carried in the currents. One boat travelling down from Port Stephens reported a huge tree which they saw only because as it rolled in the sea a branch rose above the surface. They said the tree was huge.
Over the last couple of weeks the Marlin fishing has been improving up around Port Stephens. And it appears the fish are moving South.
‘Reef Magic’ travelling down from Port Stephens raised several fish and tagged three Striped Marlin and a Black, another boat ‘Riverview’ was pack attacked, haveing four or five Marlin hitting their lures. All this action happened at the Norah Canyons.
So, it would appear the bite is moving South and with a bit of luck arrive on our doorstep to coincide with the ‘Peter Goadby Memorial Tournament’ run by the Sydney Game Fishing Club. Entry forms available from the club’s web site www.sgfc.com.au
Additionally, and historically, Autumn has been the best time to fish for big fish off Sydney. Especially for big Blue Marlin but there are also the bigger Striped Marlin, Mahi Mahi and even Wahoo and Spearfish.
Nearly every year the ‘PG Tournament’ capture section is won by Blues over two hundred kilo’s with fish over three hundred kilo’s regularly encountered.
With bad weather predicted until early next week chances are that the Tournament weekend will be good and the fish up North will be here, I hope !
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.
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.
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.
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.