I went out yesterday with Daniel’s Group, American soldiers here for the exercises, again not really confident, especially after looking at the SST charts. They were not showing any real feature. No temperature breaks, in fact hardly any temperature variation between shore and a thousand fathoms. The only reasonable feature being the zero line was reachable.
Anyway, I went out despite the SST’s hoping that because of their low resolution I’d be able to find something to work with.
We put the lures in at the Twelve Mile, always the chance of an early season Marlin there, and worked our way out. As I neared the shelf I got a call from ‘Finfinder’ telling me they had landed a Yellowfin of around fifteen kilo’s wide of Browns. Well, that was incentive enough and I headed off that way.
Whales and Dolphins
There were plenty of Whales, Dolphins and Pilot Whales to see but bait and birds were scarce. Still we continued on getting out to the thousand fathom line sadly with no result, so headed back in.
On the way in I saw a ‘bust up’ but by the time I got there it was all over. I worked the area for a while however they never came up again so continued on my merry way. ‘Finfinder’ had also found nothing out wider so was also on their way back in. Just as I noticed them on the horizon I saw another ‘bust up’ and this one was close by, as I skirted the area we hooked up. I called ‘Finfinder’ in and within minutes they also hooked up. Both fish eventually landed and both roughly the same size, 25 to 30 kilo’s.
Interestingly the Yellowfin we caught had been eating Sauries which were hardly digested. Yet in all the time we trolled the area we never saw a single sign of Sauries.
We both worked the area for quite a while with no result.
So, there are still some Yellowfin around and should make it interesting for this week-end’s Sydney Game Fishing Club’s Monster Mako Tournament since there is a major prize for both the biggest and most tagged Yellowfin.
Went out last Thursday with Chuck, his wife and son on board from New York State chasing September Yellowfin. I was not very optimistic about the day. The weather wasn’t as good as expected in fact verging on horrible and recent fishing reports were hopeless. There were a few Yellowfin off Kiama and further South and the Marlin and Yellowfin reports I’d heard from the Port Stephens area had dried up. However, on the way out I did hear a couple of boats fishing inshore catching what sounded like some good Snapper.
When I went past the 12 mile there was one boat there and with the North Easterly already doing fifteen to eighteen knots and the residual sea from the day before it wasn’t pleasant, so I can’t imagine they stayed there for very long.
Chuck and his family were still happy to be there, so we continued on. I went North to at least get a comfortable ride home. It really wasn’t looking good. No bait schools around the shelf, no birdlife to mention and only eighteen degrees water temperature with no breaks, but there were lots of whales.
I got a huge surprise when in two hundred fathoms the rigger went off with what appeared to be a good fish running hard, sadly it dropped off just as quickly. Then in around three hundred fathoms I saw a heap of Gannets sitting on the water with some occasionally diving in. As we drew closer I saw there was a big block of wood with a big Mako lying under it, a good sign for next weekend’s Mako Tournament. I passed the lures close to the block of wood and to my surprise a school of Mahi Mahi charged in. The SST was only eighteen degrees and the water green. We ended up with two nice Mahi Mahi before they spooked. I worked the area for a while but nothing else appeard.
Further on we got a good hit on the shotgun and line screamed off, this was a Yellowfin. After a good fight Chuck’s son brought it to gaff for a very happy and tired angler.
And so ended the day. The wind had picked up to over twenty knots and the decision was made to head for home – nice down hill run it was too.
That’s how it goes what looked like it was going to be a futile day ended well with the guys catching their biggest fish and something to eat to boot.
It is fair to say that this winter’s fishing has been unusual to say the least. Earlier on, just a few weeks ago we had a run of big Yellowfin, what I have heard called the Fijian Yellowfin. It would be interesting to know if these fish have actually come in on a current of tropical origin, i.e. Fijian Yellowfin, it would go a long way into explaining the appearance of some of the other warm water fish we have seen lately.
At the same time as these Yellowfin, I will call them the Fijian Yellowfin, turned up we experienced a very short run of Bluefin with several over one hundred kilo’s caught. Yet at the same time there were a couple of Blue Marlin and Striped Marlin taken, sighting of Mahi Mahi and the weirdest of all more than a few Spearfish caught. So, a strange mix of warm and cold water species.
At present we are catching smaller Yellowfin in the twenty five to forty kilo range though a couple of bigger ones have been taken. In the past these smaller fish were found in large schools, often busting up, and when you found them you’d get multiple hook-ups. However, lately to find the fish you have to cover a lot of ground and the hook-ups are from blind strikes in the middle of nowhere with little if any bird activity to indicate their presence.
The last time I was out, a couple of days ago, we caught a couple of thirty kilo ‘fin. The first in three hundred fathoms South-East of Browns and the second in seven hundred fathoms on the same line. There were few birds around in fact for all intents and purposes the area looked barren. What was of interest was that the fish had been eating what looked like baby octopus or squid, hard to tell at the size they were, about two centimetres long and transparent. It amazed me that the fish were feeding on really small bait and yet still took old ‘Brad’.
Sydney Yellowfin tuna have been showing up in reasonable number. Everyone want to have a go at these Sydney Yellowfin tuna.
After checking the weather reports and seeing three different scenarios I thought I’d give Mikko and his friends the option to postpone. However, the lure of the fish ruled and the decision was made to go on out and see what the weather does. Exactly what we used to do before ( in the old days ) before everyone had computers and GPS.
The plan was to head out to where some fairly slack water was edging up to a slightly warmer and faster Southerly current.
When we headed out the weather was quite good but at around 10:30 the South Wester started to show it teeth and that combined with a building Southerly swell in the warmer water made it quite ugly.
I worked the edge for a while unsuccessfully and since couple of the guys were decidedly green I moved back into the slack water which was marginally calmer and headed to where we had caught the fish on the last trip. We had just reached the general area when we had a double hook up. It’s amazing what a shot of adrenalin can do. All hands were on deck and ready to go. The rough sea made it tough going but both fish around the 30 to 40 kilo’s mark were brought in.
Meanwhile the South-Easter had dropped off a little so I headed back out to sea and was rewarded with another double hookup and almost twin Yellowfin of the previous pair were brought on board. Rob hadn’t even reset the gear when we had another strike and while that was happening something grabbed my teaser and was stripping line off the teaser reel. I have never had a Yellowfin do that, plenty have hit the teaser but none have tried to escape with it. I guessed it might have been a Marlin but not having seen anything, who knows.
In the mean time the wind had turned to the South and picked up again. So, with five Yellowfin aboard and a happy crew I started trolling home.
The Sydney tuna run is coming. With a much-awaited moderation in the weather and reports of the Sydney Tuna with Yellowfin North of us and Bluefin to the South with both groups getting closer I had to get out there.
The plan was to head East around to where there was some interesting looking water around Heatons. Out there a cooler Northerly current was eddying on the Eastern edge of a warmer tongue of water from the North, all looking very fishy in theory.
We put the lures in at eighty fathoms after dodging all the whales, there’s always the chance of a Striped Marlin around the shelf and headed out.
As it was we didn’t encounter anything on the way and as you can see or rather hear in the video below the wind was howling. When we reached the warmer water, the conflicting currents caused the already uncomfortable sea to stand up. To my great surprise there were a couple of smaller boats out there too – I know I wouldn’t have been there in those conditions in a boat smaller than mine – hell, I didn’t even like it in mine.
We spent a little time in the area but there was neither bird activity nor bait so I picked a relatively comfortable course and started heading inshore. On the way I heard one boat say they had caught a couple of Albacore wide of Heatons, another had caught a Yellowfin somewhere inside Heatons yet another had caught a Spearfish wide of the Bait Station. Oddly enough it was the third Spearfish I’ve heard of recently…strange times.
On the way Home…
To cut a long story short I was trolling towards the Bait Station when if five hundred fathoms we were rudely awakened by three rods screaming off. Fortunately, since there were only three of us on board, myself the client and my deckhand, one dropped off. Rob took one of the rods and muscled the Yellowfin to the boat in ten minutes while Colin kept tension on his fish keeping it out of the way until the other was landed. Colin took a little longer but he duly brought his fish to the gaff.
So, an interesting day with a good result and hopefully the start of a good Tuna season. The Bluefin aren’t far away and there are enough Yellowfin to make it interesting.
Inshore there are Kings on the reefs and in the harbour and for those in the know some good Snapper too.
The Peter Goadby Tournament was certainly held on an interesting week-end.
Saturday saw seventeen boats head out into what were ideal conditions. There had been reports of Yellowfin a little South of us, Blue Marlin were evident, Striped Marlin were apparent having pack attacked a couple of boats including mine, there was a Black Marlin speared at Long Reef and to top it off the FAD’s were loaded with Mahi Mahi. In the past this tournament has produced big Blue Marlin and Yellowfin so anticipation was high.
Sadly, the fish just weren’t there. The water was good, over 24 degrees at the shelf. There was bird and bait activity to be found out wide though you did have to cover some ground to find it. Trouble was, to the detriment of a couple of boats, that were the birds and bait were there were no predators.
There was, however, bait on the shelf and as Little Audrey and Greyhound found it did produce some Striped Marlin. Little Audrey tagging three and Greyhound one. Most other boats found Mahi Mahi many of which were in the middle of nowhere, shame was there were none of the usual bigger ones.
Peter Goadby Blue…
I started trolling just inside the shelf and found patches of bait then worked my way out to the thousand fathom line. On the way out the water was cooling and the birds and bait thinned out. By then both Little Audrey and Greyhound had each tagged a Marlin so I started coming back in. I was around the two hundred fathoms area, no bait nor birds, when the rigger went off.
The fish didn’t jump just screamed off, so thoughts were of a Yellowfin. This was a very strange fish, Black in colour…not a Black Marlin but a very dark coloured Blue Marlin, unlike anything I have ever seen before. Still it put up a solid fight certainly making Mark work, but we did eventually tag it. Then we heard Little Audrey had tagged another two Striped Marlin, tomorrow has got to be good.
Sunday’s weather wasn’t looking too good but you have to be in it to win it so I headed off to the club in high spirits only to have them dashed as a Gale warning was issued for waters South of Port Hacking meaning we could not go fishing. NSWGFA rules stipulate that if there is a Gale warning in your zone fishing is cancelled. We made the decision to wait for the 10:00 am. weather update and hope for the lifting of the Gale.
The Gale warning was lifted. We could go out which was interesting in itself. The wider we went the bigger the swell got and near the shelf it got even steeper but it wasn’t too bad and was dropping off. Through the day the seven boats that went out caught only one Marlin, a Stripy and several Mahi Mahi.
It was an interesting two days, sadly the fish weren’t there but there is always next time.
After spending the last couple of weekends up at Port Stephens where the only game in town was to chase small Black Marlin it was a pleasure to come back to home territory to see what is happening down here and chase some February Marlin.
Up at the Port the run of Blacks which I’m sure most of you have heard about has been quite remarkable. The fish ranging from fifteen kilo’s up to forty kilo’s with the occasional larger one thrown in. Those in the know tagging numbers up to the high teens in a day.
For those of us lesser mortals it was still achievable to tag up to four or five a day. Stealth however was required. Light leaders, smaller hooks and light line to fool these fish which were being harassed by innumerable boats every day. In general it paid to fish during the week. There may have been only forty or fifty boats out during the week. Whereas during weekends there were around one hundred and fifty boats. However, you could simply wait for bad weather and hope it keeps the numbers down.
Back in Sydney
I went out yesterday and fished most of the day in a 20 knot North-Easter which is not the most comfortable of conditions to fish in. Fortunately the guys coped very well so we got the whole day in.
I started out trolling in close with small lures hoping for a Black and looking for bait. Neither of which I found. I worked my way out wider. The water temperature and colour getting better as we went out. On the way we caught quite a few Skipjacks but none of the small Yellowfin which I’d heard could be found amongst the Stripies.
To my surprise just inside the shelf the temperature reached 27 degrees Centigrade and over the edge went up to 27.4 C which I thought was too warm. However we saw several groups of birds working on something. There were a few flying fish around but after working around the birds and pods of Dolphins we neither raised nor marked anything and weren’t even catching the Stripies anymore.
I decided to go back into the cooler water where there was some life at least. We had just hit 24.5 C in about 75 fathoms when the shotgun took off at a rate of knots. I could see it was a Marlin and for some odd reason assumed it was a Black. Probably because I’d seen so many lately. But as it neared the boat it was apparent. It was indeed a Striped Marlin which had stayed deep throughout the fight. We did get it boatside but when Rob took the leader it played up and wore through the trace and I lost my favourite Brad ‘J’.
Next time I’m going to try and get to the other side of the hot water. I’ve heard there are Yellowfin and after listening to the scheds from the Port Stephens Shootout over the weekend there should also be some Blue Marlin.
Though I can’t compare fishing December 2022 with December 2021, due to Covid and associated lockdowns. Below is a report from December 2020 to show what should be.
In general, so far this year the offshore has been pretty well non-descript.
I did my first charter on a double with Hammerhead Charters off Port Stephens last week. There were substantiated reports of Striped Marlin, Mahi Mahi and Yellowfin and lots of bait in the area the day before I went out. But as luck would have it the weather turned it on on the Friday and we went out into a rising sea and 20 knots of South-Easterly. To the clients credit surprisingly they lasted the whole day.
The warmest water I found was around the FAD , from there on the temperature dropped. Out on the shelf even though it was rough the water looked great but there were only patches of bait and it was all deep and no birds. Hammerhead did manage a 6kg. Mahi Mahi and that was it for the day.
After returning to Sydney I heard that the bait previously reported off Port Stephens had moved down to the Norah Canyons and I later heard there was bait building up on the shelf off Sydney
So it looks like we just need the predators to find their food.
December Reports’20 :-
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…
It’s November offshore and it feels like forever since I have had anything to write about and I suppose in all fairness I still don’t have anything much to report.
I will start by saying that I have never experienced the fishing off Sydney to be so bad for such a long period of time. Sadly, I must say that in our last five or six outings, covering on average around eighty nautical miles a day and out to a thousand fathoms, we haven’t, other than a few Kingfish, caught anything more than a few Striped and Mackerel Tuna.
On a brighter note I did hear that for those fishing inshore there are some good Snapper spooking around if you know what you’re doing.
My own theory for the poor pelagic fishery is that the runoff from the floods up and down the coast has affected the normal flow of the offshore currents. The outflows from the rivers have spewed out huge amounts of nutrients creating plankton blooms. As a result the water inshore has varied from ‘clean green’ to virtual ‘mud’. These recent floods have been more than excessive and have also pushed the good water further out. The outflows are normally beneficial providing the nutrients needed to start food chains. Anyway, hopefully the worst is over and the systems will go back to some form of normality. I have noticed the last couple of times out that the blue water is moving closer in shore but still very dead looking with very little bait and virtually no bird activity other than the migrating Mutton birds.
I am only writing this report because after coming in yesterday I felt some degree of confidence that things were changing for the better.
To cut a long story short after trolling out around Browns then to a thousand fathoms and up the past the Bait Station then trolling down the shelf and only catching a couple of Striped Tuna we headed for home.
Action at Last:-
Suddenly in eighty fathoms Ron started screaming Marlin! Marlin! I turned around to see that unmistakeable dorsal fin behind the Lumo Sprocket on the rigger. It came in twice then appeared to hook up, taking a good run and then doing its imitation of a window wiper. Before I could say anything it threw the lure, Bugger!. I turned around to go over the area again and halfway round the short corner with a Lumo Animal went off. This one seemed well hooked, no playing around this time. But then this one did it too and went into Window Wiper mode and also threw the lure, Bugger! Bugger!.
After examining the lures, one of the Marlin had attacked the swivel and been bill wrapped. On the other trace there was not a mark, the line was probably caught on one of its fins. One must wonder how Striped Marlin survive if they miss their prey so readily.
Even though we didn’t get to tag the fish it was the most action I have seen in ages and motivation to get out there again.
P.S. : I hadn’t planned on taking Ambition up to Port Stephens next year for the Marlin season but I have access to another boat and will be available from mid-January until the end of March for charters.
Well it did turn out to be a good day for Yellowfin. Not so much weatherwise though.
We had a shot early for Kingfish but it must have been too early for them. We only had jigs and eventually managed to lose what seemed to be a good fish.
So, it was offshore we went. The wind was blowing around 15 to 20 knots from the South-West but predicted to ease early in the afternoon. However, as we approached the shelf and the nearly 2 knot Northerly current the resonable swell turned into some really steep nasties. Conditions didn’t seem to be worrying the guys so I continued out and just then had a take on the shotgun. At first I thought it was just a Stripy but it turned out to be a Yellowfin of about 7kilo’s, enough incentive to keep on going.
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.
It wasn’t too much later that the rigger went off again and this was a very much bigger fish taking a screamer of a run. Then before I could slow down the flat line took off, again a screamer. Sadly, the second fish dropped off after a few minutes but the other one was still going. It took a while and a toll on the angler but after twenty odd minutes we had our third Yellowfin, this one about 35 kilo’s.
So, what started out with an interesting sunrise turned into a great if not uncomfortable day’s fishing. Interestingly all the fish were blind strikes without any bird activity. But I guess it did show that the rough days are the good ones, at least for Yellowfin.