It has certainly been a long time between drinks on Ambition. At least now it looks like the bars are opening again. This metaphor for chartering is bringing some hope. We may not be able to take our full capacity of anglers but at least we’ll be able to get out there and get that much needed refill of salt into our veins.
Interestingly for those who have been able to get out results have been pretty good even though for some fish, namely Kingfish it has been a day to day proposition on both the inshore and offshore reefs.
Browns has apparently been doing ok for those deep dropping but over the last few days the current has made it difficult.
The Game Fishing scene is also hot and cold but that could be due to lack of fishing pressure. There have been a couple of Blue Marlin tagged and a couple of Striped Marlin lost. There are also a couple of Long Liners still working out wide. However I haven’t heard of any Yellowfin being taken recently.
I went out on Sunday for a look and stayed out cubing into the evening. We didn’t have any great success but did find there was heaps of bait . We found Slimies, Frigate Mackerel and Striped tuna well out beyond the shelf. In fact while we were cubing all we raised was a huge school of Slimies however nothing was eating them.
Being optimistic as you have to be to be a fisherman, I would like to believe that if the bait’s there the fish will come…
I brought Ambition back from Port Stephens last Monday. I fished all the way down starting just North of the ‘Car Park ‘ trolling skip baits.
The plan was originally to come back on Sunday but due to the weather on Saturday my charter was pushed back to Sunday. Consequently we made the trip back from Port Stephens on Monday. Surprisingly the weather was pretty good as we left the Port even though the week-end’s weather pad been pretty ordinary.
On the Leader…
The plan was to run out North of the ‘Car Park’, find some bait and troll skippies for an hour or so then put out the lures and work our way back home to Sydney.
All went to plan, we found some bait and slowed down to put out the skippies, Adam had just put out one . Then as he was setting the second one it was pulled out of his hand and a good sized Black tore off at a million miles an hour, so to speak. This fish gave a good account of itself giving us a good run for our money however the 24 kg. inevitably took its toll and the Black was soon released. Excitement all round as it was the angler’s first marlin.
A good Black…
So, with one fish under our belt, with the baits deployed we started again. It took a little longer to find the second fish and a bit more difficult to finally hook it. This Black came in on one of the skipped baits , hit it and dropped back without getting hooked. We then put out a live bait which it again picked up and again no hook up. Then while we were waiting and hoping for it to take the live bait again the other skipped bait was taken while it was sinking and this time the Black was hooked.
It was a strange fight in that the fish , quite a large Black that we called at least 120kg., never took a run and didn’t even go deep as you’d expect from a Black , So after a very short fight we dully released the Marlin .
Continuing our trip down we had changed over to lures. Oddly just past the Newcastle canyons the water started going green and cooling. I went closer looking for better water, no go. I went out to 500 fathoms , no change. Conditions didn’t change for the rest of the run down. We did however get a strike from a good sized Striped Marlin on the Southern edge of the Norah Canyons. On examining the leader it was obviously the fish had been bill wrapped. The water was only 21.5 C , green and apparently lifeless.
Conditions don’t seem to be getting any better off Sydney as we approach what I’ve always considered the best time of year for our offshore fishing.
But ever being the optimist , it will get better.Nothing stays the same for long in the ocean.
November is proving to be a good month for Yellowfin Tuna. Though not the big ones of a few months ago fish ranging from 8 to 30 kilo’s may be found.
I went out on Saturday after many cancellations due to bad weather, I was going out come hell or high water. As it turned out the marginal forecast for Saturday was wrong and it turned out great, no wind all day, overcast with an oily sea, just perfect.
I targeted an area in 1000 fathoms were it looked like a cooler water eddy was forming . We put the gear out inside the shelf just in case that Striped Marlin just happened to be lurking around. We put out a Stripy lure also.
It was all pretty quiet, with very little bird action though we did manage a couple of Striped Tuna so at least something was moving around. As we moved into the cooler water I started marking small schools of bait ( I assume ) down thirty to forty fathoms. We worked the area for a while and saw a couple of Sun fish and the occasional surface flurry from something unknown.
As I reached the other side of the eddy we had a screamer of a strike on the Shot Gun quickly followed by another on the Stripy lure and as Ron was clearing the lines yet another fish, we were on a triple.
As can only happen when Game Fishing a little madness followed. Ron went to sunset to get one of the fish in quickly which worked well until he got it close to the boat where it unfortunately cut off one of the other fish. That wouldn’t have been so bad but it was my favourite Brad ‘J’ that we lost.
We brought the other two to gaff, both fish in the 20 nto 25 kilo range, took some happy snaps and since it was now late we headed for home.
Due to the weather the Game Fishing November has been pretty dismal. It seemed that the weather is programmed to go bad on week-ends. However even those who managed to get out found the going tough. There had been a few Yellowfin and more that a couple of Marlin seen previously so it would be great to get out there again.
On another note the charts are showing the warm water moving closer inshore. All we need now is a weather window to find out what is going on.
Inshore the Kings are providing sport with some very large fish being caught. However the offshore reefs are a day to day proposition. A word of warning though – I remember November as being a stormy month and especially for very strong North-Westerly winds preceding Southerly changes so be careful.
As summer approaches my thoughts turn to Port Stephens and Marlin.
I will be available up there from 18th.January ’20 until mid-March. I anticipate travelling up on the 18th. so if anyone wants to join me for the trip give me a call. At this point in time I am still available for the ‘SHOOTOUT’ in mid-February.
Also, my regular crew for the INTERCLUB are all away at that time so if there are any SGFC Club member who would like to fish the tournament in late February, call me.
Spring Gamefishing is always a bit hit and miss but this Spring has been more unusual than most. The weather has been fickle and the currents even more so.
I went out late last week during a break in the weather . The charts showed some good water East of Browns and some colder water out a bit further, the edge was the target. There was a build up of bait just inside the shelf. So, hoping for that first Marlin the lures were put out.
Amazingly from just outside the shelf to about 250 fathoms there was huge amounts of bait. I can truly say I have only seen bait like that at Port Stephens. Needless to say I worked it for a while , didn’t mark anything so after about an hour moved wider to the temperature break.
On the way there was still a lot of bait but in smaller schools. The whole scene looked very fishy and just to prove it as I started to work the area we hooked a Yellowfin of around 25 kilo’s which made the inexperienced angler work for it. Their excitement was palpable.
I went out again on Sunday with some friends and club members. This time aiming for that first Marlin. After all the bait I had seen on my previous trip it had to be on the cards.
I couldn’t believe how much the water had changed. Inshore the water was blue and 20 degree but as we approached the shelf it got cooler and cooler. There was still plenty of bait around the shelf so out went the lures.
Strangely even though the water was getting cooler there was still huge amounts of bait out to 300 fathoms. A couple of boats South of me reported similar bait build ups. I surmise there was a warmer current below the cooler surface . Well we continued out but this time I was marking good fish deep around the bait. I made the decision to bring in my shotgun (Brad ‘J’) and put out a ‘Bluewater Livy’ . The idea was to stop the boat and let it drop into the bait school when I marked bigger fish around them.
As it happened the first time I tried it we hooked up. After a good fight that took two anglers we landed a Yellowfin of around 45 kilo’s. We continued, optimistism running high, unfortunately no more hook ups. Later in the day and well away from the bait I marked what I thought was a Marlin. Sure enough the ‘Lumo’ went off but no hookup. I knew I shouldn’t have left that ‘Bluewater Livy’ out there because Murphy stepped in and it went off in a screaming run and then just stopped.
Decisions, decisions, which way to go – do I go North or South, stay here or keep looking . These dilemmas are what I suppose most of us face every day we head out.
These were the thoughts going through my head as I headed out last Friday. In previous days other boats found Yellowfin East and South of Sydney between five hundred and a thousand fathoms. However I liked a patch of water showing on the charts to the North -East.
Because of the weather conditions I decided to go East, work my way South and come back with the wind.
Inside the shelf I found heaps of bait so put the lures out hoping for a Marlin which didn’t happen. We pushed on to the area were previous reports indicated Yellowfin encounters but there was no sign no life, no birds and no bait. I worked the area for a while to no avail. To save the day we put out a Stripy lure and caught a few Striped Tuna which as a fringe benefit cured some seasickness.
So Saturday came around and there was no decision to make. We were going North-East to the patch of water in three hundred fathoms.
Again , around the shelf there was a good build up of bait so we put the Marlin lures out in anticipation as well as a Stripy lure for insurance. We didn’t catch a Marlin but we did get a couple of Striped tuna. Then in the middle of nowhere the rigger with Blue Illusion went off and it definitely wasn’t a Stripy.
After a short fight before a very excited and less than experienced crew , as can be seen on the video, we landed a Yellowfin of around 25kgs. Photo’s taken we continued on. At this stage one of the clients who was quite sick started looking really bad with a couple of the others also looking the worst for wear. So with a nice fish on board we made the decision to head back. However since we were still in fishy waters I suggested we continue trolling for a little longer . Unbelievably another strike , Blue Illusion again, from obviously a much bigger fish this time and remarkably within a hundred metres of were we caught the first fish.
This Yellowfin went through two anglers and after and hour they brought to gaff. Back at the club it weighed in at 69 kilo’s.
Interestingly we caught both ‘fin on blind strikes with no indication of bait or bird life and in much shallower water than previous reports indicated. It makes you wonder just how many fish we drive over.
The other thing of interest is the build up of bait on and around the shelf . I don’t think it will be long before the Striped Marlin become more prevalent.
Unseasonal seems to be the catch cry at present. Even though the water temperature is quite normal for this time of year there have been species off Sydney that normally aren’t seen until the summer currents come in.
Though we do often see a run of bigger Mahi Mahi in November a few have turned up over the last couple of months in cold water. On Friday John Sartori in his new boat caught a good sized Spearfish that he estimated at 40kgs. and yesterday both Rob Curry and we on Ambition both hooked Spearfish also. Spearfish normally show up in the warmest water with Blue Marlin not in 19 degrees. Over winter a couple of Tiger sharks turned up . Whereas the normal run of Mako’s and Blue sharks didn’t eventuate nor did the much anticipated run of Bluefin.
We went out on Saturday in less than favourable conditions but it was forecast to abate . Also I know how Yellowfin like rough water. It was getting rough past the 12 mile so we put out the lures in anticipation. All was going well until we reached the current, a Southerly current of at least 2knots and the sea really stood up. The plan was to work down the edge of the current staying outside the rough water until I was South of Browns then to work out wider with the following sea. Well the best made plans of mice and men, what was supposed to abate went the other way and the wind was doing a steady 25 knots.
The new plan was to run in, catch some live bait and hopefully a King. This plan worked until it came to catching a King and after a fruitless hour or two we gave up and returned to the club. The funny thing was that after the clients left, Rob my deckhand decided to put out one of the livies while we cleaned up. As luck would have it he ended up the a 70cm King.
Sunday was the opposite of Saturday, calm seas and a light breeze, hard to believe it was the same ocean. Without going into to much detail we trolled out to the thousand fathom line then worked North. We saw lots of Whales and Dolphins but little else. The radio however was really annoying. Yellowfin everywhere were the constant calls which would have been great but they where all off Kiama, I had to turn the radio off.
I picked up a boat in the distance which looked like a long liner so headed towards it. To cut a long story short as we approached the boat we had a strike on the short corner. At first it looked like a Marlin doing its window wiper imitation. However as it settled down I could see it was much too small for a Marlin and was in fact a Spearfish.
So, that was the weekend two totally different days but both frustrating.
P.S. – I will be in Port Stephens from mid-January until mid-March and am taking bookings now…
The offshore fishing off Sydney is all about the Fickle Yellowfin Tuna. Here one day gone the next. There are long liners working offshore so they must be somewhere.
After the spell of bad weather last week I was keen to get out on Friday since there had been a few ‘fin previously. The ocean still looked a bit lively on Friday morning but the decision was to go. So we set off.
I planned to run out to the shelf before putting the lures out. Unfortunately with wind against current I was forced to slow down and as it happened, fortunately.
The lures went out in about 70 fathoms, at least there was the chance of an early season Striped Marlin. Surprisingly it was only a few minutes after the lures went out that the shotgun, with you know what lure, screamed off. My first thoughts were of a Marlin, but no jumping and running too hard to be a Striped tuna. So you can imagine my surprise at seeing the yellow sickles of a 30 kilo Yellowfin in only 75 fathoms, something I haven’t seen in many a year. The interesting thing about this fish is that we caught it on the ‘Zero’ line. Maybe we should take more notice of it even when it is close inshore.
Photo’s taken and gear reset we continued on our way. My original aim was to reach the other side of the ‘Zero’ line in a thousand fathoms.
The further we moved offshore the greener and warmer the water, and also more lifeless . Then just inside the thousand fathom line we had a double strike. We saw no birds and no bait, absolutely no sign of life yet we were hooked up. We landed one of the fish, a Yellowfin about 30 kilo’s but lost the other when it crossed one of the the lines as it was being cleared.
After Friday’s fishing I was keen to get out again on Sunday. Unfortunately at the last minute my clients cancelled their charter so I never made it out . However after talking to some of my friends who were out it appears as though the fish have moved on again. Though they found long lines and Long liners setting their gear I didn’t hear of anything caught off Sydney but there was some action around the Norah canyons.
Even the Kingfish are playing hard to get. One reef one day another the next. However they are still making an appearance in the harbour especially middle harbour.
Sydney tuna fishing is fickle at present but not to the North and South. Yellowfin and Albacore are still to the South with some still to the North. However, it was looking promising off Sydney last week before the weather set in. So I was really keen to get out there once it settled down.
Last Sunday was the day, so off we went. Latest reports indicated
the Southern Canyons and further South was the place to be and that’s where the ‘zero’ line was within range. On the way we saw lots of Whales out wide travelling South, a reminder to be careful on our return. We had just crossed into five hundred fathoms when I saw birds working and showers of what we thought were Sauries showering. Over the next couple of hours we saw several bust ups but they were difficult to approach. However I did get close enough to one school to elicit a strike and hook up. Rob did a good job on the fish and landed a 30 kilo Yellowfin. By the time we put the gear back in the water the area had gone dead, no birds, no baitfish and no tuna, I still don’t know how they can just disappear like that.
We kept on hunting and covered quite a lot of ocean seeing nothing until about 3:30pm. It started with a few birds appearing then the Sauries followed by the ‘fin. Unfortunately I couldn’t get near them and it was time to head for home. Incidentally one of my friends who stayed out had two hookups later in the day .
And then the weather did its thing so I had to wait another few days to get out again to what I thought was the start of the run. Unfortunately when we did get out everything had changed. The water was green and lifeless. Again I headed down to the Southern canyons but radio talk indicated it wasn’t worth it. So I turned East heading for Heatons, had to try something. At around eight hundred fathoms we had a blind strike which most surprisingly turned out to be a Mahi Mahi of about 6kilo’s, strange times. To finish the day we did some cubing until dark and again saw nothing.
I learned after returning that a couple of Yellowfin were taken off Broken Bay and a couple further South of the Southern Canyons.
What the future holds is anyone’s guess but I’ll still be out there looking.
Albacore and Kingfish were the name of the game off Sydney last week. However there were enough encounters with Yellowfin to keep the hope alive. Unfortunately since then the weather has intervened and looks like doing so for another few days. So we must wait. Sadly it looks as though the ‘Low’ system that held the Yellowfin up North moved through very quickly but last Wednesday we were still able to reach the Northern edge.
I went out primarily to chase Kingfish but then to go wide and if conditions permitted to have a late afternoon cubing session.
With Wahyu from ‘Global Tackle’ and Lloyd we headed out. We didn’t take any live bait just jigs. A moderate Westerly was blowing but not enough to stop us. When we reached the reef there were a few boats as well as a ‘Pro’ drop lining . A quick pass over the area to locate the fish and down went the jigs.
It was quite interesting to watch. Wahyu was using an electric reel and a ‘knife’ jig and LLoyd jigging the hard way with a ‘flutte’r jig. Surprisingly, to me at least, the slow worked flutter jig consistently caught the larger fish.
After an hour or so we had caught enough Kings and the wind had dropped so we headed out to do some trolling. We hoped to find those elusive Yellowfin. The plan was to go out to the thousand fathom line then go South and hopefully reach the ‘Low’ system.
I was just passing Browns when I got a call from the boat ‘El Patrone’ advising me that he’d caught Yellowfin and Albacore at a position roughly14 miles South East of me. Then another call came in about Yellowfin in the same sort of area.
I made the decision to pull in the gear and run out . Even knowing how quickly the ‘fin move around and the chances they would still be there in the 45 minutes it would take to get to the area, it was worth the risk.
On the run out I noticed a half degree temperature break with a few birds in area, just not enough to stop us from our goal – a mistake.
We finally reached the spot and the only action was another boat working the area. After setting the gear again we continued on our quest. It became apparent that the fish had moved on and since we were in a radio dead area could not get any further information. We ended up trolling back to the temp. break and to set up a cube trail.
It was a beautiful afternoon and just as the sun was setting Lloyd took a hit and after a good fight landed a 7 kilo Albacore. We took another two strikes after sunset and after very lively fights landed 7 and 8 kilo Striped Tuna. If Stripies grew to the size of Yellowfin we would be in trouble.
So that was the day.
After getting back in radio land I heard of a few more Yellowfin and Albacore being taken. So now we have to again wait until the weather clears before we can find out if the fish are still here.