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…
Port Stephens Billfish in the form of Striped Marlin along with Blacks and the appearance of Blue Marlin were on the bite last week-end. Also amongst the Billfish a good run of Mahi Mahi.
The Port Stephen Billfish turned on again last week-end. They were
big fish too. I heard of Stripies around the one hundred kilo mark and of at least one Black estimated at a hundred and fifty kilo’s by a very experienced skipper. Though they weren’t in the same numbers as the Interclub the previous week there were still enough to go round. As usual it was a matter of find the bait and find the Marlin, so what’s new.
The baitfish along the shelf were flighty and difficult to stay in touch with, however that is where the Marlin were. Those guys dunking bait into the schools didn’t fare as well as those covering ground by skipping rigged baits or trolling live baits. Also, to make life more interesting for those dunking baits there were quite a few Whaler sharks in the mix.
The boats trolling lures also raised plenty of Marlin but as is usual the hook up rate not as good as with baits especially for the Striped Marlin. They did have the advantage though of raising the occasional Blue Marlin some of which I heard were on the large size. Apparently you didn’t have to go far to find the Blues either, just wide of the ‘Car Park’ and other well known areas just over the shelf.
I fished away from the crowds hovering over and trolling around the bait schools, looking for my own patch. I had quite a successful week-end skipping baits. The highlight, was after marking three or four fish under the boat , seeing four big Striped Marlin trying to eat two baits. We did hook two of them but unfortunately one was tail wrapped and while trying to keep up with it the other dropped off. It was pandemonium for a while but we did get one of them.
So, Port Stephens Marlin. It would be hard to find a more productive area for catching all three species of our Marlin as well as all the other tropical species. The currents the bait add up to a game fish have.
This year’s Port Stephens Interclub could be seen as a make up for last year’s dilemma. The Marlin really turned it on. The Shootout the previous week-end was a preview of what was to come.
Unbelievably the weather held off for the full three days of the Port Stephens Interclub tournament. Resulting in around 430 Marlin tagged by just over 110 boats over three days at the Port Stephens Interclub . Averaging over one Marlin a boat per day, not a bad result. The full results for the tournament may be seen a the NSWGFA Facebook or web site.
We on Ambition didn’t do too badly. We opted to skip baits to cover some ground and locate the bait. I went well North of the crowd at the ‘Car Park’ and managed three tagged Marlin over the day, catching the first within minutes of putting out our first bait. Below us at the ‘Car Park’ there was a bite happening but because of the numbers there the individual results weren’t so great. None the less some of the local boats stood out from the crowd.
I went back to where I’d been the day before but all had changed, the bait had gone. It was much the same all along the shelf. What bait there was, was holding deep . After finally jigging up enough to use I again opted to skip baits and cover ground. I worked my way further North, around November 9, where a few boats were catching fish bombing the deep bait. However after a frustrating time watching several boats catch fish I changed over to dropping baits on the bait schools , not a style of fishing I enjoy, and ended up hooking and tagging a Whaler Shark after a lengthy fight. So, that was enough for me.
It was back to skipping baits. We were a short distance from the crowd dunking their baits when a nice Striped Marlin hammered one of our skippies and we were on. After a short fight the Stripy was tagged and the baits put back out . Unexpectedly just after we had set the baits a Black took a skippy and was off more in the air than the water. It was quickly tagged and we were off again. It took a while but again on the outside of the crowd dunking slimies we hooked and tagged another Striped Marlin, our third for the day.
We headed out with great expectations, back to the same area as the first day. The bait was there again and in fairly quick time we tagged two Striped Marlin, but then the wheels fell off. The bait disappeared so it was off searching again. There was a bite happening further South . When we arrived several boats were fighting fish and all looked good.
I searched and searched but couldn’t find any bait. There were obviously plenty of Marlin and lots of boats hooking up but where was the bait. We unfortunately didn’t end up catching any more fish . Later on talking to other skippers the story was much the same. Whereas some did find bait most didn’t but the marlin were definitely on the bite.
I theorised that the bait was quite sparse, the schools dispersed and broken up by the Marlin to a degree where most sounders couldn’t pick them up. Whereas those boats with more powerful sounders could however mark the bait.
There were a few boats that went out wide and did find Blue Marlin. Two that I know of lost what they called very big fish. The Blues are usually at their best in Autumn as can be see from previous year’s results especially further South around Sydney.
Hopefully the bait will remain in the area and the bite will continue but if it doesn’t it will certainly be worth having a look out wide.
The Port Stephens Shootout went ahead quite successfully on the week-end in spite of weather predictions of disastrous conditions.
Sadly it wasn’t plain sailing for at least a couple of boats crossing the bar. The conditions on the bar at the entrance to the Port were not exactly favourable and a great degree of caution was required with the four to five meter swells rolling over the bar on the run-out tide.
However once past the bar, even with the swell it wasn’t too bad . The only problem was the very brown water which virtually made the inshore fishing a waste of time. Consequently most headed offshore.
The fleet was basically divided into those chasing Striped and Black Marlin on the shelf tagging and releasing and those venturing further looking for the $200,000.00 money fish, a 258 kilo Blue Marlin.
Sadly the big one wasn’t found but several boats said they had lost a possible winner. The boat ‘The Cuban’ did find a Blue of 157 kilo’s and took out the heaviest Marlin category.
The water on the shelf wasn’t fabulous. But at the known spots bait was holding up and lots of Marlin were caught by those dropping live baits into the schools and trolling lures or live baits around the schools. Places like the ‘Car Park’ have came alive again after a couple of lean years.
Out wider there were quite a few Mahi Mahi and Yellowfin taken. Although they weren’t large fish ranging from 10 to 25 kilo’s they were potentially good food for big Blues.
On Saturday I opted to chase the big one which we didn’t find but Travelled a long way looking for the good water which we also didn’t find. What I did find was a very, very brown current but on the edge the water looked quite good. Consequently I trolled along the edge. There were a few birds in the area and the occasional patch of bait. Then out of no where we had a strike , then another and another, a triple. As it turned out we tagged a Black Marlin and kept two 10 kilo Yellowfin and that was it for the day.
Sunday was the perfect day, it was hard to believe that such a large ground swell could disappear so quickly. The guys bait fishing on the shelf, bombing the bait schools continued to have success and those chasing the big one tried in vain. We ended up with a nice Mahi Mahi.
So while we didn’t end up in the money we had plenty to take home for the table.
Port Stephens fishing has been very inconsistent over the last few weeks. So how this latest weather system will affect the area is anyone’s guess. One of the old time greats of Game Fishing always said the wet years are the good years. However with both drought and floods in the mix who knows what may happen, I remain optimistic.
As I mentioned the Port Stephens fishing has been very inconsistent.
The run of Blacks down the coast has ben really hit and miss and moving down the coast very quickly. A couple of weeks ago their was an amazing bite off Seal Rocks. Two days later they were gone and they turned up at one of the inshore reefs off Sydney. Before this weather set in there were good reports of the Blacks at Coffs Harbour and South West Rocks however after all the rain and resulting dirty water inshore who knows where they might turn up.
Further offshore the water looks or looked really good, a beautiful blue and 25 to 26 C but running South at around three knots. Consequently there was hardly any bait holding on the shelf. Those who did venture out found the occasional Striped Marlin and surprisingly a few of the Blacks also, as well as more than one report of Blue Marlin.
I guess we won’t know what to expect until after the weather clears. I would like to speculate on what we might find but I’m not game. One thing though is with all the flood water moving down the coast there will be lots of flotsam of which to be watchful. In the past I have seen everything from big trees to bloated cows.
After reports of the Black Marlin at Coffs Harbour and South West Rocks coming down the coast they have arrived. Port Stephens Blacks are here. Over the last week or so the currents have pushed further inshore . With the currents have come the Black Marlin and the occasional Striped too.
Those who got wind of the bite have had great results tagging multiple fish a day. But fishing being as fickle as it is who knows what tomorrow will bring. Reports are still coming in of Blacks at Coffs and South West Rocks so with luck we’ll have a bumper season ahead.
These Port Stephens Blacks are just in time for the tournament sesason.
Because of the conditions I went out wide on Saturday. There was bait early on just inside the shelf but only in patches. However, after working it for a while the bait disappeared. It became apparent that nothing was going to happen so I went out wide. I heard on the radio of Blue Marlin, Yellowfin and Mahi Mahi down off Lake Macquarie so I thought it was a chance.
All was quiet but the water was getting bluer and bird activity was increasing. At around 500 fathoms there were patches of birds working on something that was fast moving, I assumed they were Yellowfin. It took a bit of doing but we eventually got a hit. Sadly after a short fight it escaped. On checking the lure I am pretty sure it was a Yellowfin.
Sunday morning was not what the BOM forecast so we filled up with bait and headed North. I put the lures in off Broughton Island and in minutes we had a Small Black having a go. Problem was it kept hitting the swivel so no luck.
We arrived at the Gibber only to find all my bait was dead; pump failure. I persevered using skip baits while looking for some more bait to jig up, and was eventually rewarded with of all things a Striped Marlin.
So, a frustrating week-end all round but at least with promise of what is to come. Meanwhile it is Port Stephens Blacks.
I along with Ron Kovacs and Lee Cheeseman took Ambition up to Nelson Bay at Port Stephens last Saturday. And what a trip it was. It poured the whole way up. The sea wasn’t too bad to start with, being about 15 knots of South-Easter with a Northerly current. However as we moved wider the current turned to the South and increased markedly and so did the wind. The 1.5 to 2 metre Southerly swell jumped up to 3 to 4 metres and shortened making for a very uncomfortable ride.
We didn’t see anything on the way up and it wouldn’t have been much fun if we had hooked up anyway. When we reached Port Stephens the water temperature had dropped down to 22.5 C and off the lighthouse we marked lots of bait and since the current was coming from the South in close it was a lot more comfortable, but still raining. It was a pleasure to reach our berth at Nelson Bay and relax with a beer or two.
Sunday dawned a perfect day. It was hard to believe it could have calmed so quickly overnight.
We headed out to the lighthouse where there had been lots of bait and bird activity the previous day. Surprise , surprise, there was no bait, no bird life and the water had jumped up to 25 C.
We’d caught bait at Cabbage Tree and I wasn’t going out to the shelf so we skipped a couple of slimies close in shore.
Up near the V Reef I started to mark bait and after working the area for an hour or so, we were rewarded with a strike. It turned out to be a Striped marlin of about 70kg. which sadly didn’t put up much of a fight however it was a first for Grant . So, one more off his bucket list.
I worked the area for a little longer but with the tide starting to run out I worked my way back to the entrance intending to get back to the lighthouse.
However, we never made it back, this time it was a Black, a very stubborn Black which gave Grant’s son a very hard time. Then an even harder time to Ron when he traced it as you’ll see in the video.
So one quite successful day after one very miserable day. Two firsts to two very excited and satisfied fishermen.
Experience Sydney’ hot Marlin bite , at present possibly one of the best bites for this time of years in years. It is ironic that I am taking Ambition up to Port Stephens in a couple of days while Sydney’s hot Marlin bite continues.
Over the last couple of weeks Striped Marlin of varying sizes have been on the bite around the shelf. Just where they have been is the question. Generally you find them near the temperature breaks where the bait is stacking up. So, find the bait and you find the fish. Having said that finding the fish can be the start of the problem. Striped Marlin being what they are can be the most frustrating of fish to hook up and keep hooked up. Small lures or bait are the go but even then nothing is sure.
In closer to shore where the bait has stacked up on the inshore reefs and off the headlands the Black Marlin have appeared. There was the occasional Black seen last week but since the water has warmed up inshore their numbers have increases significantly. Reports of numbers of Blacks from further up the coast, around Coffs indicate there could be more on their way down.
As I mentioned earlier in the report I’m taking ‘Ambition’ to Port Stephens missing Sydney’s hot Marlin bite and will be there for the next couple of months fishing the tournaments and chartering . I still have a few days free and will keep you informed.
One of the biggest frustrations of running a charter boat is not being able to go out whenever you want. Especially frustrating is when you know the fish are there or when the bite is on. My situation last week-end.
And just to add to the frustrations just hearing about the Striped Marlin bite off Port Stephens and Norah Canyons the previous week and the many encounters off Sydney last week. It finally happened, the greater body of Marlin moved into Sydney waters.
From what I have heard there were lots of boats out there with most if not all at least seeing a fish. As is usual with Striped Marlin for every fish hooked many were lost.
The Stripies seemed to come in a range of sizes with a few boats and experienced fishermen from SGFC tagging fish of around 100 kg. as well as fish in the 60 kg. range. It would appear there are a couple of year classes involved.
Will it continue ? Yes, it is the beginning. But at this early stage of the season the currents haven’t yet settled in so you still have to find the water and the bait.
I don’t know if anyone has heard about the Blacks moving down the coast in their annual run. I have heard there is plenty of bait waiting for them up the North but have heard nothing.
Sydney Marlin continue to be a frustration. There was and I think still is a good bite up at Port Stephens which continued down to the Norah canyons and hasn’t yet made it to Sydney waters yet.
The ‘Car Park’ at Port Stephens turned it on over the last week or so. Striped Marlin putting on a good show for those able to get there. The bite continued South as far as the Norah Canyons but there the currents moved offshore taking the Marlin out with it.
Off Sydney there have been a few encounters with the Stripies but not many solid hookups, Striped Marlin being as frustrating as they can be. Interestingly there are still schools of Yellowfin moving around temperature breaks in the 500 fathom area. The Tuna are hard to find but it really is a matter of putting the time in, keeping you eyes open and look for birds and the temperature breaks.
Looking at the latest charts it appears the 23 degree current has moved inshore and is eddying back into striking distance.
So let’s hope it is bringing those Stripies down to us poor Sydney fishers.
P.S.: I’ll be available at Port Stephens from 20th.January’20 until 18th.March’20. So for a guaranteed Game Fishing experience come and join me.