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.
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.
Sydney doldrums is certainly the best way to describe the Game Fishing off Sydney over the last couple of weeks. That is certainly not to say there haven’t been occasional catches of Yellowfin, just enough to tempt you out . However here it has been a hard slog. Especially when you keep hearing about what is going on both North and South of us .
Big Yellowfin and numbers of them seem to have taken up residence off Jervis Bay. The same can be said of Port Stephens and Norah Heads to the North.
Unfortunately, we poor soles without the mobility of trailer boats have had to cover an awful lot of water just to have a chance at finding the occasional school of Yellowfin as they pass through. Furthermore over the last week or so there has been an increase in these numbers but it is still hard going. Hopefully after this next bout of weather moves through it will all change…can’t help the optimism.
Bob Curry from his boat ‘Marquis’ was one of the lucky ones to find some action . They picked up a fortyish kilo Yellowfin on a blind strike. Apparently after an incident filled fight, which I won’t go into, somewhere on the Southern canyons they boated the fish. There have been other captures, enough to tease, as a result and as I have said you have to cover a lot of water.
There have been a few Marlin encountered as often happens at this time of year. But, most noteworthy and even stranger are the numbers of Mahi Mahi showing up. Several of the boats out Shark fishing have seen them schooled under their boats. Sadly they have proved to be difficult to tempt onto a hook.
Consequently, I for one am waiting for this next bout of weather to pass on to find out what has changed.
As we anxiously await the arrival of the Bluefin tuna we are experiencing, or were experiencing a good run of Yellowfin.
Over the last few weeks Yellowfin tuna running between 25 and 70 kilo’s have been caught off Sydney. These fish are ranging over a wide area having been caught from wide and North of the ‘Bait Station’ all the way down the coast. Consequently they take a lot of finding and the changing conditions at sea every day don’t make it any easier. However once located the fun begins… if you’re lucky.
I was out on Sunday in ideal conditions. As it happened the bite had been early. However as we arrived there was a boat fighting so we set the gear and started searching. Over the next hour or so we saw several bust-ups but they were over so quickly we couldn’t get to them in time. Eventually a school made a mistake and busted only 50 metres ahead of us. With all eyes watching and wishing the fish to bite expectations were high.
First the rigger went off then the flat line and while the guys were
clearing the other lines the Shot gun took off. A triple with very inexperienced anglers. After the initial confusion the anglers and the tuna settled in with all three circling under the boat – a recipe for disaster. Fortunately Rob and Frank managed to keep the lines from crossing. Sadly we lost one of the fish as it was about to be gaffed when it made a run under the boat and caught the rudder. In retrospect it probably helped making the other two fish easier to land. The guys were ecstatic with two 35 kilo fish to take home. Since there was no further action in the area I started trolling for home which was several hours away.
A short way from Browns I saw a huge school of Sauries take off and much to my surprise as I turned to chase them a school of Mahi Mahi took to the air close behind them. Quite a spectacular sight but not one that I have ever seen in mid-winter.
I went out again on Monday but this time left earlier hoping to catch that early bite of the day before. Other boats were already working the area and the news wasn’t good. The water had cooled and I don’t think anyone out there had seen anything.
When we arrived where we did indeed find cooler water and more current. Shortly after we arrived a trailer boat hooked up on a triple not far from us. We and several other boats started working the area but all to no avail. Surprisingly George from Wahoo Charters called up saying he’d just caught a 6 kilo Mahi Mahi. I then moved a bit wider and had a strike on the Shotgun. All I saw was a flash of blue and assumed we had also hooked a Mahi Mahi. Then a bill appeared followed by the rest of a Striped Marlin, unbelievable. Sadly we only had it for a few minutes before we parted ways. The only saving grace for the day was when we landed a good sized Albacore.
I did hear later in the day of a boat out a fair bit wider finding schools of Yellowfin but it was much too far for us to go.
So we still await the arrival of the Bluefin Tuna which seem to be holding up to the South though there are occasional reports of closer fish.
After the less than comfortable conditions last Saturday yesterday was a dream. We’d heard that the ‘fin were still around so off we went. On Saturday the bite occurred fairly early so I didn’t make my regular stop over at 12 mile or Browns.
Well after an hour and a half running we put the gear in at the 500 fathom line. I noticed a temp break and followed it further offshore.
After another hour of trolling July Tuna were looking like a no go, and then with the clients showing signs of boredom we had a massive strike on a rigger and shortly after one of the flat lines took off at a rate of knots. Well boredom quickly turned into mayhem as the crew raced to the rods.
Finally under a semblance of control we settled in to fight what were obviously two big fish. The guys neither of whom had had much experience on this type of gear settled in and with Ron’s guidance and their mates support started to make headway. Unfortunately twenty minutes into the fight we had a tackle failure and lost one of the fish. It then took almost another half hour to bring the second fish to the boat where we gaffed and brought aboard a beautiful Yellowfin of 65 to 70 kilo’s.
After photo’s and congratulations we put the lures out again. The radio was telling of ‘fin out a little wider so off we went. We hadn’t travelled far and finally had the other boats in sight when again two rods went off. This time they were obviously smaller fish and the guys had them under control when inextricably one of them just dropped off. However the other fish a Yellowfin of around 35 kilo’s was landed.
A little later I saw a school of Sauries take off obviously some unknown predator wanting to eat. I got close a couple of times but nothing eventuated. As I moved away we had another strike on one of the minnows. At first I thought it was a small fin because I could see a yellow tail. But as it happened and much to my surprise it turned out to be a Mahi Mahi. Not what you expect in the middle of winter.
Of interest to me was that there was no sign that there were any fish in the area when we had the strikes. There were no birds no bait and no whales unlike last Saturday when the area was so obviously alive.