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.
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.
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.
We went out on Sunday in ideal conditions. And after hearing of the results of those who fished on Saturday there was a degree of optimism. The last thing we expected was an August Spearfish.
One for the boys…
Boats out on Saturday caught Yellowfin from way wide of Heatons, Northeast of Browns and down on the Southern Canyons. The fish were wide spread but you still had to put in the hard yards to find them.
So, we went out optimistic in knowing there were fish to be found. I put the lures out just inside the shelf where there was quite a bit of bait though it was quite deep. There is always the chance of an early season Striped Marlin.
Travelling out there were reports of Yellowfin around Heatons and wide of the Bait Station. I continued on moving wider. The fishing was slow and since I had seen a few schools of Striped Tuna put out a small lure to give the clients a taste of what I hoped would come. We caught a few Stripies when in about five hundred fathoms old Brad went off. We at least caught a Yellowfin not quite as big as we wanted, just a jellybean about 7 kilo’s.
Continuing on we saw a couple of whales and caught a few more Stripies. By then it was time to head for home. As we crossed over the one hundred fathom line the Stripie lure went off. It took a good run but since it was only a 15kg. outfit thought it was a bigger Stripie or maybe an Albacore. But then it stuck its head out and we saw it was unmistakably a Short Billed Spearfish. It took about 20 minutes but we landed the fish to the jubilation of the Sunni and his friends.
A rare capture off Sydney Spearfish are a tropical species usually you find them in the warmest water, water where you are more likely to run into a Blue Marlin and there was one of those taken recently too. The number of Spearfish caught over the last couple of weeks defies explanation especially to catch them in only nineteen degrees.
One could theorise that since the SST’s only reflect the top two or three millimetres of the surface there might be a much warmer current running a little deeper. Anyway just a speculation…
Due to the weather I’d been looking forward to getting out for a while now. What with the weather opportunities have been rare. But a last minute call on Thursday had us on our way.
Although the weather forecast looked good on paper, reality was a whole new ball game. We were met with a reasonable swell from the South and East with an unreasonable current from the North as well as the occasional squall generated by the rain all together making for a terribly unreasonable sea; very short and steep.
The guys did well to stay out and though we didn’t get the whole day in went home with a good feed of Mahi Mahi.
It was a shame we didn’t make it to the wide grounds since even at the 12 Mile the sea temperature was 24 degrees.
I went out again yesterday, fortunately sea and wind had abated considerably however it was still fairly uncomfortable. We put in a shot for Kings at the Peak without doing any good so moved out to the FAD. There was at least a 1.5 knot current from the North running past the FAD but conditions weren’t bad and we caught several Mahi Mahi in the 80 to 90 cm. range.
Now it was time to at last go wide. The lures were put in straight away since Jamie from ‘Carnage’ had dropped a Striped Marlin in eighty fathoms the day before and we trolled out to Browns where there were a couple of boats fishing the bottom. We trolled a Striped tuna lure and caught a couple but sadly that was all.
I trolled out to a thousand fathoms without seeing much at, only the occasional Gannet and Albatross. But then as luck would have it out of the blue the Brad’J took off at a thousand miles an hour stripping off over two hundred metres in seconds. Then the unthinkable…there are many ways to lose a fish. The angler thinking he could slow the fish down by putting applying more pressure went straight to sun-set…with the inevitable result.
Our first thought was that it had been a Blue Marlin but when we examined the line there was no sign of chafing so we surmise it may have been a good sized Yellowfin…sadly history now.
The water still looks fabulous out there and I feel there is a lot left of this incredibly bad season…but then again you’ve got to be optimistic.
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 !!
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.