Game Fishing – Off to a Great Start
Having enjoyed early starts to the past few game seasons this season was looking ominously like it wasn’t going to shape up all that well.
Over the past two or three seasons we have had fish as early as the last weekend in November and certainly here in numbers by the end of December, however over the past two weeks fish have been reported in reasonable numbers down the entire East Coast and appear to be getting thicker by the day and also, starting to move in closer to shore where the smaller boats can get at them – time to pull the lures out at last.
Talking to Rocky Carosi from Professional Charters at St.Helens during early February I found that there are large numbers of small striped tuna around which ensures there will be plenty of makos about for the shark enthusiasts as well as some good schools of albacore around the 6/7 kg range for those anglers who are quite partial to a good feed of the ‘Chicken of the sea’ – the only hold-up getting into these fish so far has been the anglers nemesis – wind. The large numbers of stripeys and albacore also has some scientists excited as they predict a good run of largish yellowfin chasing them.
Marlin—are you serious?
Moving down the coast, one boatload of ‘bottom bashing’ anglers got the shock of their lives when a couple of marlin started leaping not far from where they were fishing out off Maria Island – now there is some news that will get the fanatics going!!
Strangely enough, the waters wide of Maria Island seem to have consistently produced marlin hook-ups over the past few seasons so this would be an ideal spot to start searching for those looking to land their first billfish. One chap I know hooked up two seasons in a row on what were fairly certain to have been big ‘Blues’ only to bust the first one off and get spooled on the second one – if you are going to have a crack at these make sure your gear is in ‘top notch’ condition because if there are ANY weaknesses you can be certain that ‘Beakies’ will find them!!
Further south there have been reports of both albacore and striped tuna in reasonable numbers out of Eaglehawk Neck, predominantly out on the shelf but starting to move inshore as the waters warm up and the occasional angler has been fortunate enough to strike it lucky as far in as the Hippolyte Rock.
There have also been reports of small yellowfin jumping out on the shelf but at this stage I don’t know of anyone lucky enough to hook and land one yet – this is sure to change as we move towards March as the fish move in onto the inshore reef structures.
Yellow Bluff, Foxy’s reef, Little Hippolyte and the reef at the back of the Big Hippolyte are great places to start looking for those that love challenging themselves against these speedsters of the sea.
There has also been plenty of mako action out of ‘The Neck’ for southern shark enthusiasts when the weather permits.
South to Pedra and blues
Down around the southern corner Lee Harris from GO Charters (operating out of Southport) took his first team of anglers for this season down to Pedra Branca last week and had an absolute cracker of a day with plenty of - - - wait for it - - - Southern Bluefin around the thirty kilo mark with one beauty broken off at the back of the boat reported to be around the ninety kilo mark – what a start to the season that would have been - break out the tissues boys!!
What is interesting is either these fish have bucked the trend and turned up early this season or as some of the locals have been saying for years now – they never left at all!!!
If the weather was a bit more friendly down that way we may well be catching tuna all year round in the game fishing Mecca - Tasmania (certainly at Pedra anyway!)
So, although the season seems to have reverted to the days of old where tuna fishing doesn’t get underway until late January – all that remains to be seen is how long it will last this year; will it finish in May or will it keep on going as it has in recent seasons until June July and one year even August?
El Nino weather patterns have been good to us – La Nina is an unknown quantity.
My advice is strike while the fishing’s hot! Dust the rods off (check the rollers) and give the reels a service, spool them up with new line – sharpen the hooks and get out there and have some fun – tomorrow’s tuna isn’t promised to anyone.