By Craig Edmonds of Jim’s Bait and Tackle, San Remo

I HAVE been away for a few weeks and from what Melanie has told me not a lot has changed with the fishing, which is still inconsistent, and, despite a few reasonable days, the cold windy weather welcomed us home with vengeance. It was very quiet locally this week with the weather turning to the windy side making boating difficult and not the best for standing on the jetties. Having said that there is always someone fishing somewhere and someone catching something. You can catch yourself a feed of fish during this winter period but chances are you’re not going to catch too many for the freezer.
At this time of year many people travel for their yearly fix of game fishing: west or north for the tuna and maybe catching the odd swordfish along the way. Speaking to those who have been catching the swordfish, it isn’t something you just decide to do when you wake up in the morning. Taking the distance you need to travel out of it you need almost 100% of everything else to go right. Your gear needs to be capable of matching the power of these fish, and your charter special or $30 internet game reel won’t quite cut it. It is a fishery that a lot more is known about now and there is plenty of information out there to learn from, but be patient and prepared for disappointment.
The other fish targeted at this time of the year is the bluefin tuna, and generally it’s to the west, as far as Port MacDonnell in South Australia. This is another fishery that shouldn’t be underestimated There were a couple of big tuna caught over the last week and I know at least one was not a targeted size coming out of a school of small fish and hitting a very small skirt. If you are traveling down for a day’s tuna fishing do some research first as it could save you hours of blind trawling, and if you do have a plan be prepared to change it because those birds working just outside the harbour might be on all the fish you want, saving you a trip out to the deeper water. If you are heading down that way, especially to Portland, throw in the whiting and gummy gear because if you do bag out on tuna early there are some very good table species to be caught.
Locally, there has been a bit of everything in the reports, mostly from the land based anglers who braved the weekend conditions. The usual reports of winter snapper come in to the shop, with a couple around the 5kg mark over the last couple of weeks. If you do spend the time chasing snapper or gummies at this time of the year you deserve all you catch, because generally the successful reports come from those fishing all or most of the night. Any reports coming from in the bay of snapper or gummies are just that, from the middle of the night. The other reports of snapper or gummies have come from those taking advantage of the odd calm day and fishing the reef areas offshore, and there have been some good numbers reported. There has been the odd report from the Newhaven, Cowes and Rhyll jetties, and while these are generally smaller they are well worth the time you need to put in.
For the land based fishermen this time of the year, time is mostly spent chasing salmon on the beaches, and many have been successful, finding at least a couple. Typically for Salmon, there isn’t a lot of consistency, and the successful customers are spending a lot of time over a couple of tides on the beach. People fish for salmon for different reasons, maybe for bait or perhaps to eat, and either way to be successful you need to spend time and learn how to read the beach. While reading the beach won’t guarantee successful catches it will help to put you into the best possible place to catch them.
You need to be able to read the beach to find the gutter or the deeper channels along the beach. Everyone has their favourite spot along the gutter, and I prefer the outward part of the gutter. Having said that, others prefer the inward side or even into the middle or the deepest spot. It doesn’t really matter where you fish providing you are somewhere near it because most of the schools of salmon, when they come in close looking for food, will travel along the deeper water. You will catch fish in the shallows also but generally you will find them to be loaners and not often get more than a couple. You will also find that in the shallows the salmon are usually bigger, and the best way to catch them is with lures and not bait. This is because shallow often means rocks or weed, and fishing on the bottom you often get snagged.