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

OVER the last couple of weeks, it has been motorbikes everywhere around the island, and it’s a pity the fish haven’t been the same. I keep saying that the reports this week have improved from last week, but they are improving slowly. Having said that, it is getting better each week, but it has been a much slower build up than the last couple of years. It has been a very different year for weather, too. We had some very warm weather during the week and it made a huge difference to the water temperature, which will help not only bring on the fish but maybe send a few of the couta out of the bay. Snapper has been the main target fish although a few of the whiting and calamari customers have braved the couta for mixed results. The reports from land based customers have been reasonable this week as well.
For snapper everything aligned for a while this week. There were two nights following some very sunny days that warmed up the mud, and those who fish for snapper around here often knows what that means: fish the shallows on dusk just after dark. For those who did they weren’t disappointed, and there were some quality snapper caught, several big runs lost, and most managing their bag.
But that’s about where the good reports finished, and the rest of the week things returned to the frustrating reports we have had so far this season. We did see some other quality catches, just not the multiple fish in one session, and finding them was difficult as the reports coming in were from many different corners of the bay. We had a report of pinkies in Cleeland Bight, but have not seen anything of substantial size this season so far. We had reports from Spit Point, Elizabeth Island, Gardners Channel, Rhyll Hole, the Corals Shallow and deeper and most other areas in between. The one thing common to all the reports is only one or two snapper in each spot but plenty of couta, cod and rays. The other thing reported by most people is the number of baitfish, salmon and yakkas in the bay now. Land based and the jetties at Cowes and Newhaven have been the best but most of the snapper we have seen were around the 2kg mark at best and came from those putting in the hours after dark.
Something that has been a standout this season is how many reports are coming from those using pilchards. Of the reports we have received this season around 80% are being caught on pilchards and the squid isn’t being touched! Saurys are the other popular bait.
Whiting are still very frustrating, not necessarily because they aren’t there but because of the effort involved in getting them past the 100’s of couta still on the whiting grounds. Apart from the obvious re-rigging that is needed when the couta are around they must be higher in the food chain, because if they are around the whiting are not. But at times they seem to disappear and you will start to catch the whiting again. At Cleeland Bight it has been a case of just going to your spot, put up with the couta and wait until they move away, and you should then manage a feed of whiting. The best area has been in the top end of the bay around Dickies Bay and Reef Island, but only in the evening and into the first of the dark.
A few of my kayak customers are targeting the Ventnor/Cowes areas in the shallows for their whiting and have been pleasantly surprised with the results, which include far fewer couta.
With Calamari this week, the easiest thing to do is to simply read the above report because there isn’t a lot of difference. Probably the main difference between whiting and calamari is more calamari than whiting are caught from the land. Still not what one might expect for this time of the year, but there have been patches of good numbers from the San Remo jetty this week. Some good quality reports have also been coming from the beach in Cleeland Bight as well, although possibly they are a bit light on numbers, and the best spot, as for the kayaks, has been Ventnor, near the creek, and Cowes, near the yacht club.
Salmon seem to be plentiful at the moment, particularly in the boats, but we are getting some good reports from the land as well. In the boats, although several have been caught on baits the best way to catch them has been with small metal lures of soft plastics. White is the best colour but make sure the lure is small, 40gram max and 25gram better, because what they are feeding on are very small fish. The land based reports say that more have been caught on bait, but that’s probably because not all that many people use lures on the beaches. The size of the salmon has been much better in the boats, or at least more consistent, whereas on the beaches the salmon are mostly smaller.