By Craig Edmonds of Jim’s Bait and Tackle, San Remo
IT HAS been pleasing to have several customers telling me they have been making calls to the council regarding the state of the boat ramps around the island, but it needs to continue.
While every ramp around the bay needs something done, the one we hear the most about is the one over at Newhaven.
Unfortunately, another visitor had an accident at the ramp over the weekend, and I don’t mean running a ground. It was another person slipping on the ladder on the low tide and falling into their boat.
While we don’t hear of this weekly we do hear it too often and like in the case over the weekend, almost always it is someone of older age.
Unfortunately, because of the age demographic they don’t want to cause any problems and won’t report it.
Boating, and I am not just talking about fishing, around the island is becoming busier and I think the council needs to consider the importance of this activity to the local economy.
Because of my position with the trader’s association, I attend meetings with the council and there is currently a review being done on events and future events for the area to help maximise the benefit of these events to the area, which is important especially in the off seasons.
Maybe it’s time to do a review of the benefits to the local economy that boating provides.
Again, I am not just speaking about the recreational fishing side of boating, but recreational boating in general – yachting, jet skis, kayaks, and other water activities.
While boating or water activities are not for everyone and some would prefer to close the ramps than improve them, like car racing, penguins, nature parks and seals, the local economy needs it.
To give you an idea of the size of the boating/water industry in Victoria, according to the 2014 Roy Morgan stats from the BIA Drivers of Growth paper, the industry contributes $4.5 billion annually and 17,700 full time jobs.
There are 286,336 Marine Licence holders and 10 per cent of all Victorians over 14 years old own some type of water craft.
There are several things that need to be done to take advantage of this industry.
Firstly, we need to improve facilities both for those who use the water and more importantly, if these facilities are improved, we improve the whole experience for those who live here.
No-one likes to wake up and find a boat trailer parked half way over their driveway or rubbish deposited on their front lawn, and secondly, we need to sell it, but we must improve things first.
The weather forecasters have not improved and all week the forecast went from a perfect weekend still on Thursday lunchtime, to a good day Saturday and very ordinary days Sunday and Monday by Thursday afternoon’s forecast.
Thankfully some made it an extra-long weekend and headed down early and took advantage of the fine week. Saturday was one out of the box and it was good to see so many boats able to head offshore and take advantage of the fishery that is out there.
In the bay we did see improvement in the reports, probably due to the amount of people fishing but it is still tough.
We are starting to see some improvement also because, as one customer summed it up saying, “after several trips of nothing at my usual spots I finally decided to try somewhere else” and bingo, he found a few fish.
We have had a lot of conversations like this over the past couple of months and many are saying they didn’t realise there were all these other areas of structure to fish, thinking the bay was just mud and flat with the odd channel.
You would expect this comment from someone who has never fished here but the comments are coming from some that have fished here for some time.
That’s what that little TV screen on the dash is for. You just need to learn how to use it and when you aren’t catching fish in the same spot you have fished for the past 10 years, try something.
With the exceptional season offshore, many have discovered it for the first time this year and some are now hooked, only fishing when the weather is right for an offshore trip.
Most of the fish caught offshore is flathead but many are discovering that anything is possible, so you need to be prepared.
For those looking for somewhere to fish over the winter, don’t forget offshore. It would be the most unfished area during the winter, despite winter having some of the most stable weather.
We are still getting customers come in that have headed offshore for the first time and struggled, and the best advice I can give you is to drop in and see us because it is different than fishing in the bay and you need to fish a little differently.
We lost track of how many flathead that were reported over the last week from offshore, mostly with a couple of reports from on the corals and a couple of rock flathead from the weedy areas around Maggi shoal.
The offshore flathead came from in close and most reports were from under 35m of water.
While the flathead have been good all season, the arrow squid that have been a bit slow showed up in big numbers.
They weren’t wide spread according to the reports but were thick when they showed up making it difficult to keep a shark bait in the water or even to land flathead at times with them getting a ride on the way up.
We saw some of the big models show up as well and 50cm+ hoods were common.
With the squid in good numbers, so were the sharks, and those out on a drift found Makos, hammer heads, bronze whalers, seven gills and gummies. There was salmon, pinkies up to 44cm, plenty of couta, as many silver whiting as you needed and other bait fish and even a couple of King George whiting. With so many boats out, especially Saturday the reports came from everywhere – Cody Banks to the windmills to Pyramid Rock.
One species that was reported, far fewer than what I expected was Kingfish. We had a couple 8kg and 11kg landed and a few lost but we were expecting a lot more.
In the bay, most of the reports came from below the bridge in Cleeland Bight where some excellent numbers and size calamari were caught – one that would have given the 3kg mark a good nudge.
There were some good reports of calamari from San Remo Jetty also, but you needed to be out of bed early or be set up to fish into the night because they were the most productive times.
The odd one was caught during the day but with so many people fishing and people fishing that weren’t used to fishing current, it was difficult.
If you are fishing from the jetty and hook a large calamari, walk it to the beach. Don’t try and lift it up as a few did over the weekend and lost them.
Further up the bay were some good numbers of pinkies on the corals and hundreds of gummies and flathead.
While the pinkies were mostly size, the gummies were very small and undersize, and the flathead were mixed, although not too many to take home. We also had a couple of reports of elephant fish from further up the bay towards Corinella.