Good sized gummies can be caught offshore right through the winter months, as shown here by James and Oli.

Good sized gummies can be caught offshore right through the winter months, as shown here by James and Oli.

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

THE weather bureau has forecast a warmer, calmer winter than normal and while they don’t get it right very often, if the weekend was a sign of things to come I wouldn’t bother putting the boat into moth balls this year. The weekend was perfect for boating and standing on the beaches or jetties, and the best part was that the fish played their part and some very good reports came in. While the expected, and unwanted, cold-water fish were around, draughtboard sharks and sting rays, there was a variety of keeper fish caught for the table.
Salmon are starting to show in better numbers on the beaches, which probably has more to do with the fact there are a lot more people standing on the beaches rather than more fish around. The reports from over the weekend were good and we had reports from most of the beaches both around the island and from Kilcunda. We saw a few, but not too many, that were over the 1kg mark, with most small school fish around 300g to 500g. The majority of the better reports over the weekend came from just on sunset, with the odd reports from during the day, whereas during the week it tended to be on the change of tide. Early morning was also a good time for bigger salmon, but being a holiday weekend and a bit on the cold side there weren’t too many out early. However, those who were got rewarded with salmon up to 2kg. Boats reported a few schools of salmon both in the bay and offshore but seeing them and catching them were two very different things.
Calamari reports were consistent later in the week and earlier last week but in the middle when we had that ordinary patch of weather when everything went quiet. What also happened just after the blow was that plenty of fine weed was blown in making it very difficult to keep a clean jig in the water. But the tides were perfect, especially for the land-based calamari anglers, with a change of tide on the change of light. The best of the land was at the jetties at San Remo, Cowes and Newhaven, with the beach at Woolamai a bit better than Ventnor. Although either end of the day with the high tide was better, typically of a holiday weekend with people fishing all through the day, reports also came from the change of the low tide also. Boating was more successful for the bigger calamari, but with a lot on the water drifting was difficult and you had to anchor and use plenty of berley to get them to come to the boat. Reports came from both below the bridge in Cleeland Bight, and from above the bridge towards Reef Island.
The frustrating and inconsistent whiting season continues with it almost impossible to get consistent catches, and a bit of a lottery every time you go out. We had some very good reports of good size and good numbers then we had the complete opposite with some not even losing a bait. The best place didn’t exist because each time a report came in it was from a different place, but at the same time all the reports came from where you expect to catch whiting. While that doesn’t make a lot of sense it was just how the reports came in and the best advice would be to just head out as you normally would, and it might just be your lucky day!
I had a few customers making comments about how good the conditions were offshore over the weekend and how unusual it is for this time of the year. While the conditions were very good it isn’t that unusual, and while we get a lot of days like this, very few people take advantage of it. What was even more surprising to those who made comments was that they caught fish. Again, not too surprising for those who put on an extra jumper and head out over the winter, as they know there are some good fish to be caught. One thing you will get offshore over winter is a workout because the chances are you will hook up on a seven-gill shark, generally a big one, that will sit deep under the boat and keep you occupied for some time. Several seven gill sharks were reported over the weekend, some as bigger than two metres, and stubborn, but those who reported them also reported some quality gummies in the same area. Most of the good gummy reports came from around 30m of water between the windmills and Cape Paterson, and from boats anchoring. Those who were at anchor only managed the odd flathead but caught plenty of pinkies around the 36cm. To catch the flathead you needed to be on a drift and closer to the entrance and slightly deeper, up to 50m of water. The flathead reports were patchy and a bit like the whiting in the bay. You needed to be right on top of them to do well, but when you did find them it didn’t take long to get your bag, with the size averaged at around the 38cm mark. If you are going to drop the boat in and have a fish during the winter keep an eye on the forecast because we often get very calm offshore conditions and you have the chance of catching a good feed of several species of fish.