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

First off, a Fishing Festival update: the blessing of the fleet will be a major part of the event, and there is still room if you wanted to be involved and have your boat blessed.
It is open to all types of boats, and the blessing will be carried out at the jetty, on the water, and there will be an area reserved for those who want to leave their boats on the trailer.
To be involved, simply text your name, boat size and preference- jetty, water, or trailer- to 0409 018 980.
The morning will start at 9.00am, with an official opening and smoking ceremony near the jetty, followed by a move to the jetty where the blessing ceremony will be conducted. Once the blessing is over, the fish filleting demonstrations will be on in the main marquee.
There will be industry stalls, fresh local produce stalls, and in and around the main marquee there will be a kid’s activities area with free face painting, a colouring-in table and giant yard games that even the parents can play.
There will be a casting competition and a float toss, with plenty of vouchers for local businesses as prizes.
If you’re not sure about the condition of your fire extinguisher, bring it along and the local CFA will be there to check it out for you, as well as providing other tips to keep you safe.
The deckie race will be on after lunch, beside the main marquee on the beach, and the teams this year will be made up from local businesses, so come along to cheer them on and have a bit of a laugh, especially with the last leg of the race.
After the race it will be back to the main marquee, where chefs from two hotels will be showing you how to get the best from the fish you catch.
There are still spots left with wildlife cruises on their $5 cape cruise, and the giveaway show bags are getting bigger and bigger- it might be worth coming just for a bag.
For more details and up to date information, like the festival Facebook page at facebook.com/srfishfest, or have a look at the festival website, www.srfishfest.com.au, where you can book yourself in for the cape cruise or boat blessing.
When it comes to fishing, about the only thing that has changed over the last few weeks is that the wind dropped from a hurricane to a gale for a couple of hours one day.
We have gone back over our diary, and in the entire time we have been in the shop, we haven’t had such a long stretch of these relentless north winds.
Generally, we do get a few days of strong winds, but they are more from the west or south, and even in a moderate wind you can go tide fishing in the bay for early snapper.
The problem with the north winds, apart from them being so strong, is that they are always sideways to the tide, especially on the corals area, and it makes it all but impossible to fish.
The other problem, which anybody who has driven past the bay lately would know, is that it stirs the bay up and turns it into a darker shade of mud.
Winter, as it is every year, will be all but forgotten soon, and we will be back out fishing in the Sun and calm conditions. Until then, while the boat is safer on the trailer, grab the beach rods and start to do a bit of bait collecting.
There have been some good reports of salmon off most of the beaches, and over the last week there have been some very good catches at Inverloch.
The bigger salmon have come from the Kilcunda beaches, with the best reports for the week from the surf at the Powllet River. The beach at the trestle bridge has been difficult at times because of the strong winds stirring up the weed which seems to collect in that corner.
The beaches on the island have been okay, while not setting the world on fire, and most of the salmon have been under one kilogram.
The Island’s beaches also seem to stay a lot cleaner than Kilcunda, and it makes it much easier to use lures.
Having said all of the above, it hasn’t been easy- conditions were very tough, and fishing in those conditions is not suitable for a beginner. A bit of experience is helpful in staying safe.
Even if you don’t eat the salmon, they make very good bait, and don’t be afraid to use them when you are chasing the bigger snapper.
Calamari are the other baits people are chasing. Reports have been mixed, and a bit below what we expect, but it’s understandable with the current conditions.
The Ventnor -Cowes area has been impossible to fish at times, with the wind blowing on shore, but at Woolamai, the other end of the Island, the breeze is offshore and very easy to fish.
Baited jigs are the best as the water is very dirty, but, surprisingly, artificial jogs have been better at the San Remo jetty. In the boats, there has been the odd moment that you could get out to Cleeland Bight, and a couple of kayaks launching off the beach have been successful, but even they have even been down in quantity.
I have been asked to mention in my report, and it is disappointing that it needs to mentioned, but it has surprised me the number of people that are coming in and telling me about it, especially with so few people fishing.
That is, the amount of rubbish that is being found where we fish.
While plenty of rubbish on the beaches gets wrongly blamed on fishermen, lots of the rubbish being picked up recently has a bait company’s name or a tackle company’s name on it, and there is no argument where it came from.
One customer said he has been fishing at Punch Bowl over the last couple of weeks, and he said each time he is there he picks up a shopping bag full of rubbish.
I get the argument all the time that “companies should be looking for alternatives to plastic”, and they should be, but like most things this issue is simpler than it sounds- the company itself isn’t the one throwing the rubbish on the ground, and, to me, there is never an excuse for dirtying our beaches in this way.