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

The San Remo Fishing Festival is just around the corner now, and from the programme it’s going to be a full day of activities. There will be a welcome to the country ceremony at 9.00am, followed by the first of the $5.00 cape cruises, then the blessing of the fleet. You can still book in for the cape cruises and the blessing, just visit the website at http://www.srfishfest.com.au to make a booking or get more information. That is only the start of it, with a very large marquee on the foreshore with industry and local produce stalls, and for those who appreciate a good wine, there will be wine tastings and sales from local vineyards. There will also be filleting demonstrations, and chefs from local hotels will be showing you a couple of their favourite fish recipes. The kids haven’t been forgotten either, with free face painting and giant yard games to keep them occupied. Kids and adults can have a go at the casting and float toss competitions, with vouchers from local businesses to be won. There will be displays from the local emergency services and other businesses around the island, and if that isn’t enough, Sammy the Seal and Pete the Penguin will be walking around all day giving away free reusable shopping bags that have plenty of giveaways in them.
We get asked often about what sort of life jacket we should be wearing, especially offshore, as often the labelling is confusing, so I asked the correct authorities and have inserted the answer below. I asked what level life jacket is appropriate, because most jacket labels say ‘level 100’ is only suitable for sheltered waters.
“Hi Craig,
Thanks for the enquiry. Our legislation says that on enclosed, coastal or offshore waters you have to carry and wear, (depending on boat size and conditions), type 1 lifejackets. These are from level 100 up and have a collar, so the level 100 is legal for offshore operations.
HOWEVER, you’ll find in the pictographs (often on the jacket and certainly in all the standards documents approved in our regulations) that the level 100 is regarded as a nearshore lifejacket as it won’t give you the mouth and nose clearance from the water that 150+ lifejackets will. You generally won’t find an inflatable less than 150 newtons buoyancy and for real offshore lifejackets a 275 with dual chamber inflation is the normal survival gear for industrial crew.
I’ve also found with level 100 inherently buoyant zip and clip jackets that I can do dead man’s float without being rolled chest up. There just isn’t enough foam to guarantee being righted. It’s 150 minimum for me.
So yes, while the 100 is legal, I’d be getting a minimum of 150 for going anywhere in Bass Strait, and I’d have a crotch strap or stirrups to ensure the lifejacket holds me chest up and head back, and I’d get a spray hood to assist keeping my mouth and nose free of spray if there’s a chop or weather of any sort.
Senior Project Officer – Education
Recreational Boating Safety
Maritime Safety Victoria”
Finally, some good weather: despite not being as good, or lasting for as long as reports said it would, we still enjoyed the weather in the past week. After the last few months, we’ll take the weather each good day at a time. As soon as the wind dropped, some very frustrated fishermen started heading out. Most that headed out were on bait-chasing and boat-testing trips, with it being the first day for weeks that you could actually launch a boat. Those chasing calamari needed to be out early, before breakfast and home for morning tea. The sizes were good, but the numbers were even better if you were out early. If you were a bit later, the size was still there, but the numbers dropped off. Cleeland Bight was the best for boat fishing, between the mooring buoys and just past the red light, and a mixture of baited and artificial jigs got the best results.
I had a few second-hand reports of snapper up the bay, but I didn’t see any of the fish so whether this is just rumour is any bodies guess. It wouldn’t surprise me if it were true, because they should be there. Offshore was a different story and several snapper/pinkies were reported, most just under 40cm, but a couple of them were around 5kg. Flathead were good quality, and a couple of the reports we got had bags of flathead averaging around 45cm. There were good size silver whiting mixed in with the flathead, and several boats reported seeing large schools of salmon, but were just not able to get them interested in taking anything. Those who caught the pinkies were chasing gummies, and not too many came back without at least one, and being offshore gummies, they were good size.
Beach and jetty reports were mixed, and there were still a lot of draughtboards and seven gills around as the water was a bit cold. The beaches still produced some reasonable salmon, even with the rough conditions, and again, as always, Kilcunda produced bigger fish. Those fishing the jetties were mostly looking for bait, calamari and salmon, and couta was the fish reported most. Calamari were a little slow, as the water was weedy at times, making it difficult. We had reports of something from all the jetties, and if you were collecting bait you would have done okay, but chasing anything else was a bit tougher.