By Craig Edmonds, Jim’s Bait & Tackle
THE full moon was Sunday, the barometer was rising, past reports had been promising especially of the fish that were being sounded up, football was over and Bathurst had been run and won.
The bay was even showing signs of warming up so the weekend was looking perfect for a start to the snapper season.
The only problem was someone forgot to order the weather and with 20 knots plus Saturday and Sunday, the only two-strokes making noise were lawn mowers.
There were a few that braved the conditions over the weekend but were very limited as to where they could fish and returned with average results.
Most of the week was the same with the exception of Thursday evening and Friday when several hundred boats headed out onto the water to try their luck and typically for this time of the year the results were mixed.
Most found something, not necessarily keepers and as always there were some exceptional reports of quality fish.
With the start of the new season plenty of people have been in to purchase a new boat ramp launching pass and as expected there hasn’t been a shortage of complaints about the price increase.
Most have just been backhanded comments but the way some are carrying on you would think we were the ones that put them up which as most would know it is well out of our hands.
Generally, the ones that are complaining are the ones that use only the local ramps.
When you travel around a bit you will find for what you pay here you get good value as the pass is valid at all of the four council ramps.
Having said that things need to be a lot better and compared to many other places, especially in New South Wales where you pay nothing, our facilities are lacking.
While there are more qualified people to talk about Cowes or Rhyll, the Newhaven ramp we use is sadly just getting worse and in need of a few improvements – some as simple as covers for the cutting tables and improving the lighting around the ramp and tables.
Others are a bit more complicated and short of a complete redesign with the public ramp and yacht club marina, which I couldn’t see in the near future, the best thing that could happen is the addition of a floating pontoon and a bit of dredging.
This would allow more boats to tie up on all tides helping with the congestion and improving the safety.
Over the years the amount of accidents we have been told about is increasing and by accidents it’s mostly people trying to get on or off their boat slipping on those dangerous ladders.
Unfortunately, they only complain to me but what needs to happen is people need to phone the council when they hurt themselves. It might just help to get something done before a serious accident occurs.
Each year there are various grants available for such improvements but it needs to be driven by someone, ideally the council.
While it sounds simple enough, apply for the money, make the improvements and all fixed – it’s not quite that simple and several government bodies are involved but it still needs one of them to get it started.
So when you get your ramp pass and you think it is too much, give the council a call and put in your complaints to them because as far as they are concerned no one is complaining about the facilities or being injured so there is no problem.
As I mentioned before the weather hasn’t been all that kind again and reading back on old diaries, it’s the total opposite of last year.
The water was warmer, the winds much less and plenty of fish but come November last year it all fell apart.
The bay actually lost temperature, the winds got up and fish disappeared, then when we could get back out fishing in December it was slim pickings. Although the weather is a little worse than normal Octobers, this is closer to what we should expect.
All the signs are there for a good season, just need the weather to play its part.
The reports we got with the limited opportunity I would consider as very good with the whiting slowing slightly but still there and the snapper continuing to improve.
The best reports this week have been of gummies with several reported from Thursday night and Friday.
There were more reports of gummies on Friday than snapper.
Many of the gummies were small pups but we had several reports of good keepers around 5kg.
Most of the keepers caught in the bay came from the channel from Gardners to Elizabeth then up to Mosquito Channel.
Almost every gummy report we got was on the top of the tide and around the turn.
Baits were mixed and it just seemed they were hungry so would take anything – squid, pilchards, tuna and our favourite, fresh salmon fillet.
There was a very small window of low swell and offshore winds and one customer took advantage heading to his usual secret spot east of the cape where they managed several quality gummies, some good pinkies and plenty of, and a little surprising, calamari that were right down on the bottom. They also got a feed of flathead in between the rest.
Another customer also headed out on the same day, not as far east, but just off the glass house and got a good feed of flathead in about 30m of water.
I did get a couple of second hand reports from towards the western entrance of some good flathead and a gummy.
The commercial boats have also had some good flathead, although a lot further out.
Calamari reports were OK while a little slow, mostly to do with the weather and the weed in the water.
While the wind doesn’t make a lot of difference to the land based calamari fishermen, they had to pick their time in between the weed. Fishing the right part of the tides was the trick and although it was very dirty at times, it seemed to clean up dramatically after a tide or two.
Baited jigs worked the best on areas that you couldn’t see the jig because a little weed didn’t seem to make a big difference whereas as soon as a small piece of weed found its way to an artificial jig the calamari would turn away.
No monsters this week but good numbers of 1kg to 1.5kg were caught with, as usual, many colours working – white, blue and orange probably the standouts.
Whiting were not as good as they have been over the past few weeks but like the rest, more to do with the wind and tide not matching which is something my good whiting customers tell me.
Some of my whiting fishermen are as fussy as the whiting themselves and will look for that perfect match of tide and wind to chase their fish but I guess when you have as much success as they do you stick to what works. The reports we did get were from the usual spots with the quality the same, just down on numbers. We even had one report from off the beach out the front of the Newhaven caravan park.
There was some quality snapper reported on Thursday night and Friday, just not a lot of them and not many people got more than one each.
Several boats went looking Thursday night but the majority headed out Friday and most struggled to land a snapper.
Almost everyone sounded plenty and many had good hits or even a short run but no hook up.
The snapper was mostly mouthing the baits and not really hitting them hard so you had to think about the way you fished for them.
One thing that came from the successful customers was they keep swapping things up in rig style, hook size or even bait type and presentation and it was by dong a bit of work they managed at least one fish.
The successful reports again came from one end of the bay to the other and everywhere in between.
The reports came from both deep and shallow, deep in the channel along the island and shallow over the corals then up to Temby and Spit Point.
With reports like this, it makes it difficult to answer the main question we get, “Where are the snapper?”
My suggestion is to keep an eye on your sounder, find the fish and work them till you have success or enough time to see they aren’t interested, the move again.
The other problem is of course snapper being snapper. This could change in the next day or so and something will trigger them to start feeding.
Baits were mixed but squid and pilchard still stand out as the best.
We have also seen several pinkies around the 1kg to 2kg already and the best we saw this week was 8.74kg caught in 6m on the San Remo end of The Corals.