By Craig Edmonds, Jim’s Bait & Tackle

LOOKING at some of our customers’ faces Sunday morning I would suggest several must have left the sun screen at home but none were complaining, preferring sunburn to the windburn of late.
They all had smiles on their faces after finally a stretch of fine weather even on the weekend when most could take advantage of it.
There was the odd windy patch but all that did is to force people to fish somewhere other than the normal spots and to their surprise with success.
The later part of the week was still difficult to fish on the corals for those who were heading out after work with the moderate north westerlies but areas like Cleeland Bight are protected on those winds and some quality fish were caught.
This week also saw some very low tides after dark and more than one person became a victim of the mud banks.
Thankfully the only harm was to a few egos.
Finally, the weather improved Friday night and The Corals was lit up like a Christmas tree with all the boats. Reports from Friday were patchy but those who know the trick of finding a quiet spot in the right area had no trouble getting their bag.
There are still plenty of people complaining about the increase in the boat ramp fees this season and I agree 100 per cent with what they are saying about there being very little improvement or indication that there will be any improvement in the near future to justify the increase.
The problem is complaining to me or others that sell the ramp passes will only get you a very short reply.
We need people to actually pick up the phone and complain to the council and let them know that improvements need to be done.
At the end of the day they are the only ones that can actually do something. It may also make them understand the importance of boaters to this area and I am not just talking about my business or about fishermen but all types of boating and the money spent with many businesses around the island.
If you wanted good numbers of snapper last week, evenings towards the end of the week was the time to be on the water with perfect tides and conditions.
We did get reports from during the days over the weekend but it was hard going as several customers described it. The best of the reports came from customers that found a quiet spot with only a couple of boats near them and not from the large group of boats.
Generally, when I get that type of report they are fishing in the shallow areas on their own but these reports were different with many different depths of water from 4m to 14m.
Almost all of the evening/night reports though came from the change of the low tide. Apart from the odd reports most said that the fish were playing with the baits still and several said their reels screamed of only to have no fish on the end when they picked it up which generally means they are just mouthing the baits and not inhaling it.
Not a lot of big snapper but plenty around the 5kg mark from the night time while the day time reports were mostly of pinkies.
Customers also reported that there are a lot of small undersize pinkies as well.
The reports came from far too many places to list them all but some of the better ones were in Cleeland Bight around the first green pole, not a lot of fish but good size; and all over The Corals and all sizes of snapper with the start of the drop into the deep water and the north-east end.
Quite a few pinkies were reported from the area between the top red light and Bass River/Reef Island areas.
There was the usual amount of reports from around Corinella but there were also a lot of boats there so you would expect plenty of reports although some customers that fish there regularly said fishing was hard work.
One thing that was common with every report we received was Cod and plenty of them still.
A couple of years ago, fisheries or some other experts wrote that the whiting fishery around here was at its peak and we would see a drop off for several years to come. Problem was, no one told the whiting.
There are plenty of theories as to why the fishery is so good at the moment and it’s anybody’s guess as to the real reason.
Over the 10 years we have been here the only change of any significance has been the removal of the netting from the bay.
Whether this has been the difference who knows but what we have seen is a definite change in the quality of the whiting over the past four or five years but no real improvement in the numbers of whiting being caught.
The trend continued this week and the tides were perfect with a big fall. The best catches and best fish came from those days with the change of light low tides and even some caught later over the weekend on the after dark low tide.
Again, the quality of the fish reported was excellent and we saw plenty over 40cm but even the 32cm ones we had reported were round and plenty on the fillet.
There was also no shortage of customers that were bagging out as well. The best spot during the week in the evenings was below the bridge in Cleeland Bight but probably had more to do with the moderate northwest winds and the run out tides.
We did get reports from almost all of the usual whiting spots and a few not known for whiting with a customer fishing the edge of The Corals on the southern side chasing pinkies managing a dozen quality whiting, one taking a 6/0 hook with a bit chunk of squid.
It has taken 10 years to convince some but finally plenty are using squid and pilchard fillet for bait with some still cocktailing it with pipis.
Those fishing after dark are finding the pilchard the best way to go but as one regular user of pilchard told me if you are fishing after dark, refresh your baits often and use a small amount of crushed up pilchards in a berley pot.
Although there was still a bit of swell, some ventured offshore over the weekend and although hard work found a feed of flathead.
There were several reports of couta and salmon and one customer reported catching four cod at 35m which is a bit unusual.
Plenty of gurnard and most will know that the spikes on their back are something to stay away from. If you didn’t know, from those who have been spiked, you don’t want to find out what it’s like. Although I haven’t tried it myself from all reports they are a very acceptable table fish. We also had a report from one of our customers that fishes for gummies offshore using a method and an area he has spent many hours perfecting and did it again with a 9.5kg one on Sunday morning.
Although only one this weekend they haven’t missed for the last dozen or so times they have been there with all over or around the 10kg mark.