By Craig Edmonds, Jim’s Bait and Tackle, San Remo
FINALLY, after weeks of very ordinary weather, everything has aligned and we have had the best week of the season so far.
Although a bit tough at times the fish played their part as well and we saw a very good variety of quality fish as well as some good quantities.
From the reports, it was a bit difficult to work out the best spots as they were all over the place and different times of the day.
The land based reports were also reasonable and I think the fine weather has got people enthusiastic about going fishing, although the weekend was a surprise to most with the lack of traffic at the boat ramps.
Both Saturday and Sunday were very quiet at the ramps around the island, but it is getting closer to Christmas with lots to do, especially for the local tradies with many trying to catch up from the wet spring.
Boat ramp etiquette: It’s getting to that time of the year when it gets very busy at the boat ramps and the odd temper becomes a little frayed around the edges.
Most of the time the frustration is due to the inadequate facilities we have around the island not allowing good traffic flow to clear congestion but sometimes due to the arrogance of a small few.
Generally, the best way you can help ease the congestion at the ramps is to be organised, especially if there is a few of you. One simple job each and once the traffic has cleared you should be able to launch or retrieve quickly.
Backed half way down the ramp is not the place to get your gear from the car to the boat, nor is waiting till you are at the front of the queue while you have been sitting there for half an hour.
If you don’t think these things happen, grab a picnic lunch and a cold drink and head over to the boat ramp for the afternoon. It can be quite entertaining at times.
Most people that have a boat are with a family member or a mate but this is not the case for everyone and there are those that are on their own.
If you get to the ramp and it is busy and someone is on their own, which does take longer to launch and retrieve, generally the quickest way for you to get your boat in or out is to offer some help. Sitting in the line tapping the steering wheel generally won’t fix it.
The other situation you see all the time is someone is at the cleaning table with an Esky full of fish while their boat is parked right at the top of the ramp making it difficult for everyone else to drive through.
It’s reasonably simple if you are going to be there for a while to park down from the cleaning tables and carry your Esky back.
The tides mid-week were exactly what the calamari fishermen like for fishing off the San Remo jetty in the evening and from the reports there was plenty there giving it a try to collect a bit for bait and some for the table.
Several people told me that they headed down to the jetty and while they were walking on others were walking off not because there was no squid but because they had bagged out already.
We had at least a dozen reports from people that bagged out on calamari during the week but it wasn’t just bag out on average size, it was bag out with some quality size ones in the Esky.
We also lost track of reports from those who may not have bagged out but had good catches anyway.
The best for the week was the San Remo jetty but we had a few reports from Newhaven jetty, Cowes jetty and even one from Rhyll.
The beaches were a bit quieter but those in the boats or kayaks just off the beach were constant.
Almost every report we had this week was from those using artificial jigs. Colours were mixed and there wasn’t a real stand out that was better than the rest; white, red, pink, orange amongst the best.
The tides were on the dead side this week and it showed on the whiting reports during that time but either side of the slow moving tide changes and the reports continued the same as they have been for the past few months.
There were whiting caught on the slower days but everyone told us that it was hard going and the numbers were down. The quality is continuing although we are slowly seeing smaller ones and whiting that are not quite the same condition as we have been seeing.
Having said that even the lighter ones we are seeing at the moment five years ago were considered in good condition.
Cleeland Bight was the best area this week and we had reports from both the run out and run in tides. The smaller of the whiting came from the top end of the bay near Bass River, Reef Island and we had several reports from the other side of the island around Cowes and Rhyll with mixed size and quantity reported.
Tortoise head was the only other boating spot that we had reports from. There were a couple of reports from land-based customers but no one with more than one fish each, the jetty at Newhaven; beach in Cleeland Bight and from the beach at Ventnor.
Some good snapper reports this week but customers are saying the snapper are still not really hitting hard or in big numbers.
While several managed their bag of over 40cm fish there were plenty that only managed one or two.
There were also plenty that didn’t even manage one despite doing everything right and being in the right areas. Most of the reports this week came from the shallower areas and from later in the day.
The reports that came from during the day came from the hour before the change of tide with Elizabeth Island to Spit Point the best.
Several customers that were chasing whiting around the top light and Reef Island areas told us they were at times plagued by small pinkies.
Several also reported catching pinkies below the bridge in Cleeland Bight with a few better size ones good enough to take home.
Those chasing snapper from the land also found a few this week with surprisingly the best spot San Remo jetty.
Newhaven produced a couple and it was certainly slower now than it was a month ago. The other spot for a few pinkies was the beach at Newhaven Caravan Park.
The quality gummy reports are still coming in and although most are only finding one keeper when they are around 6kg to 8kg, that’s not a bad feed.
We did get reports from some customers that managed more than one keeper. Everyone managed plenty of pups both gummies and schoolies with the odd seven gill.
From the reports, there wasn’t much of a pattern as to where the gummies were. Every report of keepers was in 8m of water or more.
With the good weather, there was the odd opportunity to head offshore, although no one has been keen to do a Mako drift yet, not knowing what the weather is doing from one minute to the next.
The flathead grounds however aren’t that far offshore and those who headed out managed a good feed a couple even bagging out on flathead up to 40cm – the area between The Cape and Kilcunda bridge between 30m and 40m the best.
In closer there was some good numbers of silver whiting which for those who haven’t tried them are more than worth keeping to eat. Just make sure when you catch them you keep them cool otherwise they will get a very strong fish smell to them. Yes, they are a small fillet but are a firm flesh and very quick and easy to fillet.
You can also try to pickle them as they are perfect size and type of flesh for that.
Every week we have some type of report that stands out from the rest for size or effort and this week we had four of them.
The first of them was a young angler that headed out with his dad at Port Albert and managed a mixed bag of flathead, garfish and salmon.
Next was a customer that puts in plenty of hours fishing but has never managed to strike a hot bite but on Thursday did just that and managed to bag out in a very short time. Might take some time before the smile has gone!
The next two are probably equal for the best for the week for different reasons. Firstly, was a customer that came in to weigh a fish during the week which was a 10.5kg Mulloway which in itself isn’t a bad effort but it becomes a bigger effort when he told me he was in a kayak.
The other one was from a customer that spends more time fishing than most of my customers. Heading out one evening during the week chasing some whiting in the bay when she hooked a fish that was certainly her personal best but one of the biggest we have seen in 10 years, an 81cm yank flathead that after a few photos was returned to the water.
Barramundi: Come and get it
RECREATIONAL anglers in Gippsland will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to catch barramundi in Hazelwood starting this week.
From Friday, December 9, residents and keen anglers will be able to catch Barramundi at the Hazelwood pondage.
The new fishery will give keen anglers from across the state the rare opportunity to cast a line for the iconic species for the first time ever in Victorian waters.
The pondage was previously closed to all fishing to allow the stocked Barramundi to grow and be monitored by Fisheries Victoria staff, who tested the Barramundi’s diet composition, flesh quality and aggregation patterns.
Fisheries experts have carefully monitored progress of the stocked barramundi since April through leading research methods including acoustic tagging and listening stations, water temperature loggers and electro-fishing.
The daily bag limit for Hazelwood barramundi has been set at one per person per day.
Given the unique nature of this body of water, an independent human health food safety risk assessment found that the consumption of barramundi is safe at recommended levels of two to three serves per week.
Boosting participation in recreational fishing is the primary aim of the State Government’s Target One Million plan, which aims to increase angler numbers to one million by 2020 and get more people fishing, more often.
Due to the immense popularity in the fishery, a ‘Barra Ballot’ is open for all boat based fishers.
The ‘Barra Ballot’ will be open until December 14 and successful applicants will be randomly selected.
To register your interest visit www.vic.gov.au/barra