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

One of the many Mako sharks caught this week.

WE have been waiting a while this season and finally Saturday produced an almost perfect day for the offshore fishermen.
The conditions weren’t 100 per cent like the forecast but it was perfect for a full day drifting for shark or flathead.
The bay was calmer and glassed out for most of the day, making it a hot afternoon on the water and probably why most were out early in the morning.
The one question we get asked several times a day this time of the year is what is the best time to go fishing and while there is the odd time that works out better than others, it’s more a safety thing and the best time to go fishing is when you have the time to go.
There are also plenty of theories as to the best wind, with as the saying goes ‘East fish bite least’.
If you subscribed to this theory you would have missed out on some good fishing on Saturday.
In the bay, it was extremely a light easterly but a bit stronger offshore, still from the east and it was the best day for reports so far this season.
There were still plenty that missed out but that happens on any day regardless of the wind, but there is also plenty of fish in the freezers of those who were successful.
With the forecast of good conditions we had an early start on Saturday morning with plenty wanting berley and baits to chase a Mako shark offshore.
Good customer Mitch was the first in and the first on the water.
He was also the first to send in a report of a Mako capture and it came not too far into the drift.
The reports then came in regular, about every half hour or so for the rest of the day and not just from one spot, but from the wind mills to the western entrance.
About the only thing similar in the reports was that 40m to 50m of water was the spot to be.
By the end of the day we had seven Makos, one blue shark and two thresher sharks reported with another four or so seen swimming in the berley trails.
Several fishermen also reported missed hook-ups which could have been the ones they eventually caught.
One mistake many make is as soon as something takes your bait then lets it go, people tend to wind it in straight away to check it.
A shark will often stay around in your berley trail for some time, even after trying to take your bait so the best thing you can do is leave it there for a while and see if it comes back.
Most of the time you will be using large baits so it will still be there, the shark may have just bitten on the hook and let it go, but it will generally come back for another look.
There are hundreds of opinions as to the best way to hook them, strike as soon as the shark runs, give it more line when it starts taking line, many won’t put a bait in the water until they see a shark or have one swimming around the boat and like most things in fishing there are no set rules and you will find every fish is different.
The Flathead were also on the bite offshore during the week although the best day on Saturday, they were a bit harder to find.
We had some good reports both of size and number and from several depths but in similar areas, 25m to 60m from the end of the cape to the glass house.
The Flathead were a good mixture of Tigers and Sandys and some very respectable 50cm ones caught, although the average was around 38cm.
There is plenty of bait swimming around out there and that’s probably why the Makos have shown up.
Slimmeys have shown up, with anything from the pencil ones to very large whole shark bait size.
Arrow squid are plentiful and the trick has been finding the depth they are in, with most people reporting they found them in the bottom third of the depth they were fishing and not too many up high.
The bigger Couta are following the squid and the smaller ones are just following anything and can be found all over the place.
Large schools of Salmon have been seen and several boats, especially those with kids aboard, have chased them around catching some up to 2.5kg.
Reading this I know you are going to be saying I was out there all day and saw nothing.
My reports come from a lot of people and I would have to say for everyone that said they got baitfish or Flathead, three said they saw nothing, so that’s just fishing I guess.
While I have only seen a couple of Kingfish landed by boats around the Island, those under the water are reporting seeing some very good schools around the Pinnacles, Pyramid Rock and the George Kermode, so once we get a few more calm days I would expect a few reports to come in.
Unfortunately the only bait fish that have been a bit scarce has been the Scad Yakkas, which are the preferred live baits by those chasing Kingfish.
While most of our reports come from live bait, you need to be prepared with a selection of lures, stick baits or poppers for a bit of surface skimming, deeper divers, x-rap 15 or 20 to get under the schools of Salmon and maybe a knife jig of some sort.
You also need to be prepared with a couple of made up ready to go live bait rigs, because when it starts to happen it happens quickly and a rolling boat is not the place to try and crimp a rig together.
The other thing Kingfish will do is destroy inferior gear, while you don’t need to spend $1,000 on an outfit, your $50 cheap 8kg combo isn’t quite going to do the job.
It is still very much an untapped fishery here and each year people are developing different ways to catch Kingfish and for those who have never caught one, they are extremely strong and fast and when born they’re given a map to every sharp rock in the ocean and that’s exactly where they will head when hooked, but they can be worth the frustration as they are a very good eating fish.
Back in the bay and it is typical of most Christmas or busy times that the first few days are very good then it’s as if the fish go on holidays.
Usually after a few days of heavy boat traffic the fish become very scattered and extremely difficult to find during the day time.
It doesn’t mean the fish have gone anywhere, but you need to target them at a different time.
The successful ones this time of the year are generally those you see coming home as you are leaving or leaving as you are coming home.
That goes for most fish in the bay this time of the year, but like all fishing there are plenty of exceptions and it means a bit more work during the day.
Whiting this week were good although we are seeing plenty of small pencil ones now especially in areas like Reef Island during the day.
There has been some good size whiting caught at Reef Island, but very early morning or late evening.
Cleeland Bight has been the same and a few good bags have come back from those keen enough to get out of bed before daylight.
One place during the day that has been reasonably successful has been around Tortoise Head, although those reporting catches did say it was a bit of hard work with a few moves needed.
There has been the odd land-based report, from Newhaven jetty, Boys Home Road, Ventnor Beach and Sunderland Bay, but not many more than one or two each.
The other spot whiting were caught during the week was at Foots, both off the land and the boat, with what seems to be a very short window of an hour or so over the tide change.
Snapper have slowed right down and we only had a couple of reports of fish over 5kg, but several of the pinkie to Snapper size around 40cm.
There are also plenty of very small ones and plenty of perseverance is needed to find a feed of size ones to take home.
It’s hard to advise on the best spot because it seems to change every day.
It could be the north end of The Corals one day, then Rhyll the next day, so like the whiting it might require a bit of driving around to find them and fish the tide changes in the deeper water as that seems to be the most successful way at the moment.
Calamari have been ok while nothing too special and I think they are affected more by the noise than anything else.
The boats have struggled a bit because of so many boats on the water, as you are unable to drift for them and must anchor which is generally not the most successful way to do it.
The boating reports have come from Cleeland Bight, Ventnor/Cowes and the odd one from Reef Island.
With so many people in the water swimming around the San Remo jetty, the only time to catch calamari has been very early morning and late evening into the dark when things are much quieter.
Very mixed reports as always with the colour of the jig and some having success using baited jigs, especially those from the beaches.
Several were reported from the beaches at Ventnor and in Cleeland Bight but again the quiet times were the best times.
For those wanting an early start don’t forget we are open from 6am every day until January 29 and like Saturday when several fisherman wanted an earlier start we can open earlier if you contact us.
For those interested in fishing competitions, we will be organising a comp on February 18-19
There will be over $2,500 in prizes for the heaviest Gummy, Snapper, Whiting, Flathead and Squid and just for entering you will go into the draw for a lucky entry prize of a $1,500 Tuna Charter for four people.
Entry forms can be picked up from the shop or on our Facebook page.