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

Mitch landed this quality gummy shark recently.

IT’S the end of the first half of the summer fishing season and like most Januarys, it started off with a bang then dropped off to hard work.
Like all years, the end of January brings the start of what is usually some of the best weather and fishing of the year over the next couple of months.
Late summer and right through to the end of autumn generally sees calm seas and some very good quality table fish in flathead, whiting and flake. Offshore comes into its own and you just never know what you might catch and for the more adventurous, makos and kingfish will now become a targeted species.
For those who like to take part in fishing competitions, there’s one we are organising for a local fishing club on February 18 and 19.
The competition starts Saturday morning and finishes Sunday at 2.30pm. Information and entries can be picked up from the shop or send me a text or email and I can send one out.
With over $2000 of prizes and a $1500 tuna charter for four people as a lucky entry prize, it will be well worth giving it a go.
You can enter at any time at the shop until 8pm on Friday February 17 and from 5am Saturday February 18.
There is a free BBQ breakfast each morning from 6am to 7am at the shop included in your entry cost.
The end of January also sees us have a breather for a few weeks and go back to opening at 8am during the week.
We will still be opening at 6am on weekends and public holidays right through until the end of April and the odd good day during the week when required.
The other bonus with the next few weeks is because everyone has a bit of a rest to get over Christmas and catch up on the overtaxed credit card, it is a great time during the week at the boat ramps with very little traffic.
By a long way, the best spot to fish this week has been offshore and about the only fish we didn’t have reported was a kingfish.
Several smaller makos were caught during the week and a couple of bigger ones were seen swimming around the boats but were not interested in taking a bait, which is no real surprise with so much food in the water for them.
From the reports, there is plenty of baitfish to be found and finally a few yakka’s have shown up for those who use them for live baiting kingfish.
There are slimmeys mackerel from pencil size to the big horse mackerel, which make good baits and berley.
If you do get onto some and have a vacuum sealer, do yourself a favour and vac them up and put them into the freezer for your winter gummies or early snapper.
There are plenty of arrow squid and you will find them deep, usually in the bottom third of the water depth.
The only problem you will have in getting both of these back to the boat is getting past the couta as there are, as many customers have put it, millions of them.
The couta are everywhere and getting your squid jig down or your sabiki jig down will be difficult, and for all those asking there are no tricks, just perseverance.
A couple of things that will help is to paint your sinkers black, use black swivels as small as you can get away with to reduce the bubbles or use a longer shank hook other.
Other than that, there isn’t a whole lot you can do.
The flathead offshore have also been the best of the season so far and we have seen several bags of mixed tigers and sand flathead 45cm or better.
The problem, as it is with all fishing offshore at the moment, is the couta and of course with the flathead you need to get to the bottom so it is even harder.
Several people have also told us that once they hooked their flathead it got much heavier on the way up and when they got it to the surface it was obvious why, with an arrow squid or two hanging off the back.
Make sure you have your net ready so you can land both.
Gummies have also been good and as is always the case, those caught offshore are quality size ones.
We have also had reports of blue and thresher sharks, pinkies, salmon, school shark and gurnard, and all have come from a different area but similar depth with 40m to 50m the place to be for all of it.
Reports have come from the western entrance to Cape Paterson and everywhere in between.
Those traveling out wide have not found much and a couple of customers that have fished Cody Banks over the last couple of weeks have come home empty handed from there and only got a feed once they stopped on the way home.
In the bay, it is like you are on a different planet with fishing very tough over the last week or so since the full moon.
About two days before the full moon, customers were complaining that fish were getting harder to find, then they just seemed to shut down and it’s only been the last day or so that things are improving.
Of course, they didn’t shut down completely and there was always someone that was finding some fish, but it was hard work.
I had a bit of a read back through my reports over the Christmas period for the last five or six years and not a lot changes.
It starts off good then slows by the end of the month and picks up again in early February.
The main difference this year is how good the offshore fishing is and I had to go back five years to find similar reports.
Whiting reports have been very slow, but like the rest of the bay they are on improving, especially those fishing the very early morning tides.
Because the early tide change has been the change of the low, the best spot has been below the bridge in Cleeland Bight.
The whiting have been good quality and numbers were reasonable over the weekend in Cleeland but very poor during the week or so before that.
The only other spot that has been ok is around Gardner’s Channel and Tortoise Head.
Everywhere else the numbers have been well down, but are showing signs of improvement towards the end of the weekend.
Pinkies were much the same as the whiting, very patchy but with nowhere standing out for reports and probably found in more places.
Many of the pinkies were very small and not a lot were big enough to bring home.
Like everything though we had the odd report of someone that managed to find a school of reasonable size pinkies around the 40cm mark.
Most of these reports came from the late tide and from the top end of the bay between Reef Island and Coronet Bay.
Calamari have been most disappointing as they normally don’t drop off in numbers too much, but with the wind change and the couple of ordinary days we had, it halted the reports but also bought a lot of weed to the land-based areas especially.
The jetty at San Remo saw most of the usual locals fishing during the week but most walked away with nothing in the esky.
There was a slight improvement on Sunday and I would expect now much of the noise has gone home things will continue to improve.