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

OVER the years many customers have told me that the silver whiting or school whiting that you catch offshore aren’t all that good to eat and that you should only keep them for bait.
Generally when you ask a few more questions you find out they have never tried them and are going on what they have been told.
If you haven’t tried them before now is your chance to see how they are filleted and cooked.
On Sunday at the Fishing Village Festival at around 12pm there will be a demonstration of how to fillet and cook school whiting and you will be able to taste the cooked fish to see what they are like.
People tell me many different reasons for not eating them with smell the most common one and I will admit they can get that way but it is normally because they are allowed to get warm in the fish box, ice will fix this and keep them as fresh as they were when you caught them.
Another way to eat them and very popular with many of my customers is pickled, it’s the pickling recipe that takes some working out and generally a close kept secret.
Sunday is also our annual stock clearance sale and we will be setting up around 6am with the sale going all day.
During the week we will be posting on our Facebook page some of the items on sale with plenty more available on the day.
The sale is only on Sunday in store and will be for sales on that day with no lay-by available
The festival will have plenty to do for the whole family and starts at 9am finishing around 4pm.
The long weekend is also the San Remo Fishing competition and will run from 6am Saturday with all fish to be weighed by 1pm Monday
There are plenty of prizes up for grabs and it is open to all ages and abilities both land based and boating anglers.
You also have the chance to win a $650 rod and reel combo just by entering. Forms are available on our web site, Facebook page and in store and you can enter anytime during the week or Saturday morning.
There were plenty of fish caught this week but there was one species that took up most of the conversations and social media pages, Bluefin Tuna.
History says that tuna are not new to the area and if you do a little research there are photos around of them being caught many years ago off the various rock ledges around the island and offshore in boats.
While they are not new to the area they haven’t been here for some time, with a couple of bigger fish showing up last year and schools of them this year.
The majority of the ones we have seen so far this year have been around the 15kg mark with a few bigger and a few smaller as you would expect.
The best part of it has been the numbers that have shown up and been caught with very good soundings of large schools that couldn’t be coaxed to take a lure.
Almost all the tuna so far are coming from the flinders area and don’t forget to leave your radio on for the days the gunnery range is doing test firings.
There have been two that we know of caught in between pyramid rock and seal rocks.
The rest offshore has been about the couta, how to stay away from them and not lose too much gear.
We fished offshore on Tuesday towards Kilcunda in about 45m of water and had no trouble at all losing rigs, it was simple: put your bait on, drop your line over the side and count to two then wind it in and re-rig.
The frustrating thing is when you could get to the bottom there is plenty of flathead and mostly tigers.
After a while we would just look at the sounder and when the red line of couta would thin out dropped down get a couple of flathead then wait for a break again.
We were only keeping flathead over about 32 and got plenty for a few feeds and threw more back than we could count. We also caught mackerel of all sizes, silver whiting draughtboard sharks, banjos and a very large seven gill shark.
Other reports were very similar just throw in a few salmon and a gummy with two Mako’s reported for the week.
In the bay the whiting have woken up again and the reports this week were the best for a couple of weeks. It also helped that the tides were perfect both ends of the day for those who fish below and above the bridge.
Below the bridge in Cleeland bight it was low tide and day break when most of the whiting were caught.
The most successful of the whiting fishermen this week were heading back to the ramp when others were heading out.
From the reports there didn’t seem to be one spot better than the other in Cleeland bight with good reports from several of the more popular spots.
The whiting were excellent in quality and it wasn’t a surprise to lo into an esky and see a dozen over 40cm.
During the day was nothing too special and while we had a few reported everyone said it was hard work with many moves needed.
The quality was still good but numbers were a struggle, then as the day went on the whiting got a bit smaller.
Once you then got to the evening when the workers headed out for an evening fish the numbers started picking up.
The size of the whiting caught in the evenings wasn’t quite as good as those caught in the mornings. Nothing really stood out with baits this week and the usual pippies, pilchard and squid all did the job.
A by-catch from those fishing for whiting during the day was pinkies with some very respectable size around at the moment.
A few customers came in this week telling me they actually bagged out on pinkies with a couple over the 40cm mark.
The smaller pinkies came from those catching them on the whiting spots and those who went looking for pinkies, usually in slightly deeper water and over the corals found the bigger fish.
Calamari were slightly better this week but are very quiet compared to other years and that is both on the land and the boats.
This year we are seeing more couta than we have for many years and when we get that run of couta before Christmas the calamari always shut down and become very difficult to catch so maybe that is the reason why they are quiet now.
There is nothing to suggest that they have disappeared altogether because we are still getting reports from customers saying they are seeing some big schools of them swimming through the bay but are very flighty when you throw a jig into them.
As is with all fishing it’s only a matter of time and I will be reporting that there are plenty being caught.