A typical gummy shark caught offshore recently.

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

THERE has been a slight improvement in the bay reports over the last few days while offshore continues with several species reported again this week. With less traffic and reasonable tides early in the week there were some very good whiting reports. The numbers per session haven’t improved a lot over the last 12 months but because the quality has been so good people aren’t too concerned about catching less than their bag. And because there have been so many people fishing offshore and the conditions have been good, several reports of whiting have come from the few spots you can catch them and, as always, the size is a bit bigger than those in the bay.
Although a slight improvement it is still a struggle and a few feet or minutes off and you will come home empty handed. The trick while it is like it is in the bay at the moment is to lower your expectations and be happy with low numbers and plenty of hours. There still hasn’t been too much of a pattern to the reports as to which area is best at what time of the tide or day. If I had the pick out something that has been common to the reports in the bay is that you need to be ready. The windows in which the fish come on are very small and close quickly so if you were to get bitten off there isn’t time to be tying rigs. Both the pinkies and the whiting seem to be doing the same thing and you will get a couple and need to then move once they stop biting. You may choose to stay in the one spot and some have said it is better but there can be a long wait for the fish to come back around. We had a few reports of whiting from those fishing deeper this week, mainly chasing pinkies and it could be because the water is so warm in the bay and the fish have pushed into the deep to get cooler water. Some of the other reports of whiting in shallower water we got came from each end of the day and could be for the same reason. I am certainly no expert, but I would think the animals living in the shallower areas of the bay, food for whiting and other fish would be staying buried in the mud or sand during the heat of the day and come out at night or like some other fish retreat to the deeper water where it will be cooler.
Pinkies have been similar to the whiting and chances are you will catch one while fishing for the other. The size has been all over the place with some very small ones showing up this week and in big numbers, which always makes it difficult to get baits to the bigger fish. There seems to be two types of pinkies around, small undersize and 38cm to 42cm with nothing in between. I would go out with the expectation of catching pinkies or whiting so same setup, same or similar rods, most whiting gear will handle the pinkies without any problem. Don’t forget where ever you are fishing to throw a bigger rod with a bigger bait on it out the back out the way just in case a gummy or bigger snapper comes along.
Every year we have one or two people wander in with a story from an offshore fishing trip, and this year it’s a daily occurrence. If someone was to walk in and ask me to weigh a marlin for them it wouldn’t be much of a surprise the way the reports are going. The flathead continued this week although a few said they had to go looking for them and actually found them much shallower than the last couple of weeks but still found them. The other problem is the bigger couta have come back from holidays and as usual taking a liking to peoples rigs. Silver whiting are in close and not too hard to find or get a good bag if you want but like the flathead the Couta are mixed in with them. Plenty of reports of slimmeys mackerel and some yakkas, problem is most of them are coming up in a berley trail and not along the coast for those looking for kingfish live baits. If you go looking you won’t have too many problems finding the arrow squid but keep checking different depths. Salmon, if I wasn’t seeing the photos I wouldn’t believe the stories we are hearing this year with fish up to 4kg. While we have seen the odd larger salmon, nothing this big though, over the years we have been in the shop we have never seen the numbers. Most who have caught these bigger salmon have told us that they could have caught their bag easily but after 6 or so of these big fish they have plenty of salmon steaks and bait for a long time. If only we could work out a way of pushing the schools into the beaches a lot more people could be catching them. If you do come across a school of these salmon while offshore, a lure will be your best chance, and some bigger ones will help because they are just making a meal of some of the smaller ones. It’s also a good chance to tune in the sounder and have a look along the edge of the school, you will be surprised with what you will see, there are some much bigger fish under there. We were told of some very good kingfish caught offshore this week, up to 18kg and we weight a very healthy 12kg one on Saturday. Anybody comes into the shop and asks how to catch them we always tell them you need live bait, problem was the dozen or, so we had reported this week, while all caught on bait it was all dead. Squid was the thing to have this week with strips slow trawled and for those who think frozen is no good some of the best kingfish this week were caught on the box using a squid set up like a live bait, so as I keep saying, try everything as something is bound to work.
I hope to have more information soon, but I am being told there is a diving club being set up in San Remo/Phillip Island and they are just going through the legal stuff. If this club happens we hope to be able to include each week in our reports a section on reports from divers and hopefully we will get photos also to include on our social media and reports. If you think the reports will include exact locations of where they are diving I would probably think again because divers are more secretive than most land or boat fishermen. What I hope is to be able to give you general areas and reports with plenty of underwater photos just to add a bit more interest to the fishing report. While I have no photos or a lot of information yet, this week I have seen photos of some very good sized crays, a green lip Ab the size of a dinner plate, big salmon, kingfish and sightings of bluefin tuna.