While fishing for snapper on Sunday Mark managed this 37.5kg Mulloway.

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

From the reports we have been getting, this season is one of the best for many years, with the exception of whiting of course which remain very inconsistent. I can hear people already saying that’s a load of rubbish because they can’t catch much at all and I have plenty of customers in the same boat, as the saying goes.
We will base the quality of the season on the amount of people that come in the door giving us reports and not on some of our good fishermen customers. This is where the difference comes in and while you might see or hear from a few of your mates, we hear from 100s which give us a very different picture of how good the season is.
I have a few of my good snapper fishermen that haven’t turned a reel as yet and are still looking but luck hasn’t been on their side, yet. One of the best ways to judge how many are being caught was to wander down to see how many frames are in the water but I am finding more and more people are cleaning the fish at home or cleaning them in the boat then filleting them at home, might have a bit to do with the facilities we have at our ramps, so it’s not really a good indication anymore.
Snapper reports have just got better and better and at this stage showing no sign of slowing, hopefully continuing for a few weeks to come when we will see the influx of pinkies.
As it always is when the season is a good one it’s difficult to work out the best spot to head. The most consistent has been in the shallower parts of the bay, 6m and under and then over the weekend we had more than a dozen reports from 10m and above off Rhyll. The quietest area for reports to us this season has been above Corinella, even early season. Over the last week the reports have come from some different spots or areas that have been quiet over the last few years. There was a run of snapper in the area between reef island and Leola shoal during a couple of the evening. We see snapper from this area often but normally over Christmas and they are the much smaller pinkies. There was a few good reports from in Cleeland Bight, late evening but the majority of the reports came from the corals area which narrows it down to probably 5km2. Over the week the majority of the reports were from the 6m and below, especially when the sun came out during the low tide warming up the mud. We are starting to see the odd pinkie turn up but most of the snapper are 40cm or better with the best for the week a 9.7kg
Whiting reports, although disappointing the pattern of the last month or so hasn’t changed with not big numbers but quality or undersized fish. There seems to be plenty of very small fish up the top of the bay, bass river, Maggie shoal, Reef island and even into dickies bay. The better reports are coming from in Cleeland Bight and now off Cowes/Ventnor but as I said the numbers aren’t there and if you manage half a dozen you have had a good day.
We then, as always get that customer that wander into the shop to tell us he just bagged out on whiting in the same spot several had told us they didn’t see a fish. By the reports we are getting about the small fish we should have a good Autumn whiting season but might be a struggle until then. From the reports there are some good schools of bigger fish but working out where and when is very difficult and not to mention frustrating. We have started to get a few land-based whiting reported and from the usual spots, beach at Ventnor, beach in Cleeland Bight, the odd one from the jetties.
We have lost track of how many trevally that have been reported this season from both the boats and from the jetties. Many of them are very respectable in size and most are being caught by people chasing whiting so on light gear which can be a good fight. There is no real why, how or where and we are being told they just seem to turn up while you are fishing either for whiting or just off the land somewhere. They are taking whatever is in the water at the time, pippies, Bluebait, pilchard or squid so nothing special. We are also getting some very big salmon reported from those fishing in the bay. We always get salmon reports but up the bay they are usually very small and not much bigger than a small fillet bait with the bigger ones showing up toward the entrances. The ones reported lately from around the coral’s areas have been a very respectable 1kg or better with some nudging 2kg.
Almost all of the reports have told us the same thing, the first they know they are there is they start jumping in the berley trail. Only a couple have come from those using bait with most of the more successful reports using lures.
Calamari seem to be one of the easiest to catch with plenty reported over the last week or so both from the land and boats but especially the kayaks. San Remo jetty, Newhaven jetty, the beach at Cleeland Bight and Ventnor all produced calamari both on baited and artificial jigs. In the boats it was off Cowes and in Cleeland Bight with mostly artificial jigs working.
There was plenty of people that didn’t manage to find any, but the positive reports far outweighed the negative reports this week.
The catch of the week would have to be the report I received early Sunday morning when a customer phoned asking to weigh a fish. It wasn’t until he told me what it was that I realised I wouldn’t be able to help because the bigger scales I have here were away being certified.
Looking for snapper with the other 100+ boats out on Sunday morning a rod took off and because the water wasn’t all that deep it was guessed as a ray. It was a huge surprise to all on board when they saw the colour of a very big mulloway. Any size mulloway is difficult to find and of all my customers very few have caught one, but Mark managed a fish of a lifetime, 1.6m 37.5kg. It’s not that there is a shortage of these fish, they are just a very difficult fish, to firstly find, secondly hook and the hardest of all land.