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

Steve had a good mixed bag of fish last week.

MANY unlucky people had to return to work last week whilst some, who looked at the forecast of decided to take that extra week off, took advantage of the quieter waterways and semi-decent conditions. Whilst the majority of the Christmas rush visitors have gone home, there seem to still be quite a few that had worked through Christmas and are now coming down to spend the last few weeks of school holiday with the family. The beginning of the week didn’t start with the best of tides, so we saw a bit of a decline in the quantity and quality of fish being reported but, as the week went on and the tide started to align with change of light, the reports improved. Many of the reports from this time of the year are land-based, and the majority of them from the younger anglers. The other thing we always find with the reports from the younger fishermen is that they are not set in their ways or ideas, and will often catch fish when they are not supposed to or use methods that others will say don’t work. That is where fishing stands out from other types of outdoor activities, there are no real rules on when or how to fish, except of course for size and bag limits set out by fisheries. There is no right or wrong way, there are many different ideas, all of them right, of course, and plenty of different methods and levels of experience will lead to the same result. That is, not catching fish, but getting people off the couch and into the fresh air.
The fishing reports this week, as I said, were a little quieter, but we did see several quality catches both from land and the boats. Calamari were reported more than any other species and several visitors that catch calamari where they live commented on how big the calamari are in this area. Off the land, the beaches at Ventnor and Cleeland Bight were producing some of a better quality, and almost all of them were caught on the change of the high tide, with the odd report from the evening. The jetty at San Remo was also quite good, but you needed to be out of bed very early or fish into the evening, because the people swimming around the jetty seemed to scare them off a bit. We had reports from all of the jetties around the Island, but the times they were caught were very mixed and there was no real pattern. Many were boating, and it seemed that if you put down a jig anywhere in the bay, sooner or later a calamari would come along. The evening and early morning, before the traffic, were the best in Cleeland Bight and for most parts of the bay, with the best spot during the day being outside the entrance in the little bay towards gull island. Reports for everywhere were mixed, with artificial, cheap or expensive and baited jigs all working.
Pinkies were next on the list, with plenty reported from the boats and yaks, especially from those out for an evening fish. Daytime was a little more difficult, but if you hunted around it was possible to find them across the corals ,along with the plague of undersize gummies and flathead. While all these small fish might be a nuisance at times, it is a very good sign of just how healthy the bay is at the moment. In amongst the small fish, there are some quality size ones and even a couple of snapper being caught, but they are random catches and I would still say the majority of the snapper have gone home. Cleeland Bight and off Cowes/Ventnor were also very good for pinkies, with good numbers reported from both areas.
Whiting! I think the definition in the dictionary for whiting is, ‘see frustrating’. Again, this week they were a little hard to find for many, and before everyone gets on the, ‘we have over-fished them’ band wagon, personally I don’t think that this is the case. I do agree with most that the size should be lifted to 30cm, though. We get to see a lot of people over the course of the week, and see several that have bagged plenty, also seeing plenty that got donuts. We have seen lower numbers over the last 18 months or so, and even over the last few years the numbers were down, but the average sizes were up. As I said a few weeks ago, the experts predicted that this because of the breeding cycles, and this year we have seen, for the first time in several years, hundreds of pencil size fish, which again goes with the predicted breeding of these fish. These fish will grow quickly, and the next couple of years are expected to be the same, so stocks will be good for a few years until the next poor breeding cycle comes around. While I don’t always subscribe to the theory of experts, it’s hard to argue against this one. The other thing that goes against those chasing whiting, but at the same time helping, is the health of the bay. Grass areas seem to be increasing, you speak to people and there is a lot of activity on the mud banks during low tide, food of the whiting has increased and there are more schools of bait fish in the bay than many can remember. So, they have plenty of fresh food to eat and sometimes it might just be as simple as that they aren’t hungry.
Offshore has well and truly started with all types of fish reported this week. The usual flathead reports came in as expected, with some good tigers now showing up in numbers. A little searching is still needed with reports from 30m to 55m, and from the cape to Kilcunda. Several smaller Mako sharks have now been caught, with most still chasing them in close 40m to 50m towards the wind mills. Some good quality gummies have shown up in the same area, and even the odd snapper. Arrow squid are there, for those who know where to find them, on the bottom in the weed, and schools of salmon and mackerel will come up in your berley trail. Still a little slow, but the reports of kingfish are starting, with mostly rats being caught. If you are chasing them, persevere, because those under the water are telling us that there are plenty of big ones amongst the schools of small ones.
Preparations have now started for our Easter long weekend Good Friday Appeal fishing competition, and once again we have been promised some quality prizes from our suppliers. Hopefully we can improve on last year and beat the $2,000 donated last year from the entries. We will get the entry forms out hopefully in the next month or so, and just a reminder that 100% of the entry fee goes to the Good Friday Appeal. The last couple of years, the competition has been focused around families fishing and this year will be no different, with the addition of a couple of family prizes to be given away over the weekend.
If you can’t wait until Easter, we are running a whiting competition that will go for the whole month of April. The competition has several prize categories for both adults and juniors, and the competition is only $30 entry for adults and $15 for juniors, with the heaviest whiting adult section prize being $500 cash. You can weigh as many fish through the month as you like for the other prize sections, but you must enter before the Monday, April 1. No late entries will be accepted. Entry forms are available in store, and we will put them online shortly through our Facebook or website. We are running the competition in conjunction with one of the local fishing clubs.