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

AUSTRALIA day has come upon us already, with the summer flying past, but don’t worry- there’s still plenty of fishing time left before the boat needs to go under the cover. Over the Australia day weekend, just as we have been all of January, we will open at 6.00am for those who want an early start. We will be going back to 8.00am opening just after the Australia day weekend, but just for weekdays. For the next few months, 6.00am opening will continue on weekends and public holidays. We haven’t had one for a while, but we will have a guess the weight competition on Australia day and, for the next week or so until after the weekend, we will have a few specials, but you will need to keep an eye on our Facebook page to be part of it.
What a strange week we have had weather-wise, up and down, cold, hot, rain and sunshine and a reasonable amount of humidity. Unfortunately, the change in weather has come as a shock to the fish, I think, and catch numbers have come to a bit of a halt. Whilst they are still catching a few, and we are getting some good reports, customers are saying they are working hard to find them. The bay also seems to be very warm, with many customers telling us the fish almost seem warn to touch as you take them off the hook. Not sure if this is having an effect on the fishing, but we have had several people tell us the same thing. The best reports of most fish this week were from very early morning, which I guess goes with the warmer water, as the temperature would drop a little over night. As I said, I’m not sure if this is the actual reason or just a very believable theory, but the trick during the day or evening might be to fish a little deeper, and only fish the shallow areas before the sun gets up.
No matter how many non-reports we get, there is always someone catching something, and that goes for all species and all qualities of fish caught. That was the case this week, with many only catching rat kingfish, whilst others just seemed to turn up and have a 10kg or better in the boat within five minutes. This can be down to many things, and trying to work it out can only make it more frustrating. Chasing kings off Phillip Island is something that is becoming more popular every year, especially now people have worked out how to do it. It has taken awhile for people to forget how they catch them further north, and the key was speaking to some of the older fishermen around here who were catching them 40 years ago with lead lines, squid strips or live bait. The other trick has come from how they were caught, with many caught on couta lines. While they were heavy lines, it was normally on a hand line, so you couldn’t put too much hurt on the fish and basically just enough weight to head the fish your way. From those customers that are more successful, we get told that they have now put the 37kg gear away and are fishing lighter, not going too hard too early, and are now landing double what they used to. The other thing they are now doing is using their sounder and looking for areas that would hold kings, looking for the arches and then dropping their live bait down and hanging on. The best areas have been around Cape Shank and between Seal Rocks and Pyramid Rock; look shallow and deep and, once you have your live bait, use the sounder and spend time looking. The reports from the east end have been of rats and a couple of bigger ones dropped at the boat, but there are nowhere near as many fishing there, which probably accounts for the lack of reports. Yakkas have been the live bait of choice followed by squid, alive or dead. The best this week was over 15kg, with four more around the 10kg mark and plenty of rats.
The other offshore reports have come from those chasing makos and flathead, with one mako report coming from a customer chasing flathead and had a mako come up to the boat. The only thing they had was a gummy rod set up with a pilchard on mono, so they threw it at the shark and, lucky for them, hooked it in the mouth and after a short fight managed to land it. The flathead have been hard to find, and you still need to do some searching around before you get a good patch. They are there, but it can be frustrating. There are plenty of baitfish out there, with some very big mackerel and the typical slimmeys coming up the berley trail. Those catching flathead are telling me that, halfway up their flathead, it all of a sudden gets much heavier, then lighter closer to the surface, suggesting that the arrow squid are there. Schools of salmon aren’t as common as they were last year, but you have the chance of coming across one if you are heading wide, so have your lure rod ready to go.
In the bay, it has been very quiet. With many back at work, the jetties and beaches aren’t as crowded, and in the boat ramp carparks it is a lot easier to find a spot. This has meant nowhere near as many reports. That’s not to say there weren’t some quality ones caught, just very few. Almost every report that came in were from only a couple of areas. For boating, Cleeland Bight and Dickies Bay were popular, and from the land, surf beaches, Cleeland Bight beach and the jetty at San Remo and Newhaven were the best. The best fishing times were very early morning or late evening, with nothing much coming out in the heat of the day. It was the same from the land; whiting, calamari, trevally, salmon and a handful of pinkies made up the reports. Almost every report told us the same thing- it was hard work, but perseverance usually led to a feed. Perhaps the temperature of the water has something to do with it, or just the phase of the moon. Whichever theory is correct, it will change as the weather and the moon both change, and I’m sure those lucky enough to have some time off in February will benefit.