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

IT’S that time of the year again. Christmas has been and gone, we are now in a new year, the kids are back at school, and the fishing reports will slow down a bit- not because of a lack of fish, but due to a lack of people. The jetties, beaches and boat ramps will be much quieter and easier to get a spot, and it also means a quick catch up for most of the businesses, with the week days much quieter and most of our trade in February on weekends. We also reduce our hours during the week, going back to 8.00am opening Monday to Friday, with 6.00am still on weekends and public holidays, until May. That’s not to say everything is over; there will still be plenty of reports of fish being caught over the next three or four months. What we will see is an increase in the Mako, Kingfish, Flathead and other offshore species reports, as we hopefully get into our normal north-east autumn winds.
I’ve been looking back over my Christmas/January reports and, weather wise, we have had one of the best and most consistent runs of fishable weather that I can find. There were very few, if any, days throughout January that you couldn’t have gone fishing. Before everybody says we didn’t catch any fish, though- I didn’t say the fishing was better, just the weather. Fishing, especially in the last couple of weeks, has been tough but, as I wrote last week, maybe it’s just too warm and people are fishing in the wrong depths. Also, as I keep writing in the weeks where most are missing out, somebody always manages to catch something. Once again that was the case this week, especially over the long weekend.
Fishing in the bay has been a bit of a lottery, and lots of patience was needed, but we still had some reasonable fish reported. The pinkies are not as thick as they were a couple of weeks ago, but we still had several reported, and the whiting are very hot and cold. Pinkies came from the corals area and towards Leolia Shoal, with a couple from below the bridge in Cleeland Bight. The size of those reported was respectable, with most of them around the 40cm mark. Plenty of Flathead were reported from off the corals, but the majority of them were undersized and throw backs. There was the odd keeper, but nothing over 30cm. the gummies were like the Flathead, plenty of them undersized and not a lot of keepers. The only difference was, when you did get a keeper, it was more than big enough to take home. The smaller gummies were caught mostly on the corals and shallower areas, whilst the bigger ones from the channel near Elizabeth Island and back towards Gardeners Channel.
The better whiting reports came from the Cowes side of the bay this week, with only a handful of them from over this side. Tortoise Head, Rhyll Banks and off Ventnor were the best. The problem was working out which was going to be the best on which day. The only constant with all the whiting reports was, while the sun high in the sky, it was time to chase something else. Sizes were reasonable, but numbers nothing too special, just enough for a couple of feeds most said. The whiting reported from the San Remo side were still small, but there were plenty of them, just none good enough to take home.
Much of the fishing is being done offshore currently, with the reasonable conditions, and we are seeing plenty of people head out that normally don’t. If you are heading offshore and new to it, don’t forget that, while you might travel several kilometres offshore and the tide has little effect, it is still very tidal around the entrances, and the clam heading out could be a very different story coming home, as a few visitors found out during the week. While its nothing like some of the dangerous bar crossings that you can encounter in other places, it becomes very short and sharp and can stand up taller than the distance apart and can be just as dangerous. With the eastern entrance, it can often look worse than it is because of the funnelling effect and the sand bar just inside but, like all situations, just travel at the right speed and there should be no problem.
Kingfish and Makos are the main target for those heading out, and we have seen plenty of success from both. The Mako reports have still come in from reasonably close and inside the 50m line, whilst the kingfish are being caught from Cape Shank to Cape Patterson. There are plenty of tricks to improve your chances of catching both of these fish and would take a whole page to mention them, but there are a couple of things that might help from the reports we have had over the last couple of weeks. Makos have all been caught early in the day and on tuna or squid baits and, as I said, in water under 50m in depth. Apart from a good berley trail and gear to handle them, that’s about it with shark fishing, not a lot to it but time and patience. Kingfish, on the other hand, need a bit of homework and the chances of landing one on your snapper gear are slim. Live bait and a good knowledge of your sounder are a couple of the keys to be successful, and one trick a customer told us about is, when making up a lead line for trolling live bait, use a knife jig instead of barrel sinkers, as this will give you a weight that also acts as a flasher.
Finally, entry forms are now available in-store for the whiting competition in April, and we are just finalising the entry for our Good Friday Appeal competition. Both will be posted online shortly, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for more information. For the April whiting competition, entries must be in by Monday, April 1. No late entries.