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

ABALONE knife, Abalone knife, what’s legal and what’s not? That’s a question we have been getting asked a lot of late, and we have been probably as confused as most. So, we asked the question of those who should know: fisheries. The rule is slightly confusing, and hopefully with the rewrite of the fishing guide it will be made a little clearer. The rule as it stands says, “You must use a blunt instrument when taking abalone. You must not use knives, screwdrivers or any sharp instrument that could cut the abalone”. The confusion we have found has come from the “any sharp instrument” part of the rule. I will try to make this less confusing or complicated; the description of an Abalone tool that we have been given from fisheries that is acceptable is that the tool must be a flat lever type tool, the very tip of the tool must be blunt and wider than a knife or screwdriver, 2cm is good and a rounded edge is best. From the front edge of the tool for the first few cm, 5cm each side is good, towards the handle must also be blunt and preferably rounded. From there down, it can basically be whatever you want- a knife edge, serrated, etcetera. The concern is for the part of the tool that you use to lever the abalone, the tip of the tool. Hopefully this has cleared it up for you, but if you are unsure then please bring your Abalone tool into the shop and I will explain what we have been told. Something else that creates a lot of confusion, a rule we checked and reported a few years ago, are the dates on flares. However, it is quite simple, and easier to understand than the Abalone tool. On the flares is a use-by date given as a month and a year, with no mention of a day. Therefore, as explained to us from marine safety, once the flares reach the use-by date they are out of date. This means that, despite what many think, they go out of date at the start of the month rather than the end.
On a few occasions over the last month or so, I have arrived at work and there have been people waiting for me, wanting nothing more than a fishing licence. These people have also been very disappointed when I told them they could have actually logged onto the fisheries website and purchased a licence on their way down to go fishing and been waiting in the ramp queue instead of the front of the shop. Purchasing your licence online will be something you eventually need to get used to, as more and more agencies decide not to do them anymore. There is a push by fisheries at the moment to get agencies to, via a direct portal, fill in your details for you and to do away with paper licences. While this sounds like a good idea, all the necessary hardware is at our cost and, for someone like us and many others, it will be much too slow and impractical for the commission that they give us. While we haven’t been told that we must change right now, the rumour is that it might be soon, and we will assess then if we will still be doing fishing licences. If you want a twelve-month or three-year licence, there are some benefits to doing them online. They’re cheaper, you get a confirmation sent to your email and therefore have a record if it goes missing, you go straight into their system and they are valid as soon as you complete the form.
With everyone back at work, the fishing reports have mostly been confined to the weekend, where quite a few took advantage of the very good conditions. Saturday was a little quieter on the water, with the highway closed due to the fires and many of those from Melbourne staying home, but there was plenty of boat traffic on Sunday. Those heading out on Sunday did so very early to beat the heat and expected wind change, and the phone messages started coming in not all that long after we opened. The majority of the boats launching at Newhaven got to the channel and turned right, either to fish in Cleeland Bight or to head offshore in the near-perfect conditions.
Offshore, kingfish is the focus of many. The problem is that it’s a bit like gold fever at times, with one person finding one and everyone else trying to work the same piece of ground. I have written a bit over the last few reports regarding the kingfish, and nothing much has changed. There are two types of people fishing for them at the moment, 30 people all together, trying to avoid each other trawling and aimlessly on a piece of ground that they read somewhere is the right place to go, and then the boats on their own, working a school of fish and catching them, sounds like snapper fishing! The best this week was a 14.2kg and a handful over 10, with a bunch of rats thrown in.
Flathead have also been good this week, with a few boats on Sunday, especially, getting into double figures. Those customers who reported flathead this week only kept them if they were over 30cm, and said they threw back plenty under 30cm. They weren’t all huge, and the best was around the 45cm mark, but ten at 45cm is still a good bag of fish and a great feed of one of the best table fish we catch around here. The Flathead came mostly from the 25m to the 40m lines and not far from the entrance.
There have been plenty of schools of bait fish offshore with bigger fish under them, and a couple of Makos reported for the week as well. Most of those who reported the bait balls didn’t have anything on board to check out what might have been under them, and those who did got plenty of the bait but couldn’t produce anything by dropping lures or a live bait under the bait ball. Gummy reports were a little quiet, but we did see a handful of Pinkies, both small and big enough to be called Snapper. No problem finding seven gill sharks and a couple of big Bronze Whalers reported swimming around. We also had plenty of reports from those dragging around live baits that the seals were very appreciative and enjoying the feed.
Back in the bay, and the calamari continued to be reported, both from land and boat. Reports were a little inconsistent, but there were still some good ones during the week in all the usual spots. We had some of the better Whiting reports we have seen for several weeks, and all from in Cleeland Bight and in early morning. Once the sun got up, they just switched off and it was time to chase something else. We had several reports from boat cutomers in the Cowes area of Whiting, and they were all telling us that they found plenty, but all in deep water. There isn’t much that will stay around when the sun gets up, except, that is, from the reports that Garfish were plentiful in Boys Home channel.