With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

THE first good days in quite a while and there were plenty taking advantage either giving the boat a run for the first time in a few months or just wandering down to the jetties and beaches.
There is less than a couple of weeks to go until the San Remo Fishing Festival on Saturday, September 14, and looking at the program there will something there for all to do and plenty of seafood to try.
I will be busy helping around the festival all day and Melanie is planning to have a “big sale”, she says. Exactly what I am not sure, but she will be doing updates on our Facebook page in the week leading up to the festival.
Because we have changed around some stock in the shop, I know there will be plenty on the clearance tables and she says there will be a % off in the entire shop. With a lot of our new seasons stock in already, it will be a great time to stock up with supplies for the new season.
A big part of the fishing festival will be the deckie race. Not only will it be a bit of fun but there is a share in $1000 cash up for grabs for the winners.
While the name suggests deckie, it is open to all, and you don’t even need to be that fit. The course is 25m long and consists of four legs, roll a cray pot, fill a fish bin with ice and carry it 25m, add in a life buoy run then finish with what was the most difficult leg last year – throwing a foam float into a cray pot.
The race is done in teams of two and there will be heats during the day with the finals in the afternoon.
There is a limit to the number of teams that can enter and surprisingly that number hasn’t been reached as yet so still time to get in but be quick.
There are two sections, adults and juniors (15-17) with a small entry fee, adults $20 per team and juniors $15 per team.
You can enter by following the links on the festival website, srfishfest.com.au or dropping into the shop, there might also be a chance to enter on the day if there is still space.
Something else that will be at the fishing festival and will be of interest to many of my customers is the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) fishing clinics for the kids. There will be four ½ hour clinics during the day at 10am, 11am, 1pm, and 2pm. They are limited to 15 kids per clinic.
These clinics are run by the VFA and all gear will be supplied but you must register. There is only one way to register and that is at the festival at the VFA site in the marquee on Saturday morning, you can register from 9am.
While fishing and the weather is improving, the fishing will still be a little slow for the next month or so and I wouldn’t put the rain coat away just yet.
It always amuses me talking to customers who see spring as this savour of our winter blues where history shows that it can be the exact opposite.
History shows that, at least early spring, can be very unsettled and windy. Thankfully, it also shows that once we head towards the middle of spring it settles and chill goes out of the air and the winds, while they can still be strong, become more consistent.
Those who were able to take advantage of the quality periods in the weather last week found that there are some quality fish already in the bay.
We had quality reports of most of the more favoured species but unfortunately a few reports of everybody’s favourite, draughtboard sharks as well. The draughtboards will be on their way out and will soon just be a memory of winter and they will make way for snapper and whiting.
The reports from the land-based customers has been a little slow with not too may venturing out yet. We didn’t see any snapper but typically most of the reports were made up of calamari and salmon. All the places you would expect to catch calamari produced but not without its challenges.
There has been plenty of fine weed stirred up and it’s like a magnet to your jig, but perseverance pays off and you will find a few.
The salmon on the beaches continues to be a little difficult and most definitely small.
We had at least a report from Kilcunda and the Island beaches but nothing to get too excited about. Where best to go? From the reports, just pick your favourite beach and head down prepared for a bit of work dodging weed and walking up the beach to find some clean water.
In the boats there was a bit more action with still the same stories of people looking around for some clean water but once you found it, it was as if the fish were looking for the same thing.
This applied especially to calamari, with all the fine weed in the water you had to look around until you found a clean patch then you had a chance of getting to work your jig without it being covered in weed.
The calamari we saw were good size, but numbers were low and not too many got anywhere near their bag limit. All colours, sizes and baited or artificial is the answer we give when we get asked what to use.
This time of the year it doesn’t seem to matter a lot with the bigger challenge to find that clean water and keep it simple. Cleeland Bight was the best, especially up near the quarry and other reports came from Reef Island and off Ventnor.
Snapper are starting to show up and in the places where you would expect to find them this time of the season – the channel along French Island between Tortoise Head and Elizabeth Island. Then up the top end around Spit Point, Corinella, and Tenby Point.
While we have seen a few, I wouldn’t jump in the boat thinking you were going to fill the esky just yet. The size has been good around the 5kg mark and best just over 7kg – the numbers are probably averaging out at one or maybe two a boat. A little surprising for this time of the year but those reporting catches are telling us that they are hitting hard already unlike the normal early season – light tap tap on the line.
Whiting were better and we actually had a couple of reports of people bagging out on fish all around the mid 30cm.
The best spot was above the bridge in Dickies Bay but the biggest fish for the season we have had reported came from below the bridge in Cleeland Bight and at 52cm it would beat most people’s PB. The bite was a little different and the best method seemed to be pick your spot and tide then just sit and wait; little bit of berley and a variety of baits, pippi, pilchard and calamari.
We had several reports of gummies with one customer telling us he couldn’t get away from 6kg-plus ones and caught double figure numbers, only keeping a couple of course and releasing the others.
From the photos, most seemed to be male with a couple of smaller females, where was he fishing? That he didn’t want to give away but from the background in the photos it was in the bay.
Offshore there is the odd flathead, not huge but worth taking home but plenty of miles – between Kilcunda and Woolamai and plenty of drops will be needed to find them.