With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

CUP weekend has been and gone and now it’s a downhill run to Christmas which is only a handful of weeks away.
To say everybody can’t wait for the new year and a much better one ahead would be an understatement.
We can only hope for more weekends like the Cup weekend where the weather conditions were almost perfect for getting outdoors and probably the best we have had for many years.
Melbourne people are now allowed to head to regional and back to the Island for a fish and to some people’s dislike – who don’t have businesses – things will probably be a little hectic on the days of fine weather.
All the predictions are for a busy Christmas and the accommodation enquires would also suggest that plenty are looking to holiday locally this year.
When it does get busy, as locals it will take a little adjustment but it’s not the end of the world and as quickly as the place is invaded, it is vacated again and back to the quieter times.
Holiday people traditionally start late so look for the tides, head out early and return early or do an evening fish, head out mid-afternoon return in the evening, these times are generally the best time to fish anyway.
It’s pointless heading to what you will know to be the busiest time then complaining about all these extra people around. Do it smart and you can still find your piece of paradise to yourself. Also, remember visitors only get to enjoy it for a few weeks of the year and as a local you have it 365 days a year.
Around 12 months ago, the Victorian government introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags and at the same time we changed to paper bags instead of the plastic.
We now give out far less bags in general than we used to and it’s very pleasing to see many of our customers walking in with a bag in hand for their bait.
There are still some, however, that are unhappy and not sure what rock they have been living under for the last 12 months to tell us they have not heard of any such ban and despite being told on a few occasions over the Cup weekend that it should be part of our business that we provide them with a bag, we are not changing and recommend customers bring in a bag to take their bait home.
If you have been in over the last 12 months, you will also have noticed we don’t automatically offer a paper bag to you but please feel free to ask if you would like one.
It has gone from trying to find fish to report to working out how many of the fish I can get into the report.
Over the Cup weekend, we had most species reported and plenty of them; yes, there were some who missed out and still aren’t on the board but that’s nothing new and happens every year to someone without any type or reasonable explanation, that’s just fishing, as most would say.
With the sun out a lot more the temperature of the bay has come up a bit and we are starting to see the snapper heading to the shallows late in the day.
The very bright sunny days, while helping to warm the bay, don’t help the fishing in the middle of the day and most of the time it’s best to be home getting into the work around the house then head out for an evening fish.
If you do want to put a whole day on the water, I would suggest early start and fish for your whiting or snapper then once the sun gets up, head offshore for a feed of flathead or chase a calamari or two.
Snapper reports from the last week have been consistent and the very early fish in the deeper water off Rhyll or towards Elizabeth Island has been the best.
The middle of the day has been hit and miss across the corals and most are only finding the very small pinkies.
Late afternoon and evening the best has been heading to the shallow end of the corals and up onto the mud where there has been plenty caught.
Most of the snapper are hitting hard now and seem to be hungry taking almost any bait that you put down. I even had a few reports from customers using the large pilchards – we have whole and 4kg snapper – having no trouble devouring them in one go.
Undersized pinkies are still a problem wherever you go and you need to make a decision, stay or move.
We have had plenty of reports from those who stayed to suggest the bigger snapper are travelling with them – it just depends on how much bait you want to go through to catch the bigger ones.
We had our whiting competition on the weekend and weighed around 50 fish with the largest being 625g. While it wasn’t a monster, nor the longest, it didn’t matter as it was the heaviest and won the major prize.
We weighed plenty that were 500g to 600g and all very healthy whiting with most telling us they had a good bag full.
The reports came from plenty of different places, Rhyll, Long Point, Dickies Bay and below the bridge in Cleeland Bight and almost all of the reports said the change of tide, one to one-and-a-half hours before and after were the best times and not much outside those times.
Several gummies reported from those fishing the snapper areas with the best we had reported just over 1.3m.
Plenty of smaller ones and no shortage of those undersize with the better ones coming from after dark.
Offshore, we had reasonable flathead reports and while numbers were good, sizes were on the smaller end with plenty needed to be caught to find a feed of something to take home.
There is plenty of bait around at the moment, both offshore and in the bay and make sure you have a couple of lures with you. Salmon, yakkas, couta and silver whiting all reported this week.