With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

IF YOU were driving along the coast during the week looking out to sea you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at the corals in the middle of snapper season.

Unfortunately, there is a new condition and it’s proven to be 10x more contagious than anything else going around (not scientifically proven) and it’s called tuna fever. Those that have dreamed of catching a tuna are out chasing them, the seasoned whiting fishermen are chasing them, the amateur who specialises in toadies is chasing them, and there is no denying they are all catching them.

The tuna are that hungry and aggressive they are taking nearly everything; we look at the shelves and, compared to last year, all of it is going. Last year we couldn’t keep enough of the 4” skirts on the wall because it was the favoured lure, but this time it’s everything: 8” skirts, poppers, feathers, teasers, you name it.

The tuna this last week have been that close the guys on the beaches could simply reach out and grab them. Those who have been in store this past week have begun to think we are living in the clouds, especially when we tell them where the reports have been coming from. We are getting reports from everywhere, in Cleeland Bight, shallow off Punch Bowl, Kilcunda, Coal Point and out wide as well and land-based off Foots.

The tuna are everywhere, and they are creating a mass excitement that has been missing from the fishing community for a while. It’s good to see the customers come in absolutely hanging to get the boats in the water, putting aside all that is going on for a few hours and being mentally positive for a while. It is much-needed among a number of our customers.

While giving you the exact spot to go can be difficult, although they are staying around certain areas at the moment, one piece of advice we can give is don’t get too fixated on what someone else caught their own. We have had at a guess, 200 people in over the last couple of weeks telling us they must have a particular type, colour, or brand of lure because they are the only ones that work.

Like the stories we get with the squid jigs, everyone tells us something different and at the end of the day the most important thing you can do is have a lure in the water. A variety always helps but don’t forget to use that variety if something isn’t working and if nothing works it could just be as simple as the fish you are on aren’t hungry, keep going and find another patch.

Obviously, the tuna isn’t for everyone and not everybody has a boat so there are still some fishing back in the bay and on the jetties. The reports in the bay have been a little slow with all the eastly we have had, not the best wind for boating in Western Port. Those that have managed to fish the windows we have had found it hard going at times and need to do a bit of searching to find them.

We haven’t seen a lot of snapper of late and the very small piranha pinkies are prolific, but keep persisting and find the right area and there are some very good pan-sized ones. The best of the pinkie reports have come from off Rhyll towards Long Point, Ram Island. There have been some quality bags of whiting come from the same area with the deep – about 12m producing the best of the fish.

The shallow water for whiting seems to have too much boat traffic and while fish are still being caught, they are on the smaller side. Calamari have been good without really standing out and if you go searching, you won’t have too many problems finding a feed or a supply of bait.

The jetties have produced a few fish for the visitors, and all have fired at some point over the last month. By far, the most fish caught have been mackerel and have been found on all of the jetties and easily caught with a bait jig. As is the way with land-based fishing, you could catch anything and that’s how the reports have been.

We have seen some quality flathead, a handful of whiting, one or two snapper and a few undersized gummies and plenty of smaller salmon. There have been a couple of reports of garfish around the jetty of an evening but no one there at the time with the right gear to catch them.

The rest of the boating reports were made up with some quality garfish and plenty of them, the odd size gummy in the bay but some quality offshore. Those not after tuna have chased a king or two and while you will lose far more than you catch with these fish, we had a handful of quality reports. Flathead have also been very good offshore, and you will need to put a little time into finding them when you do there are plenty of 45cm to 50cm tigers around; start in around 30m but be prepared to travel as far out as 50m to find them.

We have been a little overwhelmed and very appreciative by the comments and support since we announced we were moving. The comments haven’t all come from fishermen or customers, but they have been very positive and supportive of the move.

We have had dozens of offers of assistance to help move and we will certainly yell out if we need help. The move, although not far, is a little complicated in that it’s not just a pack it into boxes and deliver it to the new store. We are trying to work it out so as we are only closed for the minimum amount of time possible.

The fit-out is finished, the storeroom shelving is in, and Mel is now spending time setting out the layout in the shop and on the walls which is the time-consuming part but important to get it right.

After Australia Day, things will slow down a little in the shop and we will have more time to start moving all the storeroom stock which will put us on target; we will close Marine Parade at 4pm on Sunday, February 13, and re-open in Back Beach Road, when the plastic will come down, on February 16, with limited stock but then fully open on Saturday, February 19.