With Jim’s Bait and Tackle

Leigh not only caught a few whiting but was the lucky winner of the major raffle of a helicopter flight.

George and Oli were very pleased with their catch.

Denver and his family are always great supporters of the Good Friday competition.

WELL, that’s Easter done and dusted for another year and the end of our sixth Good Friday appeal fishing competition.

We were uncertain what the competition would look like this year with the last two years very difficult for businesses (our sponsors). Thank you to everyone’s generosity; it was another huge success.

Firstly, our sponsors were quick to say yes and get involved. Some of our customers also sponsored prizes and entries just kept coming in. Our donation this year to the Royal Children’s Hospital was just over $3500 and our prize pool just under $15,000 from our sponsors.

There was anticipation all weekend with entrants waiting for the hourly texts to see if they had won a random entry prize, especially the major prize of a helicopter flight kindly donated by Phillip Island Helicopters.

When we started this competition, we wanted to make it as much a family weekend as we could and it’s great that it is working out that way. In total, we had just over 160 entries consisting of over 70 kids under 14, 55 of those under 11 and 40 of the 60 teams were families. Thank you to all involved and we are already planning for next year’s competition.

While the weather played its part for most of the weekend and school holidays, fishing was tough, and you needed to use all your luck to land on a decent bag. We did weigh a lot of fish for the comp, but everyone said it was hard going and plenty of patience was needed.

Reports before the weekend were good and maybe the boat traffic and the full moon had something to do with it.

We had more kingfish reported from in the bay, both size and undersized ones with the best method of catching them being a whole USA squid on a live bait rig, unweighted out behind the boat.

One big problem over the weekend was the weed in the bay as it just seemed to be everywhere. We are also starting to see a lot of cold-water species, many of which are not worth keeping.

We weighed more whiting than any other fish and if you took two of the biggest and four of the smallest out the other 30-odd were within about 25g of each other. They were all good, healthy fish and while no one managed an esky full, most managed a good feed.

Previous to the weekend, numbers were good but the size of the whiting wasn’t consistent and a mixture of very small, 28cm to a respectable 45cm. The area the whiting was caught was different as well with before the weekend the shallows the best and the most common areas no problem, but it changed over the weekend and it was some of the not so common areas that were the best, Reef Island to Leolia Shoal then Leolia Shoal to Coronet Bay, possibly hiding from the boat traffic.

With the calm conditions offshore, there were several boats heading out to look for a flathead or two and a decent gummy on the reefs around Kilcunda. Flathead weren’t too hard to find, quality or decent sized ones were. You could get a feed without too much trouble but the bag of tails at the end of the day wasn’t all that big; having said that, any size bag of flathead tails is worth it.

The flathead came from the places you would expect them to and around the 35m line.

There was also lots of draught boards starting to show up and the odd ray. Once the bay cools enough, they should move in, and the flathead fishing offshore will be easier without so much rubbish. Even the gummies offshore were quiet, and we only had a couple reported. We did have reports of some bigger ones lost at the boat and several seven gills caught.

Full moon, boat traffic, eastly winds, not so favourable tides, or just bad luck, not sure which one to blame but something turned to fish off over the weekend. I am sure things will turn and we will start to see some good bags of fish coming back soon. Coming into the colder, quieter, and darker months, we will start to wind back our shop hours and close our usual two days a week, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Shop hours will change after ANZAC weekend. For those who follow us on social media, we will also be starting up our online auctions again. These were a huge success during COVID, and we have been asked if we can continue them again.

When it was obvious we had to move shops, the nerves set in a little moving from what had been our home for many years. While in our planning, we thought it would be a positive thing – you just don’t know until it happens. The response to our move though has been overwhelming and reassuring that the decision was the right one. Now we need to build on the move and start to supply all of the needs of our customers.

We have made a few additions already, including our drinks and snacks fridge, we now have ice, the very popular photo wall is back, we have created space for our customers to walk around and we are able to carry more of each product. Also, after a bit of organising, we have finally got the coffee machine in and working.

We are already planning for next season but need input from those who matter – our customers. Are there some things we are missing? Drop us an email or come in store and let us know. We may have already thought of it and it’s on its way but just in case we haven’t tell us your thoughts.