Cracking season for unusual fishing

A COUPLE of weeks ago concreter Andrew ‘‘Red’’ Thompson made the rock-solid prediction we were in for a ‘‘freakish’’ season.

On January 14 Red said in this column: ‘‘If ever there was a chance, it’s this year. I think we’ll see some strange fish – mackerel and the like.

‘‘All this big water out of Iluka and Yamba will push everything down.

‘‘The amount of warm current, plus the big flood season – I reckon we’re in for a freakish season off Port Stephens until at least Easter.’’

Well, Red, or should we call him Nostradamus, has since been vindicated.

Last week we noted the numbers of semi-exotic, warm-water-loving wahoo, dolphin and sailfish being caught off local waters.

And this week comes the tale of mild-mannered ‘‘Uppin’’ Adam Bartholomew and his kayak-fishing capers with spanish mackerel off Newcastle.

A delivery driver for Kelly Holden while on land, Uppin’s preferred mode of transport when fishing is the kayak, which he has fitted with an outrigger, sounder and transducer.

Usually he likes to fish Moon Island, but last Saturday at first light he set up a couple of hundred metres off Newcastle.

‘‘Soon as sun-up the Halco poppers he was throwing for kingies got smashed by Spanish mackerel,’’ Red reported yesterday.

‘‘He ended up catching 12. He found these little patches of water where the water temp was up over 26 degrees.

‘‘Every time he cranked the popper, three or four mackerel would come up and smash it.

‘‘They weren’t that big – 6kg to 8kg – but for a guy in a boat with no motor on the back of it, not a bad effort.

‘‘I said it wouldn’t surprise me to find Spanish mackerel down this way this year, but I didn’t expect it so soon, and I didn’t expect them to be caught by a guy in a kayak.

‘‘You just need to find the warm patches to find the fish.’’

Big time fishing

It’s a thought worth considering as the first of the local game-fishing tournaments for the year, the Big Fish Bonanza, kicks off out of Lake Macquarie this weekend.

The Big Fish will run over Saturday and Sunday, with action getting under way both days at 7am and concluding at 5.10pm.

Late January-February is a busy time for game fishing in the area, with a cavalcade of offshore events including the Big Fish Bonanza on the lake, and the Luhrs Billfish Shootout, Australian International Billfish Tournament and 2011 NSW Interclub tournament up at Port Stephens.

Current prices

Red is a huge fan of website, which enables him to track water currents in almost real time. ‘‘For $200 a year you can get on as much as you like, you can put GPS marks on it, you can zoom in and out anywhere, it shows surface temp, algae blooms,’’ he enthused. ‘‘They have six satellites shooting pics, so in an average day you get eight to 12 shots showing you what the current is doing – it’s pretty much like reading a book on the current.

‘‘It’s brilliant if you’re spending $200 a day on fuel and all the other stuff on a day’s fishing out wide. You know exactly where the current is.’’

Cobia concourse

Red’s spies report there’s been a lot of cobia caught up at South West Rocks this week, and he’s boldly predicting again that we’ll see them down here too.

‘‘I’ve got a mate whose mate’s been out every day in his tinnie up there in not much more than 20metres of water and getting cobia every time,’’ Red said.

‘‘It’s not unusual to see them make a run each summer, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some down here soon. I heard there was a big one caught in Lake Macquarie this week.’’

Cobia like to hang out with things like manta rays and whale sharks, feeding at the back of them on whatever these things stir up.

Red said his mate up at SW Rocks had noticed a big manta ray and started flicking livies off the back of it, and the cobes (he reckons there was at least a dozen of them) started peeling off for a bite.

Meanwhile, Red was fishing down south of Swansea this week and reports big shoals of yellowtail balling up.

He managed to catch a couple of 4kg trag.

Hard to ignore

Belmont resident Ian Macrae got the shock of his life this week when a three-metre hammerhead shark called by to inspect his boat as he fished for whiting in Belmont Bay.

‘‘It circled the boat twice,’’ Ian said. ‘‘About an hour later I found it sunbaking a couple of hundred metres away from the first place I saw it.

‘‘I’ve been fishing the lake for over 50 years and I’ve never seen a shark that big.’’ The shark knew a good fisherman when he saw one – Ian ended up with 16 trumpeter whiting during his session.

Tasty bonanza

There’s a few jew on the chew in local waters.

Young Beau Twyford, 10, of Swansea, got two jew, both 4kg, in the space of 10minutes working Lake Macquarie with his uncles last Monday.

Garry Rockley, of Aberdare, landed a 23kg mulloway off Newcastle this week.

Cardiff angler Tim Payne inflicted a bit of his own on bream last weekend, landing a PB 40cm fish off Summerland Point.

Nine-year-old Lachlan Mills hooked his first-ever flathead, a 53cm specimen, last weekend in the lake.

Not to be outdone, Zac Power, three years and seven months old, hooked a 71cm lizard at Swansea jetty. On the same weekend, Kurri Kurri fisho Jordan Miller got a handy 67cm yellowtail kingfish in the lake.

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