A full moon and benign weather conditions offer anglers the tantalising prospect of a night assault this weekend.
Jew fishos will fancy their chances in local estuaries and you might even find some game fishing types tempted to fish outside overnight.
Last Friday Lake Macquarie Game Fishing Club member Gary Hoff fished way wide of the shelf and found yellowfin tuna.
“Screaming Hoff got two fish, one 28kg on 10kg line and another 41kg on 15kg plus a couple of albacore,” LMGFC weigh master Neil Grieves reported.
“Other boats fishing further south of the Canyons got similar results bu there was no sign of bluefin which is a bit disappointment after the run we’ve been having.”
Nine LMGFC boats fished the long weekend with little success.
“A 185kg mako was weighed mid week,” Neil said. “And there was unconfirmed rumours another member tagged two striped marlin.”
“It’s been a slow start to the game fishing season thus far.
“I think the water is still fairly cold.
“The best I’ve heard has been around 20.4 degrees right on the shelf.
“Gary [Hoff] went a long way out to find temperature breaks but interestingly when he did, he found yellowfin in it.”
Terrace fisho Steele Lambert also got a couple up to 40kg off Norah Canyon, according to Paul “Ringo” Lennon, from Tackle World Port Stephens.
Ringo reports plenty of snapper about closer to shore.
“Daniel Thrift got a couple fishing the deeper water off Broughton in 50 or 60 metres of water.
“Daniel Delaney got some nice reds up to 5kg fishing Edith Breakers midweek.”
Inside the bay, Ringo said a lot of flathead are starting to show up, with fish up to 80cm caught and released.
“There’s plenty of bream still around and it shouldn’t be long before they start biting on the surface if the warm weather keeps up,” Ringo said.
“Rusty Hyland got two jew on Thursday around the 10kg mark using live baits in deeper water around Soldiers Point.
“Blue swimmers and plenty of muddies are starting to get active as the back reaches start to wake up from winter.
“The whiting have been good early on the beaches and same inside the estuaries and we’ve seen the odd little kingie chasing squid around the rockwalls.”
It’s not glamorous, it’s not sexy, but Fish of the Week winner Tim Meadows was pretty impressed with his shovelnose shark caught off Stockton beach last week.
”It was the biggest fish I have caught,” he explained.
“I was fishing on Stockton beach after lunch when my reel span out and about 15/20 minutes later I landed what I was told is a shovelnose ray.
“I was also told they are related to the shark, so I'm not to sure what kind it is. If someone can let me know I would be thankful.”
Ray of light
Eager to assist Tim in his quest for knowledge I gave Dr Julian Pepperell, distinguished Australian marine biologist, a quick call.
“It depends where the gills are,” was Julian’s opening response.
“If they’re In front of the pectoral fins, it’s a shark
“If they the pectoral fins start in front of the gills it’s a ray.
“Interesting thing about shovel nose sharks is that working out what they are is not a new problem.
“The Europeans in the First Fleet found themselves catching shovel nose sharks too, and just like everything else about this new land – kangaroos, koalas etc – it seemed even the sharks were weird too.
“The English were much more familiar with skate fish which are more ray-like at the back, whereas the shovel nose shark is very shark-like at the back end.”
Anyhow Tim, it turns out the official name for your fish is a shovelnose ray.
They are part of the Guitar ray group, so called because when you hold them in your arms, as you are doing in your magnificent Fish of the Week photo, they look like a guitar.
There are also Fddler rays and Banjo rays which are more rounded. Together they make up one hell of a bluegrass band of species.
“There is even an animal called the shark ray which is much larger, but I think this fish that Tim has caught is a shovelnosed shark.
“The textbooks only call them rays to avoid confusion, which I’m not sure has been achieved.”
Julian has written a book due out next year called Fishing For The Past documenting the first explorers and mariners who first went fishing around Australia
“I’ve tried to tease out what they caught, and how abundant the fish were – whether you could walk on the backs and all that,” he said.
“It’s been very interesting. Sounds like there wasn’t always abundance.”