Marlin bite excites

FISH OF THE WEEK: Finlay Taaffe wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this beautiful whiting hooked in Swansea channel last week.
FISH OF THE WEEK: Finlay Taaffe wins the Jarvis Walker tacklebox and Tsunami lure pack for this beautiful whiting hooked in Swansea channel last week.

Fishing has been spectacular off Nelson Bay this week with a great marlin bite over the Shelf.

Brent “Hammer” Hancock, from Tackle World Port Stephens reports a mixture of blues and stripes teased, tagged and talked about coming straight out the front of the bay on the shelf.

“This time of year it’s not unheard of, but it’s been like a January or February style bite,” he said. 

“Plenty of boats catching them.

“Steel Lambert got seven bites and caught three during the week.

“The boys on White Dog, Josh Sowter got six bit and caught two over the weekend and then caught three on Tuesday.

“Also Tuesday, the crew on Glaucus went four from five, three stripes and one blue.

“And I heard reports of fish caught on Wednesday.”

Intel from out wide suggests water temps up aorund 24 degrees, not much current and plenty of bait fish.

“It all depends on the weather, whether you can get out there and into it,” Hammer said.

“Looking at forecast, there’s supposed to be stiff nor-easters on Friday and Saturday, but there could be window on the Sunday.

“As long as the current doesn’t run hard like it did like the last two years, the fish should hang around.

“But you can’t predict it this early into the season. Whether it’s a false dawn or the dawning of a super season, you can’t say, but we’ll take it.”

Pretty fly

Hammer is just back from his annual foray up to Fraser Island where this year he helped his 10-year-old daughter Lilly catch her first ever black marlin.

“There were plenty about and you didn’t have to go far offshore to find them.

“We saw juveniles swimming around in less than three metres of water.

“Along with a whole range of other species like long-tail tuna, tiger sharks and manta rays.

“It’s a special place.”

Hammer likes to tease up the marlin to the back of his boat and throw flies at them. 

“It’s a fun way to fish for marlin and you get a lot of bycatch with things like spotted mackerel and lots of tuna.

“The amount of blacks up there is hopefully a good sign of what makes its way down to our waters next year.” 

Cool running

Back in local waters and contray to the hot bite out wide, it’s been a bit  of a different story inshore

Typical of the prevailing nor east wind pattern, the water has gone cold, shutting down the fish a bit.

“It’s been a bit tough on the snapper fishing,’’ Hammer said.

“Reds have still been turning up but more often in the shallows – 10-20m range of water depth.

“Even though it’s cold, there’s been a few nice kingies caught too, up to 16kg. You’ve got to work for them but they have been there.”

Moon talk

There’s plenty of school jew about and with the full moon due next Monday and evening high tides scheduled, it will be well worth a shot in the bay, lake  and along the beaches, if it’s not too blowy.

“Early morning just before the wind comes up is also a good time to target jew, just on the tide change,” Hammer said.

Inside the estuaries are fishing well for flathead, with some great fish about.

Whiting are going well on the beaches and shallows.

Studious type

Congratulations to Joshua van Lier, from Australian National University, who took out the 2017 John Holliday Student Conservation Award at an event held at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute last Friday.

Joshua   won the award for his paper titled ‘Importance of soft canopy structure for labrid fish communities in estuarine mesohabitats’.

Dry as it might sound,   this kind of research is crucial to informing decisions on  aquatic habitat and fish conservation issues. And I could think of worse environments in which to study.

The award is open to post-graduate students who are enrolled at Australian universities and undertaking fisheries-orientated research in NSW.

 The award will be available again in 2018. Joshua’s research earned him a $3000 cash prize.

For more information or to view previous applications, visit the DPI website.

Cod forbid

The Murray cod season opens today Friday, December 1, following the annual three month breeding closure.

The country’s largest freshwater fish is found in the   Murray-Darling River system and is a prized catch for many intrepid Hunter anglers.

The three-month ban is implemented each year in all inland waters other than Copeton Dam to protect the species during breeding season.

DPI re-stocked over 920,000 fish   last year and similar numbers of Murray cod are planned for release this season. 

A daily bag limit of two Murray cod per person per day and a total possession limit of four applies when fishing in any inland waters.