Friday 14th March 2014

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

With warm currents moving south the big news this week is the red hot marlin bite off Jervis Bay. Pete Hodgkins, on Monday:



Hey mate here's a pic, we’re heading back in from The Kink now. We had an 8-5-3, blacks and a striped. It’s mental at the moment, had a double hook up before, got one to the boat.


So good! He flagged this might happen on the day before, Sunday:



Hey mate I missed a great day out there 2 day my workmate Mick (owner of Penetrator) had another cracker on marlin, lost a solid blue this morning 2 a fish trap on JB Kink then released this healthy striped! This is the boats third trip and it's raising fish every time the ol JB Lumo Dingo goin off ! It's pumpin down here with multiple strikes daily and some solid fish getting away.


Regular crewman Jay Kim fished there on Monday too:



I’m in Jervis Bay Andy! 4 from 5 marlin yesterday, will give you full report when I return on Thursday mate.


And that’s not the only hot southern news. Leo Miller had a memorable day off Tasmania:



Hi Andrew, made it to Mewstone, 16 SBT to 32kg (10 tagged, 2 released and 4 kept, 3 albacore, and one of the sbt pending junior state record of 30.2 on 10. This was the quietest I've seen the tuna there; at one stage we waited 30mins for a strike and only had one double all day. Good sbt at Eaglehawk to 40kg as close as 1km from the ramp.



Also a mate got a TL 3.7m broad bill up the coast on a drop line (ate one of the ray's bream he'd hooked) and there was a 310kg mako weighed last week.


‘Waited thirty minutes for a strike’, oh the humanity. Well done my friend and super grateful, for your regular updates. The other big news this week is the white hot mackerel bite happening off the NSW mid-north coast. There’s a cloud over that event but first of all let’s see the good news. Bob Penfold, at South-West Rocks:



Attached is a pic of Bill Quimby, Tucson Arizona with a spotted mackerel.  One of several we caught.  We used the jail boat ramp.  Did not like driving my Toyota through the surf every day to launch the boat but had to do it or risk the bar in the dark. I did notice one fisho using one of your downriggers catch a few spotties near us up at Grassy head.  Few boats caught any fish.  None on some days.


Thanks, Bob! Alan Goggin continues his summer run of success with both a big longtail and a nice MACK FROM THE YAK J:



Hey Andy check out 17.4kg longtail tuna from last Thursday and the Spanish Mackerel I picked up on Saturday morning. The tuna squeezed into the mackerel bag nicely and was in tip top condition after a mornings fishing. Gotta love chasing big fish from the kayak!



Mate you are on fire this season, don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow. Glad the chiller bag works so well for you too. Just south, and mention of Grassy Head brought mixed memories for me. 1976, just after the floods. Me, on the north east tip, fishing with Dad’s pride and joy, a homebuilt Sportex matched with a Seascape 621. Bait, a 2 –pound trevally, rigged on wire just under a balloon and positioned just where the white water fringe met the clean green. After an hour I was getting bored so, after carefully propping the rod butt in a crevice, went back to my kitbag for a Peter Stuyvesant and Passiona. At that point a big mack hit the trevally so hard the tip wrapped rod went flying into the water. Tried desperately to cast across it with a spin outfit but, no joy. Thirty minutes later one of the bream fishos yelled and pointed. 150 metres south the red balloon rose, skittered along the surface, then was yanked under again. I’ll never forget the look on Dad’s face when I told him what happened. Thirty years later I saw Al give Bud the same look of fatherly contempt on ‘Married, With Children.’



Which in a roundabout way explains why, though I’ve never been back to the place, I was pleased to hear of Les Palmer’s success:


Hi Andrew, this my first attempt to film solo with a Gopro Chest Cam and then upload to Youtube. The  fish in the clip is the first of five Spotties I caught today. I went up to Grassy Head using live Yakkas (because I couldn't catch any Slimeys at the bait grounds). I heard everyone on the radio whinging that "they didn't turn a reel", so, I must have either been in the right place at the right time, or I was doing something they weren't.  Same deal as last weeks Spanish; 7/0 Gamakatsu lead hook in the nose with a 4/0 Gammy stinger before the tail.  Every fish I caught was on the stinger. Anyway, have a look at the clip and see what you think. I had my boat stereo on so if you don't like the footage you can listen to Ray Hadley instead.


Mate, the day I tire of hearing braid whistle through the guides under load is the day they pop me into my cheap pine box. Sean Morgan onto them at SWR, but says it was time to try something new:



After flogging the spotted mackerel for several weeks, with the odd spanish thrown into the mix, we arrived at the spot (along with twenty or so other boats) to find the water green and cold. After dragging live baits around for an hour we decided to head out to find blue water, and hopefully more fish.



We hit a nearby structure to see if anything was about; in a turn of fortune I jigged four kingfish in 5 drifts. Not record breaking fish at around the 85cm mark, but fat, well-conditioned fish. Terry managed a 75cm jew on a butterflied pike just to add some variety.


Glad to see our jigs still working for you, Sean!  I’m heading to Scotts Head this month, so this warning very timely indeed:


Andy, not sure if you've seen this? Cheers, Jim



Bob P has more:


I heard that a pro fisho caught 40 Spanish (we lost a 20 pounder at the boat) in a net at Hat Head between 12 and 20 KG each.  Sent them to the markets but had them refused and dumped due to suspected of being contaminated with the Spanish fish disease that big Spanish get up north.  I do not know how to spell the name, sorry.


Thanks lads, I’ll be careful. Further north, and Brett Driver came home with some beautiful barra:



Hi Andy, sorry long time no send picture haha. Went to the Cause Way the other day for the first time in over 3 years to chase barra's proper. An early morning run through with high humidity - saw one of the old timers land a 65 pretty quick on a scorpion lure red and white colour. After a bit of thought and many throws of the new bombers and reedies lures I went back to the old nilsmaster invincible in pink. I dropped two in the first hour of the run and bought home this nice pair enough to pay for the chips hahaha. 6 & 12kg


Beautiful. Well done champ and please keep these top reports coming.

To boats, and Mick Tait is selling his pride and joy – which kind of surprises me:



2006 Stabicraft 759SC Supercab Purchased as a new boat in July 2008.

Twin 150hp Evinrude E-Tec fitted new in March 2011 under a 5-year warranty. Approx 220hrs on these engines. 2 years warranty left.  Garmin 4012 Chart Plotter with Sounder, Radar, GPS and Autopilot.

Electric Anchor Winch with Sarca #3 and 100m of chain. Electric Chain Counter.

Poly fresh water tank, pump, 12v/240v hot water, sink. 27mhz and VHF radios.

2x 1000CCA main batteries and 2x house batteries charged from aux charge from Etec engine. $135000


Good luck, Mick. I’ve been posting sounder interpretations on our Facebook page and receiving a lot of interest from readers. Not an original idea – rather, inspired by John Adam’s excellent new book ‘How To Use an Echo Sounder/ Fish Finder.’ More on that next week. Here’s a sample:



This image is taken at Twelve Mile Reef, being that distance east of Sydney Heads. The pic shows the importance of tuning the colour palette on your sounder. Like many other deeper reefs, Twelve Mile has a problem with leatherjacket infestations at times. There are all sorts of old wives tales about, saying they will bite at shiny swivels and brass rings, or the white mark between colour change braid, or where the line has been touched by bait scented hands. Take it from a bloke who has fished this spot hundreds of times – they will bite at anything.



But there is one way to, if not defeat them, then to substantially reduce tackle losses. That is, by tuning your sounder so it can discriminate between fish species. On a Lowrance, select a palette which gives you rich, ochre type reds and yellows. Adjust gain a little stronger than shown here to maximise returns. In the case of this image, I had the gain backed off, because a short time previously the sounder on another fishos boat was interfering with ours. When that happens you will register vertical broken dark lines from the top, to the bottom, of your screen. When it all comes together small fish on the bottom - like pinkie snapper, juvenile morwong and nannygai - show as red. Large kingfish will show mid water, often around 80 metres deep as irregularly shaped blue blobs. The blobs are their air chamber. But most importantly, the leatherjackets will appear as schools and show as yellow on your screen. When that happens, instantly notify the crew to wind their jigs up fast. We now do this as soon as any yellow appears in the mid-water, on the right hand side of the screen. That’s saved us a lot of money. As to kingfish, on one memorable morning we spotted six blue blobs around 75-80m deep, some 150metres south of the main hump. Four fishos aboard, and four jigs sent down. Result, four out of the six kingfish boated.



I spent the weekend visiting relatives at Collarenebri – out of range of both phone, and Internet. But as we came back into cell range near Moree, the mobile loaded up with top reports. Brett Le Piastre found tropical species riding the EAC:



Cubing for kings in the Harbour and in through the berley trail comes a Rainbow Runner!


Blimey. Power up and head straight for Number 10 Ribbon, Brett! Swim it off the downrigger there. Luke Latty scored one too:



Hey Andy had a good morning out on the water yesterday. We headed out for marlin with no luck but got a heap of fat striped tuna, keeper mahi and surprisingly this rainbow runner.


So close to kingfish in appearance, Luke! And yet in habits, so far away. Typically generous of Jay Barker to take his Tokyo mate out for a run. Check the smile on the bloke. That’s the joy you get from this fantastic sport we all love:



Andy, I took a mate and my Japanese seabass guide out to the Newcastle FAD yesterday afternoon and we had it all to ourselves. Conditions were a little unsettling but definitely worth the run out. Dollies were thick and were hitting everything we threw at them. Livies (went through 20 in 15 minutes), poppers, stickbaits and even jigs all proved deadly. Most fish caught were just over legal size, biggest was 67cm so nothing of great size but still a whole lot of fun and loads of fillets for the family.


To politics, and NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson has surrendered all pretence of defending our sport by selling out completely to the greenies. She’s announced her intent to bring in an 80%+ cut to the bag limits for Southern Bluefin Tuna – not based on catch statistics, biomass, stock levels, or rec fishing abuses. But simply, because that’s what international greenies want. Here’s the story.



Bluefin tuna numbers are exploding since foreign longliners were kicked out of the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ.) Our clients send in pics and reports starting in west SA early January then across the Bight to Kangaroo Island. On to western Vic and Tasmania then up the NSW south coast in early winter. Their greatest defence from rec angler overfishing is that they range wide of the Continental Shelf and winter weather means only the occasional calm permits trailerboat access that far east. But when it all comes together, the fishing is unforgettable.



Check this video, thousands of SBT swimming off Sydney in July last year:



But now NSW Fisheries Minister Katrina ‘Bodgy Hodgy’ Hodgkinson has announced a massive cut to the bluefin bag limit:



While at the same time, the commercial quota of bluefin has been increased by more than 50%:



Stan K sent a link proving Bodgy’s plan to slash the rec take of bluefin tuna conflicts with the advice of ACORF:



Which proves that Bodgy not only overrides anglers’wishes, she ignores the recommendations of her own advisory council. Grant Bennett observes:


It is quite preposterous given the key facts noted above to, on the one hand, ask recreational fishers to accept an 85% reduction in their daily bag limits even though the impact statement recognises that traditionally, recreational fishing has had virtually no impact on SBT stocks, while at the same time commercial fishers, which are listed as THE KEY THREAT to SBT sustainability, have their TAC’s increased by 32% (or 3000mt) over 4 years!


Exactly, Grant. Let’s recap.


SBT numbers are growing exponentially. Because their territory is so far offshore most boats – certainly, trailer boats – wait weeks for a weather window, to access them. And when that happens, peer group pressure and the fact that so often multiple boats attend a hot bite means there’s no rec abuse of the fishery anyway. Why is Minister Bodgy slashing the recreational take so savagely? Here’s a hint:



Yep. It’s what the Pew Environment Group wants. The same bunch who lobbied Garrett to ban fishing for mako sharks. The same ratbags who provided the funding for the political push that secured the massive commonwealth marine park lockup, under federal Labor. It all fits. Until next week my friends, please keep the pics and reports coming in. It’s so wrong that I get the gratitude for all you do, but keep it coming because so many fishos enjoy reading about your adventures. Cheers,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director