Home' Afloat : AFLOAT August 2016 Contents Take monthly with water August 2016 59
with David Lockwood
Big Tuna Time
Find your mooring after dark, highlight an anchor position and
mark dangerous crab pots after dark for safety and security
Infused Pigment | Sunlight Charged | Vivid Glow for 8+ Hours
GLOW IN THE DARK MOORINGS & FENDERS
When I cut my tuna-fishing teeth, April and May were the
gun months on the 30-50 fathoms reefs like the Peak, Sir John
Young Banks, and around Montague Island. We’d put to sea in our
five-metre long tinnies and fibreglass fishing tubs, with a 27meg
radio and maybe a paper Lowrance depth sounder, anchor up,
then berley with a stream of pilchard or fish chunks to bring the
big tuna to our boats and baits.
Yellowfin from 70-100kg were taken with seasonal regularity,
sometimes alongside the breaking waves at Montague, often
within clear views of the emerging skyscrapers off Sydney. These
days, the big inshore yellowfin tuna have vanished, the fishery
has been wiped out, and you can sit all day at The Peak only
to be stripped of tackle by swarms of Chinaman leatherjackets
snipping your lines.
But the tuna fishing, well, the tuna fishing has actually
improved out of sight. The fishery has moved offshore, but thanks
to today’s better boats and more reliable outboard engines, the
affordability of fish-finding gadgetry and incredible electronic
fishing chips, and the shared knowledge via social media, you
can find the motherload of big tuna in a trailerboat off Sydney
and ports to the south.
Yellowfin tuna in the 70kg class are still bagged each season,
only the hot months seem to be running later and mid-winter,
June and July, are better than April and May. While the 100kg
yellowfin are a rarity, southern bluefin tuna or so-called barrels
of this calibre aren’t exactly rare.
Despite all the doom and gloom about bluefin stocks, the
citizen science from anglers is that the fishery has never been
better. If you know tuna, however, they aren’t a fish that hangs
around. Here one day, gone the next, you need to be in the inner
sanctum of intel to ensure you’re onto the fish. And you need safe
and agreeable weather in winter, too. That bit hasn’t changed.
But it is terrific to see the trailerboat brigade leading the tuna
chase. The mosquito fleet has the big advantage of mobility. Keen
anglers haven’t hesitated in hitching up and hitting the highway
for a weekend of big bluefin fishing off the NSW South Coast
before returning home with the spoils. Remember: one fish per
angler per day in NSW waters, which is a heck of a lot of sashimi.
HAIRTAIL ON THE HOOK
One weird fish is returning to its winter lair without fail each
year. It’s the serpent-like hairtail and boat fishers braving one of
the coldest winters in living memory have managed to pull some
beauties from Cowan Creek.
It’s extreme fishing out there in the dead of night with single-
digit temperatures, fog and dew, peering at the faint outline of
your rod tip, waiting for the discreet bumps and bites that signify
a hairtail take.
The long chrome fish hang vertically in the water column and
often grab a bait and swim towards the boat, resulting in a small
bite and then slack line. Other times they just sit on it with the
pilchard across their mouth like a dog with a bone.
Hooking hairtail is no mean feat, but once you do the fish erect
their fins for great purchase in the water and it’s like hooking a
brick wall. It’s a weird to-and-fro fight before the chrome monsters
arrive boat-side with a face full of fangs ready to take your finger.
Not to mention the pike eels.
If you squeeze your hairtail in a headlock behind the eyes it
will die quickly. In fact, out of the water, after a few failed attacks
on your shins, they are a pretty fragile fish. Some complain about
the bones and others reckon the chrome skin is bitter. I ’ve found
them delicious. Use a forkto remove the comb-like bone structure
from the top and bottom of your hairtail slab after pan cooking
in a little butter. After which you won’t remember the hardship.
If those two world-class fish don’t get your casting arm
twitching, August is the month for fat winter fish. The flesh is
oily, great eating, and in the clear water you can find a lot of
keen sight feeders.
Trevally are hot to trot, tailor and Aussie salmon are along
the beaches, while luderick are the prized catch on weed baits or
imitation flies. Try for John dory on live baits around the wrecks
and FADs, and jumbo calamari over the kelp beds.
Out wide, August heralds the start of the big kingfish runs
on the 12 Mile, The Peak, the deep reefs off Terrigal, Broken Bay
Wide, and so on. You need to jig and drop live baits in 30-60
The kingfish action can be so hot you’ll feel like you’ve been
at the gym for a day. Just beware the big westerlies in the month
of August. Despite apparent climate change, wind is a surety
this month. h
The OceanHunter Sportsfishing charter gang scored some big
southern bluefin tuna last month.
Links Archive AFLOAT July 2016 AFLOAT September 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page