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Guide to Fishing -- August
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The days are getting warmer by a degree, there's less rain on
average than July, and spring may even come early. But it's
in August that the water temperatures are likely to approach
their nadirs. And that puts a whole different slant on fishing and
the skill sets, tackle and target species.
Although a spate of balmy weather helped the game-fishing
fleet get more hooks in the water, it's mighty unusual to hear
that a dolphin fish was landed off Sydney in mid-July, that is
mid-winter, and that a bunch of bigger ones were taken earlier
in the month.
A game fisher with a lot of experience swears black and blue
he saw a free swimming black marlin in July off Sydney. Now
striped marlin are caught well into June and occasionally later,
but the black marlin is definitely a warm-water species.
Besides wondering what is going on, you have to ask the
question: are southern bluefin really critically endangered -- as
judged by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
-- because, without a shadow of a doubt, there have been more
of the mighty tuna jumping on anglers' hooks off Sydney than in
the numerous decades I've been putting pen to paper.
If citizen science is any indication, the southern bluefin is
staging a Lazarus-like comeback from the abyss. There have been
record catches and, more often, tag and releases, anywhere from
South Australia to Victoria and along the Eastern Seaboard to
Sydney this week.
The32ndannualCanberraYellowfin Tournament heldin mid-
May is always a tad early for southern bluefin, but last year fish
were taken for the first time. This year's tournament was won by
an 81.4kg yellowfin, the biggest weighed there for a number of
years, however, school-sized southern bluefin are now coming in.
The fishery between Jervis Bay and Sydney has been much
hotter for the southern bluefin tuna. Among those who scored
southern bluefin in July were Rod Finlay and crew from Broken
Bay Game Boat Murrifin. They broke their duck and scored a first
as indeed many anglers did.
Some of the fish are just huge, with southern bluefin tuna of
more than 100kg weighed in recent seasons. Fish from 50-80kg
seem to be almost run of the mill. It's a bit like that Foxtel show
Wicked Tuna. Yellowfin to 80kg have been keeping company with
Several factors are contributing to the impressive tuna
catches -- the ability of recreational anglers to fish 80-100km off
the coast, high-tech electronics and temperature-chart analysis
-- but rebounding stocks are surely part of it.
Back inshore, kingfish are jumping on live baits on the reefs
and August is traditionally (whatever that means) the time for
them on deep reefs like The 12 Mile. You might find some big
bonito as well, mako sharks and, down deep, long-finned perch
The 40-50 metre reefs are the places for mixed bags, with
trevally likely to be in plague proportions. Get your bait past
them and snapper will jump on, along with morwong, pigfish
and all the other tackle species. Winter drift fishing over the
gravel and sand produces top catches of flathead and, for some
reason, small mako sharks.
Aussie salmon schools and tailor are patrolling the beaches,
headlands and estuary mouths, while the wash fishing is great
for drummer, groper and bream using peeled prawn and bread
baits. Fish in close if the seasonal westerlies are blowing and,
proviso, there's no swell.
Inside the harbour, bays and estuaries in general are oodles
of luderick, leatherjackets and some decent squid. The clear
water means other sight feeders like John dory will be on the
prowl. Look for hairtail at night in Cowan Creek if you're brave.
A few small jewfish to 4kg are taken about now, too. Bream will
be about but perhaps in declining condition.
Survivor types can head west to the dams and tackle some
trout. The big challenge in August is the wind. Blustery westerlies
can shutdown the fishing and make offshore boating positively
dangerous. The only option is to tuck in under Sydney's cliffs to
escape the blow. Play it safe but catch a harvest this month. The
fish-oil levels in many species will be peaking in August.
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