Home' Afloat : AFLOAT August 2014 Contents 58 AFLOAT.com.au August 2014
with David Lockwood
A JIG OF THE FISHY KIND
There’s Father O’Flynn, Out on the Ocean, Saddle the Pony, Gerry’s
Beaver Hat and Humours of Glendart. But the jigs we’re harping on
about today aren’t the Irish kind. We’re going for a winter jig and a
deep-water workout with Sydney’s brawling kingfish.
Jigging the deep reefs is nothing new, mind you. Our fishing
forefathers did it with imported American-made Penn reels, stout
hand-wrapped fibreglass rods, leather rod buckets to save their
wedding tackle, and lures like the Iron Henchman, Executioner,
Assassin and Coffin.
But as with most thing in life, the evolution of jigging has gathered
pace to become a veritable fishing revolution. With modern tackle,
just about anyone can now jig the depths and dance to the tune of
The clumsy outfits that put as much hurt on the angler as the
quarry have been replaced with agreeable high-tech carbon rods,
finely engineered reels, low-stretch braided lines and knife jigs that
make reaching the deep reefs an easy drop.
Furthermore, this is a timely column because jigging hits its
seasonal highs in winter and autumn off Sydney. Schools of kingfish
can be found on Sydney’s deep reefs right now. Pinpoint them with
your depth sounder, position the boat, drop a lure in front of their
waiting maw and do the jig with an attention-grabbing retrieve.
Local Sydney guides have been zooming to The Peak, 12 Mile,
and reefs like Long Reef Wide, Esmeralda and those in the 100 metre
depths off Broken Bay to tangle with plenty of winter kings this past
month. Jigging expert and charter guide Scott Thorrington has been
scoring plenty off Terrigal, too.
The run thus far hasn’t seen too many exceptional specimens,
but there are good numbers of 70-80cm fish in keeping with the
usual winter bite. The legal length is 65cm and, remember, there’s
a bag limit of five fish per angler.
You’ll score a few big bonito mixed in with the kingfish, while
those using live bait intended for a Sydney king will also find August
is a great month for John dory. Try the Sydney artificial reef off South
Head, where fisheries authorities monitoring the site reckon it’s
something of a dory hotspot. Yum!
SWORDFISH IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Degraded, unproductive and overexploited. The report card for
many of the world’s oceans is a massive fail. But here in Australia,
there are still undiscovered, untapped riches and, as recent catches
of Tasmania’s East Coast attest, scope to develop new world-class
Everyone with a hankering for offshore fishing has been going
gaga over the broadbill swordfish catches by adventurous anglers
off Tasmania. The local crew on Choonachasa is reaping the rewards
for its fieldwork, with several broadbill landed this year including a
141.7kg fish and a 136.2kg specimen on 24kg tackle.
But the biggest news was reser ved for the estimated 180kg
swordfish they set free. The fish swum away sporting a satellite tag.
Subsequent tracking reveals the fish probably didn’t make it after
the two-hour fight on 37kg tackle. But all is not lost.
The local Tassie swordfish fishery will survive and it’s making
international fishing headlines. That you can do it in a trailerboat
adds to the potential for mainland sportsfishers. Ship your boat
across on the ferry and give it a crack. The southern bluefin tuna
worth the trip alone.
Of course, there’s always a chance of catching a broadbill
swordfish even off hard-fished cities like Sydney. Although it was a
pup, Sydney Game Fishing Club recently weighed a 17.5kg broadbill
swordfish caught by Reel Smart at night on Browns Mountain this
winter. Fishing identity Paul Worsteling from IFISH also set a broady
free while fishing off Exmouth, WA .
FISH AVOID CERTAIN LURES
The University of Florida’s Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences has
confirmed what anglers have suspected all along. Yep, fish wise-up
and learn to avoid certain lures. Time to refresh your tackle box.
The research team was inspired by the irrepressible lure industry
and all its wild claims, plus the lack of hard data on fish that avoid
lures. Previous research had shown some fish are harder to fool than
others. So it headed to a private lake stocked with bass.
The boffins zapped the lake and performed a headcount of an
estimated 347 bass more than 25cm in length. Next, two anglers
fished the lake three days a week for four weeks, one using a chrome-
and-black bibless rattle-style hard-body lure, the other a soft-plastic
stickbait in plum colour with a silver fleck.
Both lures were fished on identical tackle, using 10kg braided
line with fluorocarbon leaders, and the anglers swapped rods on
the hour for six hours each fishing day.
A total of 260 bass were caught, electronically tagged and released,
representing 75 per cent of estimated population and leaving 25 per
cent of the fish that couldn’t be tempted.
The telling thing was that the bass learned to avoid recapture,
especially on the bibles hard-body lure with rattle as opposed to
the soft plastic lure. But in both cases, the majority of previously
caught fish wised up to the lures and refused to bite.
Now this won’t come as a surprise to seasoned anglers in hard-
fished waterways. But for the average chuck’n’hoper the take-home
message is clear – change your lures, your techniques, mix your
retrieve, stagger your depths, try new stuff and keep it fresh to fool
the fish. h
180kg broadbill swordfish release in Tasmania.
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