Fishing with John Curtis - 18/03/2017
With salmon season fast approaching and many metropolitan based anglers heading to the south west and south coast to catch their trophy fish, safety is of prime concern whilst fishing. Many anglers get into trouble by not being aware of their surroundings and when a hot bite is on, common sense goes out the window. Slippery rocks, covered by black algae are a disaster when wet and it doesn't have to be sea spray to cause it to be exceptionally slippery, just a heavy dew or sea mist will cause it.
Inadequate footwear is another problem for unprepared anglers. Thongs are fine for around the home and in the shower. They are a disaster on the rocks and will lead to slips, trips and falls. Inadequate or inappropriate clothing is another problem. Heavy clothing restricts casting ability and makes for uncomfortable fishing and is a disaster if you end up in the water.. Light weight wind proof clothing is the best bet and if conditions are really cool then a wet suit is useful.
The best way to stay safe when rock fishing is to keep the sand between your toes. Don't go onto the rocks. No fish is worth your life. Many tourists see people catching large fish at a local fishing hole and then go back into town and buy a cheap outfit and some bait and go back to the spot to catch a fish, inadequately prepared. When they can't reach the schools from the beach, they go onto the rocks, where they end up in the water and become a statistic. It is not always tourists or visitors either who get caught out. Often it is locals who have fished the area many times. It only takes a little inattention and there is a situation where you end up as an item on the 6 o'clock nightly news and nobody wants that.
If you are going to fish from the rocks then you need to wear a life jacket. No, you are not a wimp, you are smart and are likely to come back alive and a little wiser if you go in.
Recfishwest have been promoting the use of life jackets when fishing and I support them 100% They have jackets for sale through the FishandSurvive web site at https://www.fishandsurvive.com.au/ There are FREE life jackets available for loan from Recfishwest through many tackle stores along the south and south-west coast - USE THEM!
As a post script to this several anglers report catches of BIG salmon just offshore from Rockingham and Safety Bay and areas to the south. These fish are BIG and HUNGRY and it would appear that we are in for a season similar to the one we had last year. Remember to comply with bag and size limits and report any noncompliance to the FISHWATCH.
Last Friday was St Patrick's Day and I forgot to mention it in the column last week, but as is usual for those who anglers who are of Irish extraction, and all anglers out there, an Irish blessing specifically for you;
May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.
Recfishwest Welcomes New Fisheries Minister
Recfishwest welcome the appointment of the Hon. Dave Kelly as the new Minister for Fisheries. Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said Mr Kelly was a very active Shadow Minster and has always made an effort to understand the issues related to the Fisheries portfolio. "The Minister has shown a consistent and genuine interest in fisheries issues over the last four years and he will no doubt hit the ground running"
"In opposition the Minister has always been a strong supporter of recreational fishing which was never more evident than in 2015 when he and Premier McGowan stood shoulder to shoulder with Recfishwest to overturn a significant funding reduction proposed to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund."
Over the last four years Minister Kelly has regularly contributed to parliamentary debate on a variety of fishing topics including research, fisheries management, shark mitigation, and marine parks and fisheries infringements. Minister Kelly was also instrumental in ensuring the new fisheries legislation passed through parliament in 2016.
"Without Minister Kelly's support and close scrutiny of the Aquatic Resources Management Act recreational fishers would not have any legal recognition of their rights to access the community owned fish resources of Western Australia. " Dr Rowland said
In addition to being very active in the parliament, Minister Kelly has also always found the time to attend and support fisheries events. Earlier this month the Minister attended Recfishwest's Snapper Guardian fish release where he promised a Labor government would give Cockburn Sound the care and attention it deserves.
Dr Rowland said that Recfishwest look forward to building on the positive partnership we have developed with the new Minister. "We will work hard to assist the new Government deliver their recreational fishing election commitments and I have no doubt that Minister Kelly and the Government will continue to be great supporters of recreational fishing."
Recfishwest's commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.
Monday is the autumn equinox, where day and night are the same length. This is at least one positive indicator that cooler weather is on the way. However ocean water temperatures have remained a little above normal and we are still finding plenty of northern pelagic species frequenting the metropolitan area. There have been reports of longtail tuna being caught in the northern end of Cockburn Sound and even reports of them feeding on scaly mackerel in Fremantle Harbour. They have also been taken from the Woodman's Point Ammunition Jetty.
Over the next few weeks the weather will become a little milder and winds will ease a little, making it more comfortable to fish. Early mornings are a little fresher but the fish seem more accommodating and anglers can expect to make some good catches. Small sharks tend to dominate the beaches after hours as they look for a feed in the gutters and holes along the beaches. Sizes will vary from 60 cm through to 2 m, and will give a bit of an adrenalin rush to the angler hooking them.
Tailor will still feature amongst catches around dawn and dusk, particularly when there is a bit of a chop on the water. They like to be able to hide in this white water as they hunt food, sheltering in the shallow water trying to evade predators. Anglers who are able to read the beach and locate structures such as gutters and holes or sandbars will do a lot better than those who just walk onto the beach and cast a line at random.
Small boat anglers who want to chase snapper can use this calmer weather to their advantage and fish the inshore waters after dark for a few hours and take some good fish. Many of the inshore locations, such as areas along the back of the Five Fathom Bank or behind the Three Mile reef system, consistently produce good snapper regularly. If you anchor and berley up and use either baits such as mulies, squid or fish fillets, or use soft plastics you will get fish. There are some tactics that are very successful for catching snapper in this way and I'll write a piece on how to do it in the near future.
Temperatures are still a little high in metropolitan waters, however there has been some cooling down of these coastal waters over the last few weeks. Hopefully we can have it come back down to sensible levels and then it will become cool enough to have some salmon appear in the metropolitan area a little later in the year. We can only hope, but at current temperatures they are not likely to appear. There have been reports of a few fish being seen south of Mandurah, and there have been several smaller fish caught at mainly south metropolitan locations. There have been some very good fish taken on the south coast from locations around Esperance across to Denmark. Kayakers have taken some good fish around Busselton and one report indicates fish of 60 - 65 cm being taken by them.
Anglers are still taking pelagic species such as mackerel, bonito and tuna from both shore based locations and from the area north-west of Rottnest Island. There are also reports of tuna coming from the Duffield Ridge area on the southern side of the island. They have also been taken along the back the Five Fathom Bank and behind the Three Mile Reef system in the northern suburbs. Some excellent fish have been captured with mackerel up to 22 kg being reported along with some excellent tuna.
Start thinking positively about planning for winter fishing, the days may be shorter and it gets a little chilly around the ears but the fishing can be outstanding. Forget the football and get out and go fishing. You won't regret it.
Don't forget that it's school holidays in a few weeks' time and there will be a lot of kids at a loose end during this period. With modern technology keeping them indoors glued to a screen of some form, they are missing out on some great recreational activity.
If you have some fishing information, have caught a good fish and want to brag, or have an item that may be of interest to other anglers and wish to share it, you can send the details to
WHAT HAS BEEN HAPPENING AT POPULAR FISHING LOCATIONS
If you are going to fish in open ocean waters or from the rocks, please - wear a life jacket.
There are some good tailor and mulloway still coming in from the beaches north of the town. Locations such as San Remo, Singleton and Madora are producing herring, skippy, garfish and whiting early to mid-morning and late afternoon.
It is also a similar story from anglers fishing the southern beaches. They are producing herring and whiting during the day with tailor early morning and evening. Larger tailor are being caught around dusk and after dark. Tim's Thicket and White Hills are the areas that have been producing some excellent catches with a lot of small sharks being taken along with a good variety of species. Anglers fishing in the Dawesville Cut are generally taking home a feed of fish with most anglers catching fish.
Reports indicate that there have been some big tailor taken from either end of The Cut during the last week. There has also been plenty of herring and some very big garfish taken here. Whiting, skippy and a lot of undersized salmon have also been caught over the last couple of weeks. Anglers fishing after dusk seem to be doing a little better than those fishing during daylight hours.
In the estuary, anglers have been catching some good tailor around 45 - 50 cm. There are a few crabs around and they are being taken by scoopers and drop netters. Size is a problem and Fisheries officers have been handing out a lot of infringement notices to crabbers who are taking either undersized crabs or excess to their bag limit. Ignorance of the rules is no excuse and in my opinion you deserve what you get. A lot of effort has been put into education and availability of information and if you are caught, pay the fine. Basically those taking excess or undersized or excess to bag limits of crabs or fish, are fish thieves stealing from those who obey the rules.
Further upstream in the estuary there are some good black bream being taken by anglers using both fresh baits and a variety of lures. Several years ago most anglers would not have considered using lures to target bream, nowadays it seems that if you want to catch a reasonable bream you use a soft plastic or a small hard bodied lure. Even the humble whiting succumb to a well presented lure and several very large yellow-finned whiting have been taken using small surface popping lures. Apparently they replicate a prawn splashing across the surface. There have been several large specimens approaching 500 g taken recently and that is a good fish in anyone's language.
SECRET HARBOUR / PORT KENNEDY / WARNBRO / ROCKINGHAM / SAFETY BAY
Beaches around Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour are still producing tailor, skippy and tarwhine. Rumours of big tailor being taken from a few locations abound, and anglers are being very tight lipped over specific locations.
Small mulloway are also being taken on a regular basis and there are reports of several larger fish to 15 kg being taken from the beaches in this area. Anglers ballooning from the beaches in Warnbro have taken a few spanish mackerel in the last couple of weeks. It requires a little effort and some good easterly winds to get the balloons moving but once out a couple of hundred metres, it could be anything that takes the bait.
Cockburn Sound is turning on some good snapper fishing and spots to look at are on the various gravel patches adjacent to reef and weed banks out from Kwinana and down towards the Causeway. King George whiting are also featuring amongst bags of fish being taken from dinghies in the upper parts of the Sound and out on the broken ground behind the Five Fathom Bank. Shore based anglers are also doing quite well with good catches reported from many popular locations around the eastern side of the Sound. Anglers have been taking a few longtail tuna and spanish mackerel when trolling lures adjacent to bait schools.
KWINANA / NAVAL BASE / WOODMAN POINT / COOGEE:
There have been some huge schools of scaly mackerel hanging around at the Ammunition Jetty and anglers have been catching them and using them for bait and as a live bait with some success. Other species being taken include herring, pike and large garfish which have made up the bulk of anglers' catches at this fishing platform. There are also a few reasonable tailor being taken after dark. Anglers ballooning from this platform have also taken a few spanish mackerel. The ASI Groyne has been providing some tailor action with mainly choppers being caught. Occasionally there are larger tailor being taken to make the fishing a little more interesting.
FREMANTLE / INNER HARBOUR / LOWER REACHES OF SWAN RIVER
At Fremantle, anglers fishing the North Mole are catching a few herring during early morning and late afternoon along with a few blue or scaly mackerel which have been taken from inside the Harbour. Several bonito have been taken over the last few weeks and anglers using lures are taking one or two on a regular basis. The tailor are more consistent at night along both Moles and there are still a few reports of mulloway and small sharks. 'E' Shed wharf has provided a lot of action with several mulloway in the 12 - 15 kg range being taken this week. There have also been reports of more spanish mackerel being taken from here.
The South Mole is providing anglers with good fishing for herring and large garfish and a few skippy and tarwhine. Large whiting are also being taken just on dusk close to shore in the shallow water. South Beach has been producing some excellent sand whiting and a few herring and garfish.
PORT BEACH / LEIGHTON / COTTESLOE / SWANBOURNE:
With 'Sculptures by the Sea' in full swing and crowds of people enjoying the art, angling activity on the groyne is restricted. A lot of smaller tailor have been taken from areas around the groyne. There have been a few big tailor caught, but only for those in the know as to where to find them. Fish about 500 metres either to the north or south of the groyne. It pays to work the white water near the reefs, and bait cast unweighted or lightly weighted baits. Consider alternative baits such as sardines or white bait in lieu of mulies or small metal lures as they are also quite effective when rigged up with a small ball or bean sinker to enable the angler to cast the required distance.
Along the Cottesloe - Swanbourne section of beach, anglers have found some good yellow finned whiting and tarwhine in the early morning. Evenings have also been productive, with tailor and small sharks being taken regularly, particularly when the sea breeze in blowing strongly.
If you are prepared to walk into locations at South City Beach and Swanbourne Drain you will find some good fishing for a few herring, flathead, tarwhine, skippy and some very large sand whiting with fish of around 22 - 25 cm being caught regularly along with some good tailor.
CITY BEACH / FLOREAT / SCARBOROUGH / TRIGG ISLAND
The beaches along this section of the metropolitan coastline have been producing some good fishing for the bread and butter species. Of an evening, anglers can generally find a few tailor and an occasional mulloway. The beaches are still being formed and shaped by swells and this has been causing holes and gutters to form up along the beach, and then disappear just as quickly. When there are good gutters formed up just offshore, they become hiding spots for mulloway and tailor. The smaller species also seek refuge from predators at low water. Don't cast too far as the fish are often just at your feet. Read the beach and note where the wave breaks are and where the holes and gutters have formed. Being able to read the beach like an open book will definitely improve your catch rate.
NORTH BEACH JETTY / HILLARYS / OCEAN REEF / MINDARIE:
The rock walls at these three marinas have been fishing well, particularly during the afternoons. During the day there are herring, whiting, garfish and skippy on the bite in most spots. Tailor action is best during the late afternoon particularly when there is a bit of a sea breeze from the south west. Pinnaroo Point has been producing some excellent sand whiting and herring fishing along with an occasional sand flathead.
QUINNS ROCKS /YANCHEP / TWO ROCKS / MOORE RIVER
Anglers fishing the beaches to the north of Mindarie right through to Moore River have reported taking tailor to 70 cm. Although the exception rather than the norm, they are not as uncommon as people believe.
The prevailing easterlies / south-easterly winds have allowed anglers to bait cast unweighted or lightly weighted mulies, and this helps present the baits more naturally. It is a method that seems to take a lot of fish around this time of year. One problem with baits that don't sink fast is that the crested terns often steal a bait meant for a tailor. Using a very narrow strip of lead wrapped around the shank of the top hook of a gang will help prevent this. A piece about 4 mm wide and 8 cm long will generally suffice.
SWAN AND CANNING RIVERS:
In the lower reaches of the Swan River there are still a few flathead and flounder being taken but they seem to be moving up further into the middle reaches of the river. There are still reports of a few mulloway being taken from the deeper holes in Mosman's. A couple of spots that have fished well for this species include a deep hole in front of the Bamboos in Freshwater Bay and the other, inside of the marker post at the end of the Point Walter spit. Several good fish have been taken from these spots over the last few weeks.
Most of the bream being taken at the moment are coming from areas upstream of East Perth with lots of smaller fish becoming somewhat of a nuisance. In the Canning, anglers have been catching a lot of 30+ cm bream around Canning Bridge and up into Bull Creek. Other anglers fishing around the Casino have also taken some good fish.
There are heaps of sand whiting close to shore for small boats. Numbers of large King George whiting are also biting well in depths around 30 metres. Big skippy and herring are also being taken in numbers by anglers, with judicious use of an oil slick and berley. Small boat anglers fishing areas adjacent to the Three Mile Reef are also taking some good tailor by casting lures into the white water near the reefs. This activity requires team work and skill. It also requires that anglers maintain a careful watch on the sea and swells as it can become quite hairy very quickly when a larger swell that normal comes up while concentrating on a good fish. One angler driving the boat and the other fishing is an ideal way to catch some excellent fish.
Still there are reports of a few good sized King George Whiting being taken from the lower end of Cockburn Sound and out on the broken ground around Rottnest. My tip is to try the region along the North West corner. Fairway Buoy is also worth a drift for whiting. Not only are there some good King George Whiting here but also yellow tailed kings and their cousins, the samsonfish. You could also pick up a Westralian jewfish, pink snapper, and baldchin groper.
There have been some good snapper and Westralian jewfish caught in water depths of 28 - 32 metres about 5 km out on the broken ground west of the Hillarys and Ocean Reef marinas. Bottom fishing has been relatively quiet but bigger boats venturing to the Bank and beyond are finding a few quality jewfish. More jewfish have responded to anchoring and berleying techniques north of Ocean Reef. Anglers fishing the back of the Three Mile have caught several mackerel and small tuna. Most of the pelagic action is coming from areas to the north west of Rottnest Island. Southern bluefin tuna, shark mackerel, yellowtail kingfish and spanish mackerel are all hitting baits and lures at times. Several anglers have reported catching small yellowtail kingfish while watching heaps of shark mackerel jump nearby. They have also hooked and lost some larger tuna. There are a lot of baitfish schooling out there at the moment and this is an encouragement to other species to get in on a good thing. There has also been a lot of good bottom fishing action reported from this region with Westralian jewfish, snapper, King George whiting and some very large breaksea cod being caught. Areas to fish seem to be over broken ground in depths of 28 to 45 metres.
A fish in the hand is worth 10 in the water!