We have a small sample of what we should have in regard to summer weather then it was back into jumpers again. While it hasn’t been the best for fishing this week the cooler and a bit of rain has helped the firefighters to gain a little ground and closer to taking control, but there is still a long way to go. There is also a long way to go for the towns affected and it’s going to be a very tough 12 months or so for many businesses in these areas, sadly some won’t make it with a loss of their major tourism income for this year. The effect of the fires is reaching a far wider area than those that have been burnt and speaking to some of the accommodation places around the island they have had several cancellations for the up coming weeks with the fires being stated as the reason, while other businesses are reporting a lower than expected summer period. There is a few long weekends coming up before the end of the season so hopefully some of the more desperate businesses in the affected areas can salvage something before the winter period sets in.
This weekend sees the annual Kustom cars in San Remo and is a couple of weeks later than normal with a casual gathering on Friday night and bands on at both hotels with the major gathering on Saturday. There will be bands playing most of the afternoon on stage on the foreshore with plenty of Kustom cars to look at. There will be parking restrictions in Marine Pde for the day and it will be busy so if you need supplies from us come early, we are here from 6am or the night before. Don’t forget there is plenty of parking behind the bottle shop.
We have our new tide charts in but we are no longer doing them for free, despite many thinking there is some tide chart company that gives them to us for free there isn’t and we actually pay for them. What we have decided to do though is donate the money from the tide charts to the Good Friday Appeal and we are simply asking you to donate something for a chart. Some aren’t happy, one customer even telling me during the week that we have no right to charge for the charts and we have an obligation to customers to provide them for free. It has been pleasing though to see the number of visitors aware of the plastic bag ban and coming with their own or happy enough without a bag at all. There is always someone that isn’t happy with a local customer asking for a refund if we couldn’t supply him a plastic bag for his bait telling me climate change is made up and we are all being fooled, while not getting into a climate change argument we tried to explain the plastic bag free is more of a garbage problem, which is real and measurable he wasn’t willing to listen, I guess some will never get it. To give you an idea of the difference it has made, we would give out around 95 plastic bags per 100 customers whereas now its about 15 paper bags per 100 customers.
The fishing this week has been typical of January with a bit of unsettled weather slowing down the boats and restricting many to the land. The best part of the island when its holiday time is visitors will tend to bring all sorts of gear with them and if they can’t get the boat out they will head to a land based fishing spot and we get a lot more reports. On the surf the big swell has pushed up a bit of weed again, especially at Kilcunda beaches towards the bridge and it can be challenging to fish. The beaches toward the cemetery and powlett are cleaner and easier to fish. The reports from that area has been small salmon with those fishing closer to the bridge catching a few bigger ones but no reports from the rocks because of the weed. Once it cleans up the rocks are worth a look if you want to chase a whiting, flathead or gummy. Surf beaches on the island have been clean but slow and only small salmon.
The beach/rocks at Smiths Beach and Sunderland Bay has been producing some good whiting and trevally with a couple of pinkies and plenty of wrasse but only on the low tide. We have had a few people do the walk out to the old quarry and as usual it’s a bit of a feast of famine out there. One day we have plenty of fish reported, problem is most are not worth taking home and the next someone will only catch a couple but quality table fish. Flathead, pinkies salmon and a couple of whiting are the better of the reports while you will at times be plagued by wrasse. If you are making the walk out to the old quarry, rig a rod with a squid jig and break up the walk casting along the way for calamari. We have had several reported from the beach, especially around the sand hill to the quarry.
The jetties and the back beaches always throw up a mixed bag through January as well as plenty of tangles with those new to the area not using enough weight. Calamari have now become a must for everyone to chase and the best part is there isn’t a lot of skill required, you don’t need the most expensive gear and if you catch some you have both a feed and some fresh bait. San Remo jetty and Newhaven jetty have been the best this week with a handful from Cowes jetty also. We have seen a variety of fish caught, whiting, pinkies, flathead, trevally and some small gummies but not a lot of larger or numbers of anything. While you might not catch several of each or anything to challenge the record books there is a chance of catching a few species which makes for an interesting meal of fish.
Boating has been a bit the same with plenty of variety and not necessarily a lot of one species. The whiting continue to be hiding in the deeper water and the reports of bigger fish are noticeably better. The better area has again been around tortoise head back to long point on the edge of the channel in up to 10m of water. We are seeing the odd bigger whiting in the shallows, dickies bay, cleeland bight but most of the reports are telling us that they are with 100’s of very small fish and frustrating trying to get the baits down. While the smaller fish can be frustrating it will make for a good couple of years to come. We are seeing a pattern with those successful in the deeper water with the rig they are using. Some are using the traditional paternoster 2 hook rig but by far those using a rig with a fixed sinker and one long dropper are catching more fish. The hook size being used is a bit bigger than those in the shallows with up to a size 2 in a long shank and up to a 3/0 in a octopus or circle hook, don’t be scared to upscale your baits even using a cocktail of bait, squid and pippi or pilchard.
Snapper are hard to find and very small pinkies are hard to get away from and at times are almost in plague proportions. Perseverance worked for some and they came home with some quality pan size ones for tea. The best spots has been anywhere across the corals area in the 6m to 8m of water using a two hook paternoster rig, up to size 4/0 circle hooks and pilchard or squid for bait. While you are fishing for the pinkies you will come across plenty of small gummies and occasionally one big enough to take home. Don’t forget how to measure your gummies, we have had plenty of people telling us they are seeing undersize ones at the boat ramps.
Offshore is the other place to head when the weather allows with some very good reports of flathead, gummies, mako sharks and now we are starting to see kingfish show up. The flathead have been good tiger flathead and in close from the end of the cape to Kilcunda bridge. The makos are also in close still and will be until the water warms up a bit more when they will head out a bit deeper during the day. Gummies and the odd snapper are coming from the reefs of Kilcunda to cape Patterson.