This season started a few weeks earlier than usual for us, normally the boys start to target Marlin off the rocks in late December through to March; but this season we couldn't wait. The last week of November saw us mobilise and start our trips to our favourite ledge on the NSW south coast. Bait was hard to come by, so that meant leaving the petrol pumps at home for the first few trips; as we focused on spinning Tackle International stickbaits and poppers.
Throughout these recon trips we were greeted by big schools of small kings, salmon and the odd bonito, all who were happy to chase and hit lures. Great fun! As the season progressed out came the petrol pumps, the livebait pools and the dreaded 2am race to the ledge. It's all business on the way down, with the odd bloke having a laugh, but nobody really relaxes until their pool has a few slimy mackerel in it. Being one of the gun baits for marlin, the pressure is on to catch and keep them alive for the whole day ahead. This season the slimies were on one week, then off for two weeks, the atmosphere on the ledge was not the best; as some boys moved into their 9th, 10th and even 12th season without landing the most prized scalp for an LBG fisherman.
As the bait moved in, so did the predators with the first captures being sharks such as makos and hammerheads and finally in late January the first spooling of the season by a marlin, caught on Facebook's live video. As expected the news travelled fast and the next week saw 20 extra fisho's competing for a shot at a beak. In February the currents started to play ball and the warm water brushed the coastline, this brought on one of the best Marlin runs ever seen in southern NSW. 36 Marlin got caught most of them between 30 kg to 50 kg with the standouts hitting the 130 kg, 100 kg and 98kg mark. On a personal note I got the closest I've been to hooking a Marlin, with one cheeky bugger taking my slimy down and jumping before I could strike and set the hook. This all 15m off the ledge, what a sight. I did manage to land my first 20 kg Hammerhead Shark and my first genuine hoodlum a Yellowtail Kingfish weighing in at 15 kg and measuring 109 cm. After 6 years of chasing a hood, I was stoked to tick that one off my list.
Once the marlin started to thin out, we packed away the heavy gear, pulled out the tuna sticks and reels. The water off northern NSW was hitting 25 degrees, so we turned our attention to chasing long tail tuna, cobia, spanish mackerel and even the odd yellowfin. When ledge life gets tough and it does, the only thing that motivates us to get up and go is the chance of sparing with these prized gamefish. Our first few tuna trips were filled with action with every member of team hooking up, unfortunately the sharks moved in and many of us struggled to get anything past their jaws. We did manage to land close to 15 mack tuna mainly on the Tackle International Blue Lightning Poppers and livebaits.
On a few of the trips we found it hard to drift a bait out, so we turned to plan B slide bait fishing; the style is so versatile it can literally be used anywhere. This season we mainly fished during the week so that meant 30 less lines in the water, perfect for me to test the application whilst others fished using traditional LBG techniques. I found that whilst my line was anchored 100m off the ledge, other fishos could drift their baits across my line without any tangles. I think the key here was short hook leaders used by the float fisherman. On one of the days I slid baits out, I was annihilated by two monsters that drilled me into the reef, possibly Kings but more likely Cobia.
With winter around the corner and 6 months of LBG fishing under our belts this season came to a close. It was hard but extremely enjoyable and always educational. The next season can't come fast enough. Bring it on!