The summer months are a great time to be fishing offshore from Sydney Australia. From November through to June the warm currents flowing from the north bring a host of great sportfish right down the New South Wales coastline down as far as the Victorian border. For the keen big game fisherman there are 3 species of Marlin available & they are Blue, Striped & Black. The majority of the Black Marlin are small & range from around 80 pounds up to about 150 pounds. The Striped Marlin vary in size depending where you are fishing, close in the average fish would be around 120 pounds while further offshore they are caught up to 250 pounds. The Blue Marlin in general are large fish from around 250 pounds & upwards. Each year several Blue Marlin over 500 pounds are tagged off Sydney & while the elusive 1000 pounder has never been landed even though some very large fish have been hooked. The marlin fishing offshore from Sydney over the last 7 or 8 years has been fantastic & the equal of anywhere in the world. On many occasions the fish have been available to the small boat angler as well as the currents have brought the schools of mackerel which the marlin feed on to within a couple of miles of the coast. During this period the well known Sydney boat "The Sheriff" tagged & released 12 marlin in 4 hours! The numbers of fish available have been steadily increasing each year & I think this is mainly due to tag & release fishing which has been in practice for many years now & the results are showing through.
Depending on what type of fishing you prefer there are many other great fish available. I really enjoy saltwater fly fishing & lure casting for Kingfish & Tuna. The boat I own is a 15 foot centre console with a 70HP engine & using this I fish anywhere up to 15 miles offshore looking for action. My 2 favorite types of tuna are the Mackerel Tuna & the Striped Tuna (skipjack). Both of these species are great fighters & fairly easy to find. The Mackerel Tuna are about in early summer & average about 15 pounds while the Striped Tuna in early summer are around the 10 to 12 pound mark & as summer moves on the size drops to around 4 pounds. The tackle I normally use on these fish is a 10 weight fly rod or a single handed bait caster spooled with 4 kilo line. We travel offshore looking for the schools of tuna feeding on the surface or flocks of birds diving of schools of baitfish & when we locate a school we get close then cut the motor & drift to within casting range. A baitfish imitation fly or a small metal slug type lure is cast ahead of the feeding fish & it is rarely ignored. When hooked these small tuna really take off & can travel at around 30 mph on the first run. They normally make a long surface run then go deep & slug it out. A large tuna of either species is usually a 30 to 40 minute fish & will test the limits of your light tackle. It is a great way to fish & I never tire of it.
Trolling light tackle around the headlands from Broken Bay to Sydney Harbour always produces a bit of action. Many types of predatory fish hang around the washes in this area. Species commonly taken are Bonito, Kingfish, Frigate Mackerel, Tailor & Australian Salmon. All these fish are great fighters on light gear & the normal technique is to troll minnow lures like Rapala's & Pink Squids & a bit of action is never far away. Often more northern species like Samson Fish & small Amberjacks are taken as well particularly in March & April when the water temp is at its peak.Ê
Casting lures & flies around fish trap marker buoys is a great way to score on Dolphin Fish (Dorado's). This is another one of my favourites as well. Dolphin fish are one of my favorite fish as they fight very hard & are excellent to eat particularly the larger ones. The size we often catch is around 6 or 7 pounds but fish of 30 pounds are not uncommon. They must be one of the prettiest fish in the ocean. It is a lot of fun to cruise up to a group of trap floats cast a lure or fly in close & watch the dolphin fish charge out from under the floats to strike it. Often a dozen or more will chase the lure & it is just a matter of luck whether a large fish gets to it first.
Back on the game fishing front even though there are still plenty of large Tiger Sharks out on the continental shelf not many pursue them these days most boats are targeting billfish. The most common method in use these days is a method called switch baiting. Where teasers are trolled & when a marlin starts attacking them they are slowly wound to the boat. A fresh bait is then fed back behind the boat to the fish & when it is taken the fish is free spooled for a few seconds before striking. This is my favorite way of catching marlin as often I have fed a bait to a fish & had it taken 4 or 5 yards from the stern of the boat & you get to see it all lit up with its blue & gold stripes as it attacks the bait. The fish we catch are normally taken on 20 or 30 pound tackle but we always have an 80 pound outfit ready with a large bait in case a really big Blue Marlin shows up. Sooner or later some one will get that 1000 pound fish. There are currently 2 world record claims in for both Blue & striped marlin that were captured on fly tackle in February 2002.
The fishing around Sydney seems to be getting better & better each year & it is nice to be able to catch Marlin & other game fish within sight of the central business district of Australia's biggest city. Provided it is managed properly this standard of fishing should remain for years to come.
Big Blue marlin taken from Norah Canyons north of Sydney
Nice Mahi taken about 5 miles offshore