Warmer water stirs ocean activity
Spring can bring some relief from colder winter temperatures and this week it has heated up just that little bit more in the water.
Big bait balls have been encountered along the west side of the cape outside the Ningaloo Reef at about 50m depth. These bait balls have been sitting low during the low tides and pushing up on the high tide to the surface.
These baits are what billfish anglers would call perfect marlin cookies. We jigged one of the bait balls to find fat yellow tail scad, approximately 25cm in length and 4cm in diameter.
We believe this is why there has been less action for those anglers trolling lures. Essentially, the billfish are most likely pre-occupied with the plentiful bait.
Pictured this week is a screen shot of some of the bait balls that are thick for a good 20m-plus in depth and show predatory fish, most likely billfish, around them.
Blue swimmer crabs have continued to be caught in the gulf, with the odd mud crab showing up as well. Interestingly, the blue swimmer crab is the most sought-after recreational fishing species in WA, according to the Department of Fisheries a few years ago.
Between those caught using drop nets and fresh prawns using cast nets, it’s certainly worthwhile having your netting licence. If you’re not sure how to use a cast net, drop in and get a one-on-one lesson at Tackle World.
The water clarity over the last few days has been sensational. While travelling at speed out of the marina, the ocean floor was easily seen in depths over 5m. The waters around the Muiron Islands was crystal clear as well, and in some areas vision in 8m depths was easy from a boat.
This, with favourable wind conditions and lack of swell, has encouraged spear fishing enthusiasts. Jeremy Telfer headed out with his mate Liam from Perth and Matt Gates to target some red emperor in deep water. Jeremy has free-dived over 30m and is exceptionally fit. The best fish for the day was the red emperor pictured this week that weighed more than 10kg.
Manta rays have been seen in very big numbers along the inside of the Muiron Islands and right in along the cape. Often with these fish come lots of cobia, that like to travel with mega fauna.
Of course, there are lots of whales around still, so a day on the gulf is almost guaranteed to provide some activity.
The bait is starting to gather in the gulf as well, which also brings pods of sailfish, not to mention big schools of trevally, tuna and mackerel. If there is a forecast for calm conditions in the gulf, I’d get out with some good lures, or bait jigs.
Matt Gates with a 10kg-plus red emperor.
Big baitballs picked up on the sounder, with predatory fish around them.