Marine Park Debacle
In my 50 years of fishing I’ve never witnessed such a massive outpouring of genuine outrage from anglers. The trigger was the state governments proposal to lock fishos out of 25 sites between Newcastle and Wollongong. Within a week the Facebook page ‘Stop the Lockout’ had grown to nearly 70 thousand irate members.
The proposed lock-outs were based on very ‘weak’ science, mainly extrapolation, from other dissimilar areas. They failed to consider safety and overcrowding issues and no consideration had been given to transfer of effort. There was no acknowledgement of the social and economic benefits of recreational fishing. There were no proposed baseline studies so critical to future assessment.
The anti-angling sentiment in the proposal overshadowed the real threats to the point that they were inadequately addressed or even completely ignored. This has been to the detriment of the marine estate and its bio-diversity.
Three weeks into the consultation process the Minister put an end to the carnage by announcing that angler lock-outs were ‘off the table’ — but the damage was already done.
The proposal had caused considerably social grief and has only served to drive the wedge further between angling and genuine conservation groups. It has undermined 20 years of good public relations and cooperation between DPI Fisheries and anglers and has, even further, lowered our trust in politicians and bureaucracy. The Shooters Fishers and Farmers party announced that it would be contesting all seats in regions affected by the proposals and Labor were forced to announce that angler lock outs would not be part of any plans they had for future marine parks.
The proposal represents a disgraceful waste of tax payer’s money. Its unworkable and incompetent, however it does represent a good example of what you would expected from a panel made up almost exclusively of scientists and academics — to the exclusion of all other stakeholders. As the Minister , Niall Blair , said ‘we have got the ‘balance’ wrong’. He said this in relation to the proposal but , in my opinion , it applies equally well to the make-up of the panel. Even Greens MP Justin Fields acknowledged that there ‘were problems with the design’ of the proposal
The best thing MEMA can do now is to scrap the whole proposal and start fresh. I think the existing panel should be restructured to represent a more balanced cross-section of community stakeholders. I believe MEMA needs to completely disassociate itself from, what is in my opinion, the entire incestuous, insidious, anti-fishing network who were the main drive behind this incompetent proposal. It is also my opinion that the ‘independent chair’ overseeing the authority will need to be replaced with someone who is more astute at recognizing incompetence and conspiracy.
The only good to have come out of this proposal is it has woken and united the huge angling community. It has exposed the true nature of our anti-fishing enemy and their networks. It has revealed the injustice and bullying that has been imposed on our regional coastal angling communities — too small to defend themselves—over the last 20 years. It has shown us how the power of social media and information technologies can be used reveal their networks and diffuse and discredit their propaganda. Most importantly we have put them ‘on notice’ — that they now have the eyes and ears of one million recreational anglers fixed upon them. The Fisheries bureaucrats, the politicians, MEMA and the multitude of anti-fishing groups hiding behind a thin veil of science, conservation and official sounding names like ‘the sub aquatic study club’ — you are now and forever under our close scrutiny.
I urge all anglers who want to protect their future fishing rights to join the Facebook group ‘Stop the Lockout’ and unite with us to put an end to this anti-fishing ideology.
Back to fishing
Late spring and early summer is the prime time of the year for surface feeding pelagics so now is probably a good time to kick your lure collection into action. Already, as I write this, salmon are swarming at the heads , kings are making an early run into the harbour and with middle harbour full of baitfish , it’s looking like a great season ahead.
Not only is this prime time to lure up some surface fish it’s also a good time to take a shot at bream and flatties on artificials.
Before I get into what lures to use on what fish I’ll go over a few tips on making sure that your lure kit is up to scratch.
The most important part of your lure is the hooks . Inspect your hooks for rust. Rust can make your hooks weak and blunt. A rusty hook will not penetrate as smoothly as a shiny one. Replace rusty hooks and split rings.
You might decide to replace your hooks with chemically sharpened ones which WILL improve your hook up rate. If you decide to go with standard hooks, then take to them with a sharpening stone and get those points razor sharp.
Check that your lures are performing correctly. The style of lures that are most likely to get out of tune are the minnows. A bump on the bib last season can put them out of tune which will usually result in making them swim off to one side. In really bad cases they might even spin. Adjustment can be made by bending the tow eyelet a fraction in the opposite direction to which the lure is swimming. With some lures its near impossible to bend the eyelet due to its solid construction. In this case you can make the same adjustments by bending the bib itself. Naturally this is only practical with the metal bibbed lures and should not be attempted with the plastic bibs.
Other maintenance might include cleaning dirty painted finishes , polishing tarnished metal reflective surfaces and patching up torn soft plastics with a hot wire .
Organization of your lure collection in your tackle box is equally as important. There’s nothing more frustrating than reaching for a suitable lure and finding that it comes out in a tangled mess with twenty others, while tuna are busting out all around your boat. The time taken sorting out the mess can often exceed a feeding spree.
Plastic hook guards are a great remedy for this but remember to keep the WD40 up to them as they have a tendency to hold moisture.
Sort your lures into types and sizes and familiarize yourself their positions in the box.
Kingies are one of the tougher lure opponents found in Sydney harbour. Tough, both in the sense that they don’t respond very well to most of what we throw at them and that when one is finally hooked they fight hard and dirty. Not that they are not taken on minnows , but in general , they are largely ignored. When they are schooling and feeding on the surface they will begrudgingly take metal slugs. They show quite a bit more interest in surface poppers. The best lures , by a long stretch , are the soft plastic stick baits.
The original Slug-go and its imitators like Platinum lures are still by far the best design for pelagic work .