THE weather has not played the game over the past month.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to line up even one charter with good weather.
On the plus side, I got out and chased a few prawns. For anyone who knows me, I don’t do this very often, but plenty of prawns are around. So I gave my mate Benny a call one afternoon and we planned to head out the next morning to chase a few.
We had a high tide around 7am, so I had Ben meet me at my place just before 5am to head out and work the last two hours of the incoming tide and first two hours of the outgoing. Why did we pick that part of the tide to chase the prawns?
Simply, the word on the street was that’s when most of the prawns had been around. As usual, I’m not too keen on going out if not a lot is around. I’d rather go out during prime time to give us the best possible chance to catch some with the least amount of work. Popping the boat in the water, we headed straight to the Saltworks because that’s where the prawns had been. Upon arrival, we were greeted by at least 20 boats, so we tried to find a quieter spot.
We ran around a few of the usual prawn-y areas but didn’t find enough on the sounder for us to have a shot at, so we headed back and prawned with the crowd. There’s nothing wrong with going with the crowd, and every time I’ve done it I’ve been lucky enough that everybody’s been quite sociable and well mannered. Even in those close quarters I’ve had a bit of a chat and laugh as we all try to catch ourselves a feed. Now it’s not essential but it helps to have a good sounder and know what you’re looking for. I am lucky enough to have a 12” Lowrance so can pick up the prawns quite well.
When sounding for prawns, just remember the transducer is at the back of your vessel, so when you see the prawns starting to come onto your screen, remember they’re already behind you. So when my sounder showed me I was on top of the school, I put the boat in reverse and backed up about a boat length, which put Ben (casting from the front of the boat) genuinely over the school.
Doing this proved quite important in getting good pockets of prawns. Another thing that really helped increase the catch rate was having a net with a bit of weight to allow it to get to the bottom quicker.
When it was on the bottom, we would keep the boat over the top of the net and give it a few little jerks. Not lifting the net off the bottom, just jerking it up and down to help get the prawns into the top pocket. We were using the Wilson Ezy-Cast series of nets. They come in 9’, 10’ and 12’ sizes. The 10’ lead weight net with bottom and top pockets works well in water up to 3m, then in deeper water I use the 12’ top pocket pro chain net. As I said, I don’t prawn terribly often, but I have found these nets catch plenty and don’t break the budget.
Another word of advice: if you haven’t thrown cast nets a lot, don’t wait to have your first throws in the middle of everyone because it will only end in tears. Go somewhere else and have a few casts to build confidence before moving into the crowd. I like to practice at home on the lawn, but definitely practice in the boat too because it’s totally different when the boat is moving around and you’ve got limited room to cast. Everything changes when 40-50 boats are around you. Anyway, back to mine and Ben’s day chasing prawns. We went back to the crowd and by this stage were greeted by about 40 boats. I pulled up on the outside of the main bunch, Ben got ready with the net, I sounded up a nice patch of prawns and Ben’s cast netted a nice pocket of prawns. We kept doing this for another few hours as the tide was running out.
While we didn’t bag out, we got ourselves a nice Esky of prawns. We noticed when we got into the middle of the tide and it started to run harder we got fewer prawns. In the end, for the effort versus reward, we decided to head home and were back at the ramp just before 10am. We had a great morning session and came back with a nice feed and plenty of time to get a few things done in the afternoon. Let’s hope this weather tidies up and I will get back out on the water doing the things I love: fishing charters and tuition. As we all know with our jobs and lives, we are time poor, so if you can learn more to optimise your time on the water, then why not? Remember: knowledge is the key.
If you’re interested in any off or on-water tuition classes or you just want to do a charter, don’t be afraid to give me a call on 0432 386 307 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also check out the Sean Conlon’s Fishing Charters and Tuition Facebook page.