Want to catch a big Illawarra jewie from the beach? This is the month to make your move.
Over coming weeks the big fish will feed up before spawning and at such times they seem to let their guard down a bit.
But you can’t just turn up and catch a fish, you must put in time on the right tides with fresh bait for a much better chance of hooking that big one than at virtually any other time of the year.
Night is the right time and some guys work the tides, getting up at 1am to catch the top of the tide and fishing for only a couple of hours before heading back to bed. They know that if the fish are about then this is the optimum time.
You could fish at any time; even shallow gutters at dead low tide have produced in the past but that’s fishing – you just never know. But for premium results, the top of a big tide is a great place to start.
Fresh bait is the key and squid, half a slimy mackerel or slabs of tuna are all great. Don’t overlook a fresh fillet of blackfish if you can’t get your favoured bait, jewies like them all and even if you don’t score that monster there are plenty of schoolies about.
Good beaches to start looking are Coalcliff, Thirroul any beach from Bellambi to Wollongong, Coniston, Windang near the lake breakwalls, Shellharbour north, The Farm and Bombo. You just have to be there when they swim past.
Whiting don’t grow as big as jewies but they sure taste good and they are on all the abovementioned beaches. Perhaps the jewies like a feed of whiting, too.
Fish light for the whiting, 4kg line will do, any heavier and your strike rate will come down.
So grab some beach worms and the light gear and work along the beach gutters until you find a school and get a few.
Bream are also grabbing the worms, as are flathead and a few big salmon that will really give the whiting gear a workout.
You can certainly get a mixed bag for several months along local beaches.
The estuaries are really starting to get on the boil this month as the flatties get going in Lake Illawarra. Just about any patch of sand will hold a lizard and casting into small pockets in among the weed beds often scores bigger fish. Most anglers generally bypass these areas.
All the usual soft plastics are working, as are live prawns and poddy mullet.
Whiting are becoming more abundant on the flats between the bridge and the entrance and some are big.
Blackfish are feeding along the edges of the weed and there are bream along the rocky edges of the islands. Live prawns are bringing them undone.
In the creeks there are a few bream and some ripper mullet. A bit of bread berley and a small float to keep your bait up will give hours of fun and you are generally out of the north-easter that blows so ferociously at this time of year.
Garfish, too, are attracted to the bread or a handful of bran. Behind the Windang Caravan Park is a good spot for tasty garfish.
Minnamurra is similar with whiting on the flats at the entrance and flatties all along its length. Now the cicadas and Christmas beetles are about, the bass in the upper reaches should be on the chew.
The rocks are looking good, with bonito, salmon, tailor and kingfish taking lures and live baits on all the deeper ledges.
Big kings are working the ledges at dawn and dusk, when a small live bonito is a top bait.
There is still some cooler water about so a few drummer are worth chasing in the washes and bream are mixed with them. A lightly weighted royal red prawn or cunje chunk could pay dividends.
Offshore, we still have a bit of cold water ahead of us before it all happens.
That hasn’t stopped the ever-popular flathead from biting well on every patch of sand off the coast.
Leatherjackets seem to be scarce now the pros are targeting them. Amazing how even these can be really put under pressure when they are targeted en masse, not that the flathead guys are complaining.
Over the reefs there are plenty of pan snapper with the odd better fish if you are patient and work hard with a berley trail in water deeper than 30m.
A few small hammerhead sharks have started to pop up in berley trails in close so the warm water can’t be too far away.
Also over the reefs are small samson fish, some good mowies, hordes of sweep, trevally, pigfish and still a few jackets.
Further offshore there are plenty of striped tuna from about 60 fathoms onwards with some getting in closer along the beaches and headlands. With the stripies are some yellowfin that get bigger as you get further out.
But don’t be surprised if a big ’fin shows up in your snapper berley trail on Bandit, Wollongong Reef or off Shellharbour; they always turn up in early December on the inner reefs. They’re not in the numbers they used to but every year they show if only for a day or two; the trick is to be there when they do.
Albacore are still a chance on the continental shelf before the big push of hot water comes and takes them south.
Striped marlin are the target for the game fishos this month with the chance of a blue marlin as well. The blacks are a few weeks away yet but you never know, it could be worth a look.
Most of the action in closer will be the kings around the islands, Shellharbour and Bellambi Bommie. Most of kings are 3kg to 8kg and are suckers for a slow trolled live mackerel or yellowtail.
I have given up on the islands for kings; since all the seals have taken up residence on Gap Island you just can’t get a fish out without a seal getting it. It can be fun trying but very frustrating when they get every fish.
If it gets too frustrating, try chasing salmon and bonito, the seals don’t seem to like them as much and they are all along the coast – just look for the birds and the splashes on the surface.Reads: 5884