February is one of the best times in our area and pretty much any fish or style of fishing this month should result in success.
Traditional mid-Winter fish like drummer or blackfish can be caught, but now is also the time to chase bream or whiting on surface lures, spin the rocks for pelagics or head out wide in pursuit of marlin – it’s all happening.
Beach fishing through daylight hours should yield some tasty whiting along most stretches of sand. Typically, places like North Entrance and Budgewoi are the pick of the bunch, but it shouldn’t be much trouble to catch whiting anywhere from Pearl Beach right up to Catherine Hill Bay.
Just pick a nice little gutter close in to shore and cast beach worms, bloodworms, pipis or peeled prawns as the tide is rising. It’s a simple formula but it works.
Around sunrise it should be possible to spin up a few tailor by casting 30g to 65g metal lures or by rigging blue pilchards on ganged hooks. The odd bream, flathead and salmon may also take a liking to a pilchard.
Evening fishing may not always be as easy, due to the north-east winds at this time of year, but this is normally a reliable month for jewfish after dark.
A good strategy is to pick a high tide that peaks an hour or two after sunset.
Arrive well before sunset and fish for tailor. If you’re lucky enough to score a few tailor, reserve their heads for jewfish bait.
Although I always write about how good calamari is for jewies at the beach, the truth is a whole tailor head makes a very good, picker-resistant bait that appeals to big jewies. Keep that in mind.
Rock fishing is something many keen anglers look forward to in late Summer and early Autumn, with kingfish and bonito the most sought-after species.
Last season was quite good for numbers of bonito, although the sizes were down a bit.
So far, this season is shaping up to be similar. Small bonito have been out in force over recent months but at least the odd big bonny around 3kg is mixed in with them.
We don’t get as many Watson’s leaping bonito as the North Coast does, but if the currents are favourable they may also show up.
Of course, another favourite, particularly amongst younger anglers in this part of the world, is the frigate mackerel.
Both the Watson’s and the frigates respond better to smaller metals, say under 25g. That’s fine, because it means we get to spin with lighter gear and these little speedsters can really rip out some string on tackle more at home for bream in the estuary.
The usual haunts like South Avoca, Terrigal, Wybung and Frazer Park are always the most reliable when it comes to spinning up kings, bonito or frigates.
Some years I’ve found bream to be out in numbers along the rocks. Over the previous few seasons bream numbers haven’t been that great until later in Autumn but we may be due for a good February.
If you manage to score some bonito or frigates, fillet one and cut the fillet into small cubes. Hang the fish frame so that the waves crash it into the rocks, forming a nice berley trail of oily fish flavours. This will attract any bream in the vicinity and the cubes of bonito flesh make a great bream bait.
The lakes and Brisbane Water should be fishing very well this month, providing we don’t get flooded out again.
Get those surface lures out and skip them across the shallow flats adjacent to weed beds. Bream are the main targets, followed by whiting and then a few flathead may also get in on the act.
I reckon mornings are better for light lure fishing, before the afternoon breeze picks up.
Offshore anglers have quite a bit to choose from this month.
Larger boats can head wide and troll lures, skip baits or live baits with a reasonable chance of marlin.
At this stage it’s hard to predict exactly what the warmer currents will do but if the water warms up closer to shore, try for marlin closer in. It’s certainly not uncommon for small black marlin to be seen within a few hundred metres of Norah Head or Terrigal Skillion but hardly anyone ever tries to catch them.
Then we hear of the ‘surprise’ catch of a marlin that snatched a bait aimed at snapper or kingfish.
As we move closer to Autumn those persistent north-easterlies will start to fade, making afternoon or night fishing easier.
Jewfish and trag are the main reasons to head offshore at night but just as the sun fades I’ve seen all sorts of things happen. Tailor, kingfish, bonito, snapper and squid can go ballistic as the light disappears.
So be prepared for anything and try to take advantage of it by always having a lure or bait out.Reads: 2028