The days are a bit cooler and shorter now and daylight saving is over but the warm water is still with us, so there is plenty of good fishing to be had in coming weeks.
Bread and butter fish will be the big movers this month with snapper, kings, bream and jewies all giving their best and with Easter falling on the full moon at the end of the month, you need to get out there at them.
Jewies are the target on the beaches with plenty of schoolies and a few larger fish filtering through in recent weeks. Those putting in the hours with fresh bait are getting the results but a few fish have come to those just testing their luck with pilchards or fillets of fish bait.
For those bigger fish a large fillet of fresh slimy mackerel or a squid head are bait but if the bream and salmon are picking your offering to pieces then a butterflied slimy mackerel or yellowtail might be the answer.
Stick at it, because the moment you downsize and chase the bream you will hook that big jewie – Murphy’s Law works every time.
You may have the skill and luck to land a big jew on light tackle – it happens from time to time – but you would prefer to be on equal terms when that fish of a lifetime grabs your bait.
Those drive-you-nuts whaler sharks seem to be everywhere. They mostly bite you off but one hooked in the corner of the mouth gives one heck of a workout and wastes a lot a precious jewie time, so keep plenty of terminal tackle handy to make extra rigs.
The top spots are Bombo, Killalea, Windang, Warilla, Coniston, Puckeys, East Corrimal, Thirroul, Coalcliff and Stanwell Park beaches, just look for the deepest gutter.
You don’t have to cast to New Zealand; often the big fish are just behind the shore break hunting mullet, whiting and bream.
If chasing the big ones is not your cup of tea the bream seem to really be on every beach. The deep gutters and channels next to the rocks are holding lots of good fish with fresh striped tuna baits guaranteed to get plenty of bites.
Big whiting are on all the beaches and the beach worm is hard to go past for bait. There are some decent dart as well. Generally despised further up the coast, they are an interesting extra this far south.
Salmon are thick at the moment along with some tailor over 3kg. They are on every beach with Coniston producing most nights and pillies on ganged hooks are the bait of choice.
Throw in a few nice flathead and who needs a boat to get a good feed and have heaps of fun?
Now the days are shortening, the bream in Lake Illawarra are starting to get a wriggle on and the rocky shores around the islands and around the bridge are producing nice fish.
The shallows around Primbee could be worth a look with those little pencil poppers over coming weeks, producing bream, a few big whiting and the odd flattie.
Flathead season has been magnificent.
They never get really big in the lake due to the netting pressure but this year they have been swarming all over the place and it has been a bad day if you didn’t get one at least every five minutes. They still have a few weeks to run and are worth another look.
The whiting over the flats down at the entrance are just getting bigger and are taking poppers during the week. When the traffic gets heavier on weekends you will need worms.
A few salmon are blowing up in the main channel and along the breakwall and a big soft plastic fished around the bridge pylons could produce a few mulloway surprises.
Minnamurra is much the same, with the bonus of a few mangrove jacks spotted by a gentleman having a snorkel around the bridge pylons and some big trevally hanging around, too.
Tempting them to grab something is another matter. If you do, let me know just for interest’s sake.
The rocks are going off and will get better as a few longtail tuna filter down the coast. Coalcliff, Cathedral Rocks, Bombo, the south side of Bass Point, Kiama Blowhole, and Marsdens are all great spots.
Big kings are on the move and the same live baits and live squid will get them every time.
Throw in some solid mack tuna to 8kg and big bait-stealing bonito to 4kg and the live-bait scene looks good.
Toss a lure or a fly under a big bobby float for bonito, salmon, tailor, frigate mackerel and even a few striped tuna. Bass Point north side, Honeycomb, and Port Kembla breakwalls are all good and all the harbours have frigates zipping in and out for a bit of fun and great bream bait.
Unweighted tuna cubes in the washes are bringing undone big bream, a few trevally and some nice snapper.
Offshore, mahi mahi remain on the FADs with plenty of striped tuna taking small Christmas tree lures.
The small yellowfin are being replaced by bigger fish now the water temp has dropped a bit so some solid ’fin action should be on the cards.
Black marlin have backed right off but there is still a chance of one over the inshore reefs and beyond.
Stripes and blues are the main species and the blues can range up to 300kg so the heavy gear is usually required – but not always.
Michael Moon scored his first beaky a few weeks back, a solid 168kg blue on a threadline reel, 50lb braid and a jig stick in 75 fathoms off Wollongong. I hope he had some protection from the rod butt, that’s a massive fish on spin tackle.
In closer, the fishing is fabulous with good kings around the islands, Bass Point and Bellambi. Live bait is a must.
Some big bonito have been grabbing live baits and making nuisances of themselves. In January bonnies up to nearly 4kg have been prolific so with a few more weeks of feeding under their belts we could well see 6kg-plus fish this month.
These would really give world records a nudge on the right tackle.
Most of the world marks for big bonnies come from around here so a few more could be added to the list in coming weeks.
The big snapper will again be in close on the Easter full moon, particularly over the northern reefs. Anchor and berley for best results but there are a few local guys who really give them a touch-up on plastics.
Reefs in up to 20m seem to be best, places like the reef systems off Austinmer, Coledale, Wombarra just off the cemetery, Coalcliff and The Hump off Stanwell Park.
The smaller pelagics are still boiling all along the coast with bonnies, salmon, tailor, trevally, frigates, striped tuna and small kings. A few spotted and Spanish mackerel are also in the mix but mostly they are taken on pilchards or cut baits meant for other species.
For the bottom bouncers the pickings are good. Flatties show no signs of slowing down and the snapper, samson, a few trag and mowies are all over the reefs. There have even been a few pearlies and a stray spangled emperor so anything can happen during April.Reads: 2519