Brave the elements
  |  First Published: July 2011

Bitter westerly winds have been blowing off the snow-capped mountains, forcing all but the keenest anglers indoors. But there is great fishing if you rug up, get out there and brave the elements.

Rock fishing in Winter is one of the best bets for success, with a multitude of species on offer. Bream, drummer, groper and snapper are just a few that will be on the chew.

Snapper have been nicely increasing in numbers and in size as the water drops below 17°.

Cuttlefish will now be in spawn and this phenomenon always triggers some sensational action on big reds. Often wary fish, snapper throw caution to the wind once a dead cuttlefish floats to the surface – usually the result of a dolphin attack.

But not all of the big snapper have been confined to the inshore waters. One lucky angler recently found out when drifting a live nipper at night in the Clyde River from a moored houseboat. When 6.4kg of knobby snapper hit the deck, it confused all on board, who were sure that they had hooked a solid jewfish. I’d love to see that sort of by-catch anytime!

Drummer will be queuing up in the washes, eager to snaffle a lightly weighted peeled prawn or cunjevoi bait.


Braid filled threadline reels are a fun way to get into some heart-in-mouth pig action; 10kg braid matched to a 15kg leader would be a good choice.

For heavy kingfish and tuna work, not to mention off the beach for jewfish, I have been using an FG knot that I found on YouTube and have been thoroughly impressed with its strength and slim profile going through rod guides.

This Winter I intend to expand the FG knot to some braid drummer fishing and expect to see equally good results. The beauty of this connection is you can use enough leader to get several wraps onto the reel, so you get the sensitivity of braid and the full benefit of mono in close quarters.

With heavy snag country always an issue, tight braid has only to touch rock when connected to a rampaging drummer to make for an instant bust-off.

So far all tests have never broken at the FG knot, it always breaks at the hook, so replacing leaders after a snag should not be an issue.

A couple of big – monumentally big – stingrays off the beach really drove home how good this connection is.

Initially, it is a pretty tedious knot to tie but after a few times I can now knock one out in about two minutes. I also like to smear a light coat of nail polish on the knot for added neatness and insurance against any slippage.

Ideally, while learning it the FG is a knot to be tied in the comfort of your home and what better time than a cold Winter’s day with a hot cuppa or belly-warming Bundy.


Bonito continue to be viable targets with numerous fish in the 6kg smashing any live yellowtail or slimy mackerel sent out under a float or balloon.

The big fish of Winter have really been fixated on live baits and have been a tad harder to pin on lures. But they are still worth spinning for.

X-Rap Slash Baits are one of the best bonito lures but any shallow-diving lures generally work. Metals, too, are scoring a few fish, particularly if there is small bait on the menu.

The beaches have been fantastic for huge salmon and tailor with fish regularly bumping the old-fashioned 10lb mark. Night has been without doubt the best time for both species and bonito fillets work sensationally, with a big jewfish always a chance, too.

Jewfish have been pretty quiet but this month it is still well worth seeking them – make sure you have enough layers to ward off the cold.


It has proven to be either a flop of a tuna season or simply six weeks late.

Albacore are starting to show in cube trails but the big yellowfin have been annoyingly scarce. A few school fish to 30kg have been captured but with no regularity. Bait – striped tuna, acres of frigate mackerel and sauries – have been abundant but the tuna still fail to show.

Let’s hope this will be the month for yellowfin with the added lure of a jumbo southern bluefin to keep us going.

Down south, crews have been experiencing amazing action on numerous blues over 100kg so fingers crossed we see some serious barrels arrive in our waters again this year.

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