You can’t beat warm water to really kick the fishing along. From the estuaries and beaches to the offshore speedsters, everything seems to get better as the water temperature rises.
The beach fishos do it tough through the cooler months, with the icy westerlies cutting like a knife and freezing them to the bone, but now they can dangle their toes in the water and really get some rewards for their efforts.
Whiting are the prime targets and they are on just about every beach, schooling at the edges of the gutters and just waiting for some fresh beach worms to come their way.
Port Kembla and Warilla beaches are always prime spots because nearby Lake Illawarra is the No 1 nursery for whiting in this area.
They pour out over Summer and move along the coast in both directions, looking to fatten up for later in the season.
But there are plenty of other fish available. You just need a few worms and some mackerel fillets or pilchards and you can expect just about anything for the next few months.
There are heaps of nice flathead all along the coast and they are not fussy about what they eat. An afternoon or morning session flicking soft plastics will pay dividends on flatties and also school jew, salmon and even big bream.
Bait is still the best option for bream, salmon, dart, trevally and solid tailor in the evenings on most beaches with good gutters.
Then there are the jewies from dusk into the dark. Most are in the schoolie range from 3kg to 8kg but there are fish up to 20kg. Just keep the bait fresh and be persistent.
There has been a sensational run of prawns in the lake and that means the flatties will be on the chew. The main channel and the drop-off always produce plenty.
Live prawns are scoring heaps of fish but they take a hiding from the small bream. Although soft plastics score well, they take a hiding from the chopper tailor.
Don’t forget the Deans Bait & Tackle Wollongong Sportfishing Club Flathead Classic on January 15. It’s open to all and there are great family prizes – see Deans for details.
The feeder streams and quiet bays of the lake hold heaps of fun for the kids in the form of garfish and mullet.
Fish from one of the many jetties or stream banks or anchor in a quiet spot out of the wind. Berley with bran from the pet food shop and use fresh bread or small pieces of peeled prawn for bait under a float with a small hook. You’ll keep the ankle-biters amused for ages.
Some nice bream can be taken on live prawns in the creeks and along the rocky areas lake shore during the day, and at night around the bridge pylons.
Also hanging around the pylons in the evenings are some nice jewies but you have to work for them; they are not there all the time. A live tailor off the end of the lake breakwalls might be a better option.
Big whiting are on the sand flats east of the bridge and they will react to poppers if the boat traffic is light and they love squirt worms any time.
Solid salmon are around the breakwalls when the jet skis are not, and blackfish are starting to gather along the ribbon weed beds.
Don’t forget there are plenty of blue swimmers crawling all over the lake. Witches’ hats are the way to go for these.
The rocks are going well with some ripper kings patrolling the deep ledges around Kiama early mornings. Live squid, if you can get them, are the bait of choice but large live slimy mackerel or frigates will do very well, too.
If you miss the kings, hang about because the next six to eight weeks is marlin time off the rocks for those persistent enough to keep a live bait out in deeper water. Kiama Blowhole Point, Marsdens and Bombo are the places to be for the best chance.
While you are waiting there are plenty of rat kings to keep you busy along with salmon, a few early frigates (great marlin bait) and plenty of bonito.
Offshore just gets better each week. Striped, tuna, bonito, salmon, trevally and kings are boiling on the surface.
Casting small lures into the schools or working plastics down under the schools for snapper can keep you busy all day.
When the schools of small slimy mackerel appear on the bait reefs, you know the black marlin aren’t far behind.
They will be over the close reefs like Bandit and Wollongong and out over the continental shelf any day now.
Quite a few striped marlin have been taken out wide and the big blues will be there as well.
When chasing stripes, the Trap Reef is a good place to start slow trolling live mackerel in 60 fathoms while keeping a close eye on the sounder for deep bait balls.
If you find the bait, work that area with your livies and if any stripes are about it shouldn’t be long before your reel starts ticking over.
Mahi mahi, wahoo, spearfish, yellowfin tuna and even stray sailfish will all come out to play. There have been some good yellowfin taken out wide over the shelf but there tend be more school fish up to 30kg in the warmer water.
The FADs are holding a few small dollies but that will change as the current pours warmer water down the coast. Remember, we are allocated only one FAD for the thousands of anglers who pay their fees so be polite. A couple more would be nice to spread the load but we have been saying that for years.
There are plenty of kings up to 15kg at Bass Point, the islands and Bellambi but this year they shown no consistency. Maybe things will change this month when the current gets going.
Sand flathead of 45cm and more are about in droves up north, off Port Kembla and down off Bombo and Kiama.
Small snapper have been active in 30m to 40m with good catches coming from the Wollongong Reef area. Most fish are under 2kg and lightly weighted fillets of mackerel and half pilchards are getting them.
Small hammerheads and whalers are starting to become a nuisance in the berley and can shut down a bite if they get too aggressive.
Also in the berley are a few small samson and the odd trag, while the drifters are getting a smattering of mowies and pigfish.Reads: 3335