As we slide into Winter some anglers slow down their activities but if you fish to the conditions and target certain species, you will find that the colder months can be spectacular.
Bream numbers in the estuary are excellent and it’s just a matter of deciding whether to target them on bait or lures.
If you prefer your bait fishing then I suggest you fish those early morning or evening tides among the many oyster racks throughout the bay. Anchor parallel to the racks and cast unweighted baits such as mullet gut, mullet fillet or even a cube of pilchard to the edge of the rack.
Make sure you use the lightest fluorocarbon leader possible. I like to start with around 6lb and work from there.
Those who are land based should try the rock walls such as those at the Anchorage Marina or Nelson Bay. Use much the same technique but you may need to add just a small sinker, around a 0 or 00 ball, straight above the hook. The key is to keep it simple.
Lure fishers can work the same areas around Soldiers Point and Tilligerry Creek.
Working shallow-diving hardbodies along the edges of the racks is a deadly technique for larger bream but be prepared to loose the odd lure in this tiger country.
If you finding losing hardbodies is hurting the back pocket, tossing soft plastics around the rock walls will yield just as many fish, although not possibly as large.
Fish the points and edges that are influenced by tidal movement, because schooling bream tend to sit in the current waiting for the food to come to them.
Luderick fishers have been lining up along the breakwall at Nelson Bay, where some real horses well over 1.5kg have been landed. The younger generations using more modern fast graphite rods, spin reels and fluorocarbon leaders are giving the older gentlemen a run for their money.
It’s a very similar story from the ocean rocks, where luderick school in the sheltered bays from Fingal to Boat Harbour.
When the westerly winds blow this can be fun fishing and you will find on those bright sunny days tucked away from the wind that it’s almost shorts and T-shirt weather.
You don’t have to fish traditionally, either: I find a small oval float with bread as bait is just as effective and you will encounter some tasty by-catch, including bream and drummer.
Early mornings around the rocky points, including the southern end of Box Beach and One Mile Point, you will also find some solid tailor and bonito.
Tossing fresh garfish or brined pilchards on ganged hooks is the best way of targeting both species but don’t forget those metal spinners.
Also make sure you have a squid jig on standby; the calmer bays also yield some terrific squid at this time of year.
Beach fishing is a bit of mixed bag but most gutters will hold some bream. Sunrise and sunset on a rising tide are best, use fresh mullet fillets.
You can try any of the beaches from Hawks Nest to Birubi and you don’t need a 4WD. Some of the local beaches such as Box, Fingal and One Mile are the most productive.
You will also find tailor and salmon mixed in and during the day salmon schools can be seen cruising the gutters and these fish make for great fun on light spin gear.
Although the warmer waters from the north are turning around, some pelagic species can still be caught inshore.
June traditionally marks the end of the migration of longtail tuna but if the water is still slightly warm and the baitfish are prolific then the longtails should still linger. Anchoring and fishing the headlands and shallower reefs with live bait suspended under torpedo floats is the best way of targeting these speedsters.
Snapper will be found on the shallower reefs from 5m to 20m. The Sisters at the southern end of Broughton Island is always a favourite with locals and with good reason – some real thumper snapper to 10kg are caught in this area through Winter.
Similar reefs can be found south around Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay.