With the water temperature holding higher than average, there is a fair chance that there could still be a few big straggler kings hanging around this month.
Winter kings are generally bigger than average so make sure you are geared up for them. Big live squid are the best bait at this time of year and there should be plenty to be found around the kelp beds. Use big squid jigs, sizes 3.5-4, to work the deeper kelp beds.
John dory have been on the chew on live bait in the deep water. The best livies are small reef fish like mado and sweep, with the spikier fish being better baits.
Dory have a great knack of being able to spit baits and miss the hook but they have more trouble regurgitating spiky fish.
Yakkas are easy to catch but do not make great dory bait because they are so easy to spit out.
The best spots to find dory are areas where lots of small reef fish congregate, like around moorings, reef edges and jetties.
They prefer water anywhere from 20’-80’ and tend to bite around the tide turns, with the turn of high better.
To set baits, send your rig to the bottom without the bait on. Let your sinker hit bottom and then lift it 2m up and set the rod in the holder with the reel in gear. From here you pull the line up by hand, pin the live bait and send it back down.
If you try to set the depth with the live bait on you’ll find a lot of difficulty in making contact with the bottom because the bait will keep swimming after the sinker has hit bottom – it’s critical that it is set at the right depth.
Best spots at the moment are Neilson Park, Watsons Bay, Fairlight Point, the Centurion wreck and Reef Beach.
Flatties have been around in huge numbers this year, in fact the best I can remember, and are nailing lures around the sandy mooring areas up the back of most of the lower Harbour bays.
Flatties have the reputation of being poor sport fish, which holds true when using bait techniques, but can be totally disregarded when they are targeted with lures.
The skill, thrill and anticipation involved in hunting flatties on lures is little different from that of any other predatory species including the tropical glamour fish. Although the fight from a lure-caught flathead bears little resemblance to that of the northern mangrove inhabitants, it is a huge improvement over that of a flathead caught on bait.
Some of the best areas in the Harbour to lure for flatties include: the shallows of Rose Bay, the banks around the mouth of Rushcutters Bay and North Harbor. The best times to work these areas in Winter is on the run-in tide. It’s even better if this tide occurs early morning or late afternoon.
Flathead congregate around channel edges, rock bars, weed banks and sand/mud bank drop-offs. They also like to lie in the shadows of moored boats.
You won’t find flathead on your sounder but if you can locate schools of small baitfish then these will invariably have flatties hanging around.
A single-handed spinning or light baitcasting outfit loaded with 3kg-4kg line will handle any flathead provided you use a more substantial trace of about 10kg.
Flathead will hit almost anything that swims past their faces. With the emphasis on presenting the lure close to the fish, depth capabilities are the major consideration when choosing a lure for flatties.
Considering you will be fishing depths ranging from 1’-40’, you'll need quite a large selection of lures should you opt for diving minnow styles.
A more versatile and possibly more effective option is to carry two types of soft plastic lures. For 1’-4’ a stick bait like the Slug-Go is deadly on flatties, especially around weed.
To cover all depths it’s hard to go past a jig head of the appropriate weight rigged for a soft plastic like a Gulp, PowerBait or Tsunami.
Flounder are a welcome by-catch of flattie luring in Winter and generally favour the same areas, although they prefer the deeper sand banks.
If you would like to specifically target flounder, drop down in lure size to something in the vicinity of 5cm.
In Summer the run-out tide brings warm, sun-heated water down from the estuaries and is hence generally the best time to fish.
But in Winter it’s the opposite: the water coming down from upstream is colder than the ocean water due to colder land temps and generally warmer ocean temps.
So the run-in tide, especially near the top of the tide, brings the warmer ocean water and is usually prime time over the cooler months.Reads: 1899