I love Winter fishing not for the early starts, the bitterly cold winds or even the fantastic fish on offer. No, I love winter fishing because only the dedicated anglers make the most of it.
I know I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true. At this time of year there are fewer people on the water. Certainly the numbers of leisure craft are down and the majority of crews on the water are keen fishos out to make the best of the fishing.
It’s a more pleasurable experience without the Wally factor of boats and jet skis zooming around.
This month estuary fishing concentrates to the lower reaches with bream, luderick, mulloway and flathead the primary targets.
For those keen to fish after dark in the cold night air, bream will be hard to beat. Fresh slab baits and large chunks of pilchards fished along the coal walls will account for some large bream this month.
Like any fishing, though, the key is to fish as light as you possibly can and to present baits as naturally as possible. Drifting them down the edge of the wall is vital to enticing the bigger fish to lead the pack and show his mates he’s the alpha male in the school.
Lure anglers will do well fishing lightly weighted soft plastics along the coal walls also during daylight ours. Mixing up the presentations and varying the plastics will ensure you quickly crack a pattern that the fish will like.
Getting the lure as close to the wall is always a good starting point but don’t dismiss using your sounder and seeing if the fish are holding out from the wall, as is often the case in colder months.
School mulloway have been lurking in the Hastings River in good numbers and plenty of fish have been encountered as by-catch when chasing flathead and bream.
Deeper spots seem to be the key to finding fish and another vital component is structure. In most cases the structure is holding the mulloway’s food source and when a bait or lure is presented they can’t resist.
Whole poddy mullet are irresistible and a 4”-5” soft plastic shad will also be effective.
Best spots to start this month are along the wall and the entrance to the canals and Dennis Bridge.
Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of flathead as by-catch although if you’re just after a feed of flathead then you can’t beat working the flats for some good table fish.
This time of year flathead are throughout the system and can be found in shallow water looking for some warmth.
I don’t mind heading up river and fishing around Rawdon Island Bridge and Little Rawdon Island around the shallow edges with deep drop-offs nearby. The flathead lie in the warmer shallows ready to pounce on anything that comes along.
The only drawback at this time of year is that they are lethargic and tend to take only those baits and lures presented right in front of their noses.
So covering an area thoroughly is vital. I like to pick a location and pepper the bank, making precise casts every 30cm-40cm and diligently working the lure back to the boat, ensuring I stay in contact with the bottom for as long as possible.
This month luderick anglers soak in the sun’s warmth as they wait for the run-in tide to target their prey. At this time of year green weed works best but luderick are also very keen on yabbies and peeled prawns. The only downfall can be that small bream steal these baits.
Best spots on the rising tide will be along the southern breakwall on the Hastings River and the rocky bank in Stingray Creek at Henry Kendall Reserve, Laurieton.
Those wanting to walk the beach or climb the rocks will do well with tailor and bream this month.
Already this Winter tailor numbers are up and some quality bream are coming off Lighthouse Beach and should continue to do so this month. Best baits will be whole pilchards and beach worms.
Tailor have a tendency to be fickle in daylight hours so early morning and late afternoon sessions are the key.
Bream, on the other hand, don’t seem to be so fussy at this time of year and will readily feed during the day and at night if the conditions suit them.
North Beach and Tacking Point will be top spots for tailor. As for the bream, deep gutters normally form along Lighthouse and Dunbogan beaches at this time of year and if you don’t mind a walk then you’ll increase your chances of finding fish.
If you have a 4WD then please ensure you have the proper council permits and watch the tides. Lighthouse Beach has some nasty sand cliffs at the moment and I’d hate to see someone get caught by the waves on a high tide.
Offshore angling has been a hot and cold, with snapper not in their usual numbers one day and then the next day going berserk. Hopefully this month they’ll move in and become more consistent.
Best baits will be pilchards and squid and any 5”-7” soft plastic that you can get to the bottom.
Best places to start have been off Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills with Petersons Reef wide from the golf course also producing fish.
So rug up, brave the cold and enjoy some fishing this month. I’ll be getting in as many sessions I can to enjoy the serenity on the water without being bombarded with a barrage of leisure craft zooming around.
Just remember to take what you need, not your limit, and preserve our fishery for years to come.Reads: 802