Unfortunately we’ve reached that time of year when trying to score a few fish can be a difficult task.
Although the days are getting slightly longer, the cold will get stronger and that means the fishing isn’t about to improve.
However, if you can strike a half-decent patch of weather and specifically target traditional Winter species it’s still possible to get some line stretched.
Blackfish really are our main Winter species on the Central Coast, so if you’re scratching your head about what to try to catch I strongly suggest giving them a go.
The next question is whether to try the rocks or estuary for blackfish?
That mainly depends on what your preferred environment is and some of us, like me, enjoy both forms.
At this time of year we also have the problem of big seas one week, followed by dead flat conditions the next and both can make rock fishing difficult.
While our estuary fishing doesn’t have those problems, we may cop some mid-Winter flooding, which tends to wipe out things for a week or two. Or those westerly winds could clear up the water too much. Ah, the joys of Winter!
Drummer are probably a better option if you’re not into fiddling around with light line and intricate rigs.
I like to fish with bread bait around the washes with what I call middleweight gear, so it’s possible to catch a mixed bag of drummer, blackfish and bream at the same time.
The main outfit I’ve put to work over the years for this style of fishing is a custom-built GP3145G rod with an Alvey 475A5E reel spooled with 5kg mono line.
Some of the bigger drummer are a handful and a few bust-ups are to be expected, but it’s a pretty good outfit for Winter rock fishing and is still perfect for more traditional float fishing for blackfish.
Although pigs can be caught right along the Central Coast, my favourite area for them is the Munmorah State Conservation area and the southern side of Catherine Hill Bay.
Some spots can be a bit of a walk and some are also a bit dicey if the seas are rough, but generally it’s not too hard to find a spot to try for drummer in most conditions.
If, however, the seas are really pumping it’s just not worth taking any risks so the lakes or beaches may be a better idea.
Bream are always available at this time of year, but the better class of fish will be found along the rocks and beaches.
Apart from bread bait, cubes of salted tailor and bonito are very good, as are pillies, but the tailor and bonito are far more picker-resistant.
Crabs and cunjevoi are other good bream baits. The biggest bream I’ve ever caught from the beach had two whole clumps of cunje in its gut and it took a big squid bait, so they’re not too fussy as long as the bait is of decent size.
Back inside Brisbane Water and the lakes, most of the bream will be towards the lower reaches down deep or up in the creeks.
As I mentioned last month, it’s probably a good idea to concentrate lower down at places like The Entrance or The Rip and fish with light line to score more bites.
The clearer the water, the lighter you may need to go but my version of light is 2kg fluorocarbon.
The smaller Gulps and metal blades will most likely be the better lures to use and they should be worked nice and slowly, close to the bottom.
Of course, natural baits like peeled prawns, pink nippers, bloodworms or mullet gut are also effective, especially after sunset or very early in the morning.
Salmon will be out in force this month and while the majority of them may be grouping up about a kilometre from shore, a lot will be swimming around the rocks and along the beaches.
Pillies on ganged hooks are always the best thing to use if you want to catch salmon at the beach but if you’re in a boat and want to have some fun, it’s hard to go past a 3” or 4” Berkley Power Minnow fished on a lightweight jig head.
If you’re right next to a patch of salmon, simply cast out and let the plastic sink down and hang on. Most of the time they’ll grab it as it’s sinking but sometimes a fast retrieve is required to get them to bite.
Snapper should be closer to shore this month, especially just after a few days of pounding seas.
On the other hand, if those westerlies have blown the ocean flat and clear, then it’s probably best to target the reds in depths of at least 40m.
It still surprises me how very few local anglers use soft plastics on our snapper. So many people have the idea that snapper fishing on the Central Coast is too tough to try plastics.
Rubbish, I say! Get out there at the crack of dawn with a 5”-7” plastic and don’t be too surprised if a 6kg fish is the result.
Kingfish and bonito will be wider out again, mainly around Texas or the Perch Grounds.
I haven’t been out there for a while but I strongly suspect those mongrel seals and sharks will pester you and the sharks in particular seem to have a preference for kingfish.
Yes, there are problems associated with fishing out wide but some days it can be brilliant, with fish hitting jigs one after another. Strike it on a good day and your arms will be a bit longer by the time you’re ready to head back in.Reads: 2205