Cold weather noticeably reduces fishing activity on the Mid North Coast and for locals, the throng of holidaymakers in the warmer times ebb to a barely noticeable trickle of strangers.
Much of the Winter fishing is done during daylight hours, though early morning starts and the prayer of a warming sunrise are enough to get some anglers out of comfortable beds.
There are still plenty of bream in the lake and a few stubborn big bream are holding on the snags and rocky shores of the rivers.
Many of the bream have made the run to the coast and increasing numbers of big bream are coming in off the beaches and rocks. Schools of bream often travel with the mullet that passed the pros’ nets in April and May and these gather along the headlands and at the ends of the beaches.
Low light periods at either end of the day are the best times to fish for the bream, though they are often caught throughout the day, especially as by-catch when fishing for pigs.
Targeting the bream on the beaches at night will produce good numbers, while worm and squid baits have been nailing plenty of school jew. There seem to be heaps of jew along the beaches and they too often follow the mullet schools and a bait cast in their way has a good chance of being eaten.
The beaches also offer the sport of the salmon and tailor that have pushed up from the south. Early reports of big tailor around Seal Rocks mean these fish should have pushed up to the Palms and Bennetts Head by now.
While many like to throw pilchards and garfish baits for the tailor I love to spin for them with surface poppers. Metal lures, too, are very effective on the tailor and the further you can cast, the more water you will cover and perhaps reach the schools hanging a little wider.
Ensure the reel spool is as full as you can safely make it and the use of braided line will increase casting distance and your chances of fish.
The pigs have come on strong and after a poor showing last year, these mainstays of the high tide rock fishing are only too willing to snag a prawn, cunjevoi or bread bait.
The rocks at Burgess and Blueys beaches are good spots to target. Any crevice or deeper water with wash cover is worth a throw.
Blackfish can be targeted along the rocks with great success. Casting yabbies in a safe location at night is the way to collect a good bag of blackfish but weed under floats from rocks such as those at the north end of Elizabeth Beach can be successful, too.
The run of blackfish on the breakwall has suffered from the constant flushing of freshwater but they are still there during the run-out tide and are being targeted by the locals.
The breakwall jewfish have been spasmodic with live bait the best chance of a fish. Large bream are still stealing those live baits and altering the rig and style of fishing will score plenty of bream up to 45cm, around 1.5kg, so they are worth fishing for.
The lower lake is still producing flathead to 60cm but you will have to work for them.
They are mostly scattered around the oyster leases and are caught as a mixed bag with bream and leatherjackets.
Bait fishing is a very relaxing and productive way to target the fish, although casting soft plastics is far more active.
Anyone who wants a quick and easy meal should try the eastern side of Wallis Lake with fish baits or squid for the numbers of leatherjackets that seem to collect there during the Winter.
There will also be a lot of pesky juvenile snapper and bream but there also are some big flathead that are attracted by the small fish activity.
Big bream can be found holding over the weed flats of the lake and baits suspended over the weed will find the fish more receptive than anchoring it in the weed.
Finding sand patches and dropping baits into them can be very productive for the bream and fan-belly leatherjackets.
For my money I’d be concentrating on the beaches and rocks or close inshore this month. The seas should be settled and provide an easy fish offshore, where flathead and snapper will be on the list.Reads: 3367