It’s good to see some stability return to the weather and the fishing. Water temps will be at their lowest this month with the upper reaches a chilling 10° and in the lower reaches around 14°.
This won’t stop the fish from feeding, so rug up and head out. I don’t normally expect huge numbers of fish to come over the gunwales this month but those that you do encounter will usually be of a good size.
Jewfish, especially, seem to be larger compared with Summer, when we experienced a lot of 60cm-75cm fish.
The best method to tangle with one of these estuary beasts in the cooler months is with lures. Soft plastics dominate when it comes to lures for jewfish; their versatility and relative snag resistance are just some of the reasons why I use these year after year.
There have been good numbers of 6kg-10kg jewies around Wisemans Ferry lately but they are very lethargic and will come out to feed only at the optimum times. So focus your outings around the tide changes, preferably in the afternoon when the sun has had a chance to add a slight bit of warmth to the water and take the chill from the air.
The bream were hit-and-miss leading into Winter and I feel this may have had something to do with the fresh that concentrated a lot of fish towards the mouth of the system, where the pro netters and trappers smashed the hell out of the population.
There are a few to be caught in the lower reaches this month but they will be sitting deep. Small soft plastics and vibes like the Koolabung X-Ray blades and TT Switchblades from 1/6oz-1/4oz are great for this style of fishing and allow you to get your lure into the strike zone in a reasonable time.
Bait fishos will do well with pudding baits this month, especially if the water has a little colour to it. Berley a little every 15 minutes or so and fish as light as the conditions allow to secure fish to 1kg.
The washes around Barrenjoey and Lion Island will also have some nice bream with the odd drummer and blackfish for those that like to drift-fish the washes with a bread berley and unweighted baits.
In those same washes will be some nice salmon and tailor so it will pay to have an outfit rigged and ready with a metal slice, soft plastic or popper.
Trolling is another productive way of finding a school of active fish but don’t make the mistake of trolling too wide around the washes. The fish you are targeting are right in the aerated, frothy stuff so it makes sense to get in tight – when safe to do so, of course.
Keep your eyes peeled for diving birds around Broken Bay this month as the small baitfish referred to as ‘eyes’ filter back into the estuaries. Salmon and tailor just love to herd these up to the surface and gorge themselves.
Soft plastics like the 2” and 3” Berkeley Minnow and 5g-7g metal slices cast on bream tackle are sure-fire ways of getting sore arms and howling drags.
Normally I would be hearing about the hairtail moving back into Cowan Creek but they have stuck around all Summer (or what we called one) and were surprising anglers up and down the coast. The bulk of these deep denizens will still be in Cowan and can be caught by suspending live or dead baits at different levels of the water column. Alternatively, if you want to stay active, try casting a ganged pilchard or a shallow-running hardbody around your boat to locate active fish in the area.
The bass and estuary perch remain off limits this month but the trout in the gorge are a great substitute.
I’ve been running a few charters up there and my clients have not been disappointed. Casting lures like Tassie devils, suspending hardbodies and Celtas is the best approach to finding a few trout and they have been fantastic on the plate to boot.
Although the air may be cold there are still some good fish about for those willing to put in the effort so rug up and get into it.Reads: 897