With the chill of winter in the air, local anglers are rugging up and enjoying a pretty good run of popular cold water targets.
On the offshore front it's all about snapper and tailor, with both species in good numbers. Those chasing the reds are getting up nice and early and heading up to Grassy Head and beyond, with most of the action in sub 40m of water. Even the very close in reefs only 100m off the beach are well worth a look for big snapper especially right on dawn with lightly weighted lures. Once the sun comes up a bit, slowly edge your way out into the deeper water.
Those heading out to sea and scooting south have been enjoying a great run of solid tailor along the southern headlands and islands. This time of year there's a nice wash and a finger of reef jutting out almost anywhere, and you will most likely find a school of ravenous choppers nearby.
Most locals seem to like slow trolling close to the stones, running a few metal slices and spoons in the 30-50g range. Personally I'd much prefer to sit wide of the stones and cast metal slices and medium sized pencil poppers back to the wash. On a sporty 4-6kg spin rod, spinning tailor is great fun, with the added bonus of being a little further way from the boat destroying rocks! Either way, take plenty of care when on a tailor mission, things can go pear-shaped real quick if you're not on your guard.
Heading south in winter also equals big kingfish. This year I haven't heard of too many big fish coming in, however there’s always a few big bruisers at both Fish Rock and Black Rock. You can also add Green Island as a good spot to look for big kings. An ideal bait at this time of year is live tailor. Troll or spin up a few and either slowly troll or drift fish them around any of the islands. If there's any big kings around you'll soon find out.
Back on terra firma rock and beach anglers have been getting into the tailor also, with some top quality bream also on offer. Most of the tailor crew prefer to spin with a mix of disposable metal lures. The old ganged hooks and pilchards are another popular approach, with about half the block saved for cube fishing the washes for bream. Others like to lob out and slowly wind in solid garfish. These guys certainly seem to get the bigger class of fish.
Back in the Macleay River the lower reaches are starting to turn up some nice bream and blackfish. These classic winter species have only just entered the river system and most of the bream are still very silver. The blackfish are running at a good size and are fit and healthy after being out on the open headlands.
Some sizable mulloway have also come in from the sea. It's been a long wait between drinks but it seems some mulloway have returned. The mullet, bream and blackfish run is no doubt the catalyst for the fresh run of fish. So far the action has been in the lower reaches, with those sending out solid baits of pike, mullet or blackfish scoring some big fish. With a bit of luck the local hauling crews and estuary netters will leave them alone and we can all enjoy some mulloway action.
Despite the cool air and water temps some nice flathead are coming in. Those in the know are heading for the shallow warm country, with Stuarts Point an ideal location to find some sun baking lizards. Any shallow tidal zone with a nice sprinkling of ribbon weed or broken bottom is well worth a look. Drift fishing is popular and allows you to cover loads of ground. Popular baits are simply prawns, whitebait and strips of squid.
Although off limits, the bass are going about their spawning duties and are in good numbers in the brackish zones. Most anglers choose to leave them be, but you will still snare the odd one when up that way looking for bream and school jewfish. If you hook a bass or two when fishing up-river, just let them go asap.Reads: 1212