As usual in early August there is one thing on most offshore anglers minds, and that is big, hungry snapper. I say it every year but how can you not when they are so popular and so good to target.
The cuttlefish have been copping it for the past few weeks from the snapper and we’ve been reaping the benefits with some really good catches on both bait and plastics. As always for best results pick a reef north of Wollongong –any reef it really doesn’t matter. Get out early and put in a bit of berley and you should get a few if not plenty of quality snapper.
Stay in close in 15m of water or less and keep the weight to an absolute minimum, with no sinker at all if you can get away with it. In most cases there is very little current to contend with in shallow water.
Cuttlefish candles are the best bait but a strip of back flesh isn’t far behind. Keep away from the tentacles as they are very tough and the fish don’t seem to like it as much.
If you can’t get cuttlefish then half pilchards go alright as does a cube of fresh striped tuna. Casting baits at the floating cuttlefish often produces the larger fish.
Take your time, slowly approach the cuttlefish into the wind, stay at maximum casting range and turn off your motor; don’t idle. Noise is your enemy in shallow water.
If you get your bait in the target area and there is a fish feeding you will get a hook-up on most occasions. Make sure you take your time fighting good fish, because if you break off a good fish early in the day, they often bolt taking the whole school with them.
Snapper are not the only critters hanging about under cuttlefish; groper will often be encountered and are usually called for massive snapper that smash you in seconds but the experienced angler can tell the difference in the run It doesn’t matter because a groper will smash experienced anglers too when hooked on their terms. They can be taken easier when you target them on your terms though, but chance encounters are always stacked in favour of the groper.
Trevally and Samson fish find cuttlefish pieces irresistible too and are often taken when the baits get deeper and there are always a few salmon and tailor on the chew as well. Also expect kingfish, rock cod, sergeant baker, leatherjacket and wrasse.
In other angling news there are plenty of reddies about over all the reefs, but the flathead chasers will do it tough as they seem to be all tucked up in the sand with only a few showing any interest in baits. There are plenty of leatherjackets and sweep with a good showing of pigfish coming in.
There hasn’t been much in the way of yellowfin tuna over the past weeks and only the odd report of bluefin from the New Zealand border. They are usually around till around September so there’s still a chance.
Plenty of gemfish, trevalla and the odd hapuku are around the Kiama canyons if you have a sizable boat and good weather and need the exercise, although the electric reels seem to be very popular these days making the retrieve much less demanding.
Salmon are also schooling on the surface taking small lures and plastics. Just look for the birds hovering over the schools. Seagulls mean salmon, so it’s good to have a rod rigged in case you stumble upon a school.
Trevally are around in good numbers and if you don’t want to sit and berley for them over the reefs, then small plastics cast under the feeding salmon will score plenty of takers. Be prepared to lose a few lures to the good old barracouta. They can be fun when a school goes berserk but for the most part are a nuisance taking your lures with those razor sharp teeth.
There are heaps of salmon on most rock ledges taking ganged pilchards either cast and retrieved or under the old bobby cork. Trevally will respond to berley along with a few bream and the odd snapper.
The washes on most headlands have good drummer taking both royal red prawns and cabbage weed under a float. The northern platforms are worth a look.
Live baiting is a bit slow but there is the odd good king about for the persistent anglers fishing live squid on the deeper ledges down south.
The beaches are firing if you like more salmon. They seem to be everywhere and it really doesn’t matter what you throw at them they are eating it. A few tailor are in the gutters during the evenings and the odd school jewie is popping up around the place, but there are a lot of hours going in for meagre results at the moment.
In the estuaries there are bream up in the feeder streams of the Macquarie and Mullet creeks but it is cold work getting them with the westerlies pushing through off the snow. Peeled prawns cast amongst the snags will get results as will small lures.
Down at the entrances there are a few good flathead in the deeper holes and they will increase in numbers over the coming months. At the entrance to the lake there are more salmon. The Breakwalls are a good spot to target with lures and pilchards.Reads: 2002