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The clever diehards survive
  |  First Published: June 2013



Now it starts to get a little tougher and with the onset of the cold weather, it will get to the point where only the diehards will make an effort.

Some of the better catches will come from shore-based anglers, quite often in atrocious conditions.

Winter is the time for big blows from the south and the west.

The westerlies calm the ocean for a while before the swell comes back with a vengeance, while the southerlies make for an instant ugly ocean that only gets nastier the more the wind howls.

This is when the clever and creative anglers look for the protected little coves, inlets and harbours to chase the bream, blackfish, drummer and trevally that take refuge from the boiling ocean outside.

This is also the time when the idiots fish the open rock platforms and get washed in and drown, putting their rescuers at risk as well. If there is any swell, stay off the open ocean rocks and live to fish another day.

Back in the sheltered coves and harbours, it can be shoulder to shoulder as the blackfish really get on the chew.

It can be hard to get good green weed at this time of the year but there is some around and it’s well worth the effort for a good catch of blackfish and drummer.

There are plenty of good places all along the coast, with the obvious being the harbours. Bellambi, although small and protected only by a breakwall, is a gun blackfish spot when the sea gets big. You even have a jetty to fish from on one side and the road wall on the other – safe as houses.

At Wollongong Harbour, the inside of the western wall and around the little lighthouse are good spots for blackfish, while near the boat ramp is good for bream.

Port Kembla Harbour breakwalls on the inside are great blackfish spots and with a bit of bread berley there are bream, drummer and trevally on offer. If you must put the boat in, it is protected for a bit of soft plastic work around the walls for bream and jewies and, at times, a few big trevally, tailor and salmon.

Shellharbour has blackfish from its walls and bream in the evenings, with good old prawns doing the job on the bream.

Kiama Harbour has again the reliable blackfish in a storm with bream on prawns and fish strips, or you can even spin up a few tailor and salmon in the evenings close to the entrance wall on the eastern side.

In all these places it is safe and you won’t even get wet unless it rains, which it generally does in the big storms.

Spread out also between all the above spots are little coves and protected spots which fish at times better than the harbours. All you need to do is look.

When the ocean is calm there are some nice trevally on the deeper ledges. A bread berley will also bring any drummer into the area along with bream, so there are a few fish still on the stones.

Salmon seem to be on most rock ledges with good old pillies on a three-hook ganged rig hard to beat.

THE LAKE

For an even safer option when the seas get angry the lake and Minnamurra are still worth a look, particularly around the entrance to the lake and the southern breakwall.

On high tide the salmon and tailor keep on coming in through the entrance so casting metals should be fun around dusk and dawn.

At night there are bream along the walls and you don’t have to try and cast to the other side.

Try just a split shot on light line and a prawn for bait. Cast it up-current and let it come back to you right next to the wall, while all the time just taking up the slack line. You get the odd snag but you get a lot of bream.

If you get a legal (30cm) tailor then send it back out with a big hook because June is big jewie time and you know how the ones get under the bridge? They swim up along the wall.

In the lake proper there are bream around the islands and the weed beds along Primbee way. If the pros haven’t given them a flogging, there should be plenty there.

Minnamurra is worth a shot around the entrance for a jewie and some bream but the rest of the system will be quiet.

BEACHES

On the beaches it is mega-jewie time with the big high tides during the evenings giving them plenty of water to get right in close. Try a slab of fresh tailor or blackfish or slimy mackerel, as long as it is caught that day and kept on ice, or a fresh squid if you can get one.

You may score a fish on a piece of salted yakka but fresh bait multiplies your chances 100-fold.

Just about any beach along the coast with a good gutter is worth a shot; go for a drive at lunchtime to pick your spot for the evening session.

OFFSHORE

There are limited ocean options because we are in between prime times. A few cuttlefish will start to show up and the odd good snapper will be caught but don’t get too far ahead because the main body of snapper are still a few weeks away yet. But it is still fun trying.

Trevally seem to be about but they are mostly small so far. In close around most headlands there are the ever-reliable salmon and even the odd stray legal kingfish around the islands.

Local game fishos will be hoping for the appearance of the southern bluefin tuna, which I am sure will be carefully tracked if they do show. Fish to 150kg are something else and on all game anglers’ bucket lists.

There have been a few yellowfin out wide on the continental shelf but not in great numbers or size, but that can change any time.

Albacore shouldn’t be too far away but you need good weather to tackle any tuna at this time of the year.

It is lean pickings for the bottom bouncers because the flathead have slowed and leatherjackets in their millions mob you in a short time.

A few mowies and small snapper are around the edges of the reefs and some pigfish are over the reefs, but it can be tough going.

ANOTHER FATALITY

Just as I finished this report, another angler has been washed in from the notorious Honeycomb rocks at Port Kembla and drowned. This spot is dangerous in normal conditions but on the day it was a solid 2m-3m with 4 m sets.

Some of the anglers fishing the calm bay only 100m away said it was ‘suicidal’ fishing there that day. The day prior it was 6m-plus and impossible to fish.

Why do they fish these places when there are so many other obvious safe spots within a stone’s throw?

Forget lifejackets or any other safety device; sometimes there just has to be some commonsense involved. The waves would have been regularly pounding over the platform more than chest deep. I just don’t know. – GC

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