There are plenty of positive things about Winter here: It lasts only three months and it brings a change of focus offshore, the beaches fire up and estuary species concentrate in the lower reaches.
This month we will see a strong change in focus offshore, with bottom bouncing being one of the main methods for chasing feeding fish.
Snapper will be the primary targets species for most and the usual baits and lures will do the job. However, the outer reefs off Lighthouse will really kick into gear as the inshore reefs start to slow down.
Flathead will also kick into gear offshore this month, with plenty of feeds to be found straight out from the bar in 15m-20m. Baits and plastics hopped along the bottom on slow, steady drifts will account for plenty of flatties.
A few kingfish have been about and the odd samson fish can complete the workout.
And if the kingfish are still about, make sure you visit the gym before heading out because these big boys will really test your strength.
The estuaries have been a hive of activity for baitfish, with the coal walls showing baitfish schooled to the max.
Bream are chock-full of the bait and have been very fussy about lure selection. I’ve found in situations like these it’s a definite match-the-hatch scenario, with small minnow-style soft plastics working best at imitating the baitfish.
However, even smaller plastics also work because the fish are often so full that the smaller presentation is like an after-dinner mint.
Those fishing with bait will do best with whitebait rigged on small ganged hooks or a No 1 long-shank hook with a half-hitch of the line around the tail to keep the bait snug on the hook.
Topwater lures are still working well and should account for some fish this month, although downsizing the lures will be essential in enticing a strike.
Flathead have been hit and miss, possibly because of the freshes and floods earlier in the year.
However, the flatties caught recently have been of good quality, which is good for those looking for a feed but concerns me from a population point of view.
I don’t begrudge anyone taking a family feed, but to take 10-20 flathead, depending on the species, you need to have a pretty big ‘family’. So please take only what you really need, not your limit.
I know to feed my family, three flathead around 40cm is ideal. Rounded out with some spuds and a nice salad, it’s a great feed.
So this month I’ll be targeting my feed by casting 3”-5” plastics along the flats and into troughs and deep holes, working the lure across the bottom and using a heavy enough jig head to keep in contact with the bottom.
Mulloway will also be prolific this month, with plenty of school fish already being caught in the river.
This month they should spread out; find the mullet and you’ll find the mulloway.
Live bait will be hard to beat but presented plastics will also prove successful.
I love using big sandworm plastics on light line; the mulloway seem to love them and it’s awesome fun. The conversion rate can be low but that just adds to the challenge.
Best spots for mulloway in the estuary will be around Rawdon Island Bridge, Dennis Bridge and the North Wall.
Lake Cathie (pronounced ‘cat eye’) has remained open and is living up to expectations, providing decent catches of flathead, bream and whiting.
However, the lure fishing has been tough during daylight hours. With the water super-clear, the whiting are not willing to play the lure game.
However, bait fishing for whiting early morning or late evening and into the night has been excellent with reports of good catches coming from the mouth back up to the Perch Hole. Live yabbies, prawns and worms are the optimum baits.
Lets hope Cathie stays open over Winter and continues to get good tidal flushes.
Make sure you enjoy the chilly morning starts and be thankful you’re not fishing further south or inland this month.Reads: 890