Winter highs and lows
  |  First Published: July 2013

It is shaping up to be a really good Winter with lots of quality fish on offer for those willing to brave the elements.

Over recent weeks I have experienced the highs and lows, to the very low, on a run of Winter kingfish the likes of which I had never seen.

Some anglers had been scoring some really nice 8kg-12kg kings over the reefs off places like Moruya, Broulee and Durras but I hadn't had the opportunity to head out in search of them, apart from a few kayak missions that produced nothing.

That all changed one leisurely Sunday morning. I was having a lazy cuppa in bed reading a book when I got the phone call: “Get ya kayak and get here now, they're on! Zzzzzzzzzzz! Gotta go, Gavin's on again!"

By the time I got on the water the boys had three 10kg fish on board the canoe, yep in a canoe. Just 50m off the beach.

So my second cast with a big Zorro CB One stickbait resulted in 18kg-20kg of supercharged kingfish barrelling out of the water straight at me, all the way to the rod tip.

Let me assure you, it is a mighty scary thing in a 10’ kayak. I actually ended up pulling the lure away from the fish, which would have rolled me in the blink of an eye.

Meanwhile, another kayak angler was at the 30-minute mark on a solid fish, only to lose it to a seal that showed up seemingly out of nowhere.

Despite there being literally hundreds of fish averaging 10kg, it required many lure changes and different retrieves to get a hook-up. Finally I succeeded with a Shimano Ocea stickbait.

The fight lasted a good 20 minutes before I pinned the fish in the gill plate with a short-handled gaff. The beaten fish lay from my waist to just past my feet, 1.10m at least and a new first to tick off the list. Stoked!

But then it gave one solid kick of the tail, bounced back into the water, rolled off the gaff, shook the lure and casually swam off!

My wife could clearly hear my expletives from the beach. The rest of the five-hour session proved fishless despite multiple surface hits and the odd pulled hook.

The following weekend I jumped on board Rohan Griffin, 6m CruiseCraft and we went 1-1 on the kings. I got my butt handed to me on the same stickbait and 80lb braid.

I was not even close to slowing another brute that kept the lure and most of my heavy leader.

Ro evened the score with a 10kg fish that ate a slow-trolled slimy mackerel.


The next day we were back on the reef for round two. The swell had kicked significantly but nothing we weren't used to.

With half the bait supply in the tank, all was going according to plan. All that changed in the blink of an eye when we went to motor away from the bait reef for the fifth time.

The engine went inexplicably dead and the wind was pushing us into 1.5m of breaking waves. There was no point throwing the anchor, we were too close. So I manned the oar, which seemed to be working.

I could see the reef disappear with each stroke but then the boat began to move in the opposite direction as the approaching set sucked us in.

All we could do was to brace for impact as the first wave pitched over the motor and hit me square in the chest.

Fortunately the CruiseCraft was pointing to shore so we didn’t roll.

Three more waves surfed us high, dry and unharmed. It took the help of at least 30 volunteers the best part of a whole day to get the boat positioned as the tide fell, with cut logs as rollers and truck tyres as cushions.

We were indescribably lucky to come away unscathed in body and boat. 

It just goes to show how quickly things on the ocean can turn nasty. ‘Safety is no accident’ is a great motto to live by.


There should be some quality jewfish prowling the rivers and inshore coast this month. Fish to 10kg have been reported and I expect fish of twice that to show up soon. 

Some of our estuaries have also been home to tailor pushing 80cm on the shallow flats where you would target whiting. On light gear and small poppers, this kind of fishing is pretty hard to top. 

Snapper also will be really hitting fever pitch and the cuttlefish run will only boost the action.

Whether you like plastics or bait, from the shore or from a boat, it won't matter. This is the month to have a real shot at a 6kg plus fish. 

Already a bunch of solid reds to 7kg have been landed and several have even been released, which is to be applauded.

Rock blackfish and big bream will be prowling the washes and the easiest way to get into the action is to use cooked prawns on a mid-weight braid outfit, 10kg leader and a small but strong chemically sharpened hook.  

Yellowfin and bluefin tuna will be big drawcards and some big fish have already made their presence felt.

Quality 60kg-80kg fish will certainly warm up the body. 

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