Winter water is cold, clear and often calm, which creates some problems with wary fish but also presents some great opportunities for sight fishing.
I don’t think there is a better feeling in fishing than to have sighted your quarry and stalked it to the final outcome fooling it into taking an artificial or natural bait, and once captured, having the choice to release or keep it.
Offshore winds allow anglers a chance to patrol the beaches looking for schools of salmon. These come within range for anyone wishing to cast a lure.
The thrill is anticipating which way these fish are travelling and then making long casts just in front of them with metal lures. Plenty of action is the result.
The better beaches for this are the northern end of Tathra Main, Gillards Beach a few kilometres north, and one of my favourites, Bournda, south of Wallagoot Lake. Here there is a small island accessible at low tide which will give anglers a vantage point and fish access from the rocks.
Another place anglers can regularly sight-fish from is the historic local wharf on Tathra’s main headland.
Here you can observe all types of small baitfish like slimy mackerel, yellowtail, mullet, silver trevally, garfish or even squid.
Garfish are particularly good fun when you can spot them from above. Then all you need is a light rod with a small float, split shot and No 10-12 hook baited with a little bit of peeled prawn. Entice them with a little berley with a tuna oil base.
Luderick can also be observed from the wharf, rolling on their sides as they graze on cabbage weed along the rocky shore. They also make for interesting sight fishing where anglers using floats watch as these herbivores inhale a piece of weed.
The Bega River is now closed to the ocean so with no tidal movement and the calm weather, it is imperative to employ stealth if you are going to have any success sight fishing in this system.
All the major estuary species are trapped there but are not feeding as regularly as they do in the warmer months. But they have to feed at some time and this is when anglers need to pounce.
Flathead are likely to be in the extreme shallow margins close to the ocean, where winter frosts have less effect on water temperatures.
You will need to proceed very slowly if you are to observe these fish or you’ll spook them.
If they are tight up against the shore and you are fishing from a boat you may even need to place your lure on the bank and work it gently back into the water; it may not always work but when it does, it is exciting.
Bream can also be regularly sight-fished. Focus on rocky areas or midstream gravel/shale, where these fish are intent on finding a stray crab, shrimp, oyster or mussel.
Bait may be a better option, cast on ultralight gear with little to no sinker. Prawns, nippers or squirt worms would be my choice on fluorocarbon around 4lb.
You may even find other species lurking in these areas like luderick, trevally, mullet or even estuary perch. EPs should be immediately returned to the water until closed season ends on September 1.