It’s holiday time and the fishing really starts to get cranking from here on in and won’t look like slowing down for the next four months.
Offshore the pace will get hotter each day, as will the offshore waters as the East Australian Current pours down, bringing all sorts of warm-water surprises.
Marlin are the target for many anglers and with luck it will be a better season than last year. Blacks between 40lg and 150kg are the most common but striped and blue marlin are on the cards, particularly if you fish wider out around the shelf and a grand slam of all three in one day is possible.
Contrary to popular belief marlin are not the domain of millionaires and you don’t need a huge boat and travel to the horizon and beyond to catch them. A decent game outfit loaded with 15kg to 24kg line and a 2metre mono trace of about 100kg will do. Stick an 8/0 to 10/0 solid hook on the end and you are in business.
Now all you need is a few live preferably large slimy mackerel or yellowtail and feed them out over one of the local reefs or just have one out while you are drifting for flathead or anchored for snapper.
I caught one last year of around 80kg only 400m off the beach over a little patch of reef in 8m while trying to catch small sharks for some pictures.
Places like Bandit Reef, Wollongong Reef, the Southeast Grounds and even just out the back of the islands will produce fish. Water temperature plays a key role. You will find marlin in cooler water but generally when the water hits 23° is when to start chasing in earnest.
When the water temps start rising all manner of creatures show up, like the anticipated run of mahi mahi, which can be relied on during Summer to produce action and you don’t have to be Einstein to find or catch them – just head out to the FAD and throw in a livebait or even a pilchard.
If you like trolling lures there are the marlin and dollies plus the chance of yellowfin tuna, striped tuna and even the odd wahoo.
Closer to shore there are some solid yellowtail kings around the usual haunts along with heaps of undersized fish. Live slimies and yellowtail will catch the better fish or if the frigate mackerel have turned up, a live frigate will always attract the attention of monster hoodlums in the area.
The ever-present salmon seem to be all along the coast, mixed with small kings, bonito and a few mackerel tuna so tossing small lures around the schools feeding on the surface is always fun. Keep the tackle light to maximise the fun.
The inshore reefs have patchy snapper with samson, teraglin, various trevally species, rainbow runners and even mackerel later in the month.
Bottom-bouncers should get heaps of flathead over all the sand patches but the northern areas around Stanwell Park cop a hiding from the pros so can be hit-and-miss.
Beach action is rolling along quite nicely and with the kids on holidays you can get out and have some fun with the family. Whiting are the main target and they are on all the beaches, just grab a few beach worms and walk along casting into likely-looking runs and gutters until you find a school. You will probably also find bream, flathead, salmon, small jewies and even a few dart and trevally.
If you really want to get serious, can head down to one of the deeper gutters during the evening with fresh tailor or mackerel fillets and chase a big jewie. Most of the guys putting in the time have been getting quite a few schoolies to 10kg with a sprinkling of fish to 18kg.
My mate Kev was tossing a soft plastic into a deep gutter on a northern beach and scored a 16kg jewfish second cast – not bad for a first try.
The rock scene is much the same with most species on the bite. The deeper ledges are producing salmon, bonito and small kingfish on pilchards and lures while larger kings have been picked up on livebaits.
We don’t get a lot of marlin off the rocks on the Illawarra but the next few weeks hold your best chance. Blowhole Point at Kiama, Marsdens a little further south, Bombo and to a lesser extent the south side of Bass Point and Hill 60 are worth a shot with large livebaits. Some seasons produce more than others but there are always a couple hooked each year so if you have a bait out you are in with a chance.
Blackfish are taking cabbage and green weed off the rocks and in the quiet harbours like Port Kembla and Wollongong, although drummer have slowed down with the warm water.
Bream and trevally can be enticed with berley off most of the popular ledges, especially in the early mornings.
Lake Illawarra and the Minnamurra River are right on song with flathead everywhere. Softies, live poddies and live prawns will take good fish.
There are nice bream in the deeper holes and around the bridges and whiting over all the sand flats if you have squirt worms or nippers.
Don’t forget the Deans Bait and Tackle Wollongong Sportfishing Club Flathead Classic with tonnes of great prizes for all the family, whether you’re competitive or not so competitive. It’s on January 21, see Dean’s Bait and Tackle at Windang for entry details.
There are plenty of prawns in the lake during the dark of the moon so grab a light and a scoop net and head to the shallows for some fun and a great feed.Reads: 1928