This is it the month we have all been waiting for. The hot blue water is streaming down the coast, bringing with it all sorts of tropical species and sending the local fish population into feeding overdrive.
There are all manner of creatures offshore, the beaches are fishing fabulously and the estuaries are teeming with life so there aren’t any excuses for not getting a few fish over coming weeks.
The shallows in local estuaries are like bathwater and alive with small fish and prawns so that means the flatties are on the hunt. Lake Illawarra and the Minnamurra River are firing well with heaps of fish on soft plastics, live poddy mullet and live prawns.
All the usual places are holding heaps of fish, even the unusual spots are producing fish so it doesn’t really seem to matter where you put a bait there is a flathead there to eat it.
Even some of the little creeks dotted along the coast that you thought had long been devoid of life are throwing up a few surprises for those adventurous enough to have a look.
Good whiting are taking worms around the entrances to the Minnamurra and the lake, while there are bream among the bridge pylons and in the deeper holes during the late evenings.
At the back of these larger estuaries there are heaps of good mullet and garfish if you use bran for berley and fish with a light float and a small piece or bread or prawn. Try up Mullet Creek around where they fly the model planes. There are also some solid tailor along with heaps of choppers which are great for the kids and there are even a few long toms getting in on the act.
Don’t forget the prawns on the dark; a few hours of scooping has produced some very large prawns and a couple of kilos of these are always welcome. Or you could just grab a few for bait because nothing beats live prawns.
The beaches are fishing really well and there are whiting along the entire coast with beach worms the prime bait. Throw in some dart, flathead, bream, tailor and salmon and you have the makings of a great day’s fishing.
During the evening there have been plenty of school jew about and a few bruisers as well. Coniston and Fairy Meadow beaches are fishing well, as are most beaches with a good gutter or two.
The rocks are firing, particularly for pelagic action on the deeper ledges south of Wollongong. Kiama is always the pick with kings, bonito, salmon and even the odd marlin.
Live frigate mackerel spun up just on daylight, then fed straight back out on heavy tackle, have triggered some big kingfish action. Some kings even get landed, while a marlin is not out of the question fishing in this manner, either.
If the marlin or kings miss your bait there are plenty of hammerhead sharks and whalers about grabbing an easy meal.
If the big fish are not your style there are plenty of bonito, smaller kings, trevally, tailor, mack tuna and even the odd stray cobia taking lures and baits. Blowhole Point, Bombo and Marsdens are the pick of the spots while the southern side of Bass Point and Hill 60 are worth a look as well. Early morning is the best time.
The quiet bays along the coast have a few nice bream during the evenings with cubes of fresh tuna doing the damage.
Offshore it is marlin time so if you ever wanted to lock horns with a billfish, now is the time. The recognised haunts like Bandit and Wollongong reefs are the way to go but you are a chance just about anywhere if you have a livie out.
Marlin are generally recognised as the pinnacle for sportfishing anglers but mahi mahi are what most boats will be chasing because they are easy to find, easy to hook and there are plenty of them out around the traps and FADs.
Some ripper fish to 15kg have been caught but the average fish is about 2kg. Just remember that they don’t keep well so take only enough for a feed. a
It can be like Pitt Street out there so it is often better to move on to greener pastures and the fish often do as well. It may not be a bad idea because the hot water has brought small yellowfin tuna, mackerel tuna, striped tuna, the odd sailfish, wahoo, rainbow runners, a few cobia and even a few spotted and Spanish mackerel so there are plenty of options to follow.
Close in around the islands there are heaps of kings to 10kg – the hard part is getting slimy mackerel for bait because it is a simple equation: slimy = king.
In close to the beaches and headlands there are bonito, salmon, frigate mackerel, smaller kingfish and mack tuna chasing baitfish, just look for the splashes, seagulls, terns and mutton birds and cast small lures into the schools for some great action.
With all the bait about, sharks are not far away and there are plenty of small hammerheads and whalers in close with larger specimens out wider along with some big tigers.
Local lad Greg Barea has released a new DVD titled Small Boat Big Sharks and by his own admission it is not a flash, big-budget production, more a nuts-and-bolts ‘how it really is’ fishing adventure. Some of the footage is pretty wild but you will need to see for yourself. It’s available in local tackle stores and I even saw some in Currarong Caravan Park reception the other day.
Around the reefs a few nice reds are starting to show so an evening spent putting down berley over one of the close bumps could produce a few nice fish. There is always the chance of a few trag and jewies, not to mention a few small sharks.
The bottom-bashers are cheering with plenty of flathead over all the sand patches with the reefs producing snapper, trevally, samson, pigfish, trag, mowies, leatherjackets by the boatload and even some stray sweetlip and spangled emperor.
So there is no shortage of action this month and no excuses for not getting a few.
Beware of ‘FAD rage’.
If you are fishing the FADs this Summer, motor up to the area slowly, get your baits out and drift away so the next boat in line gets a shot.
Recently some anglers have been just sitting on top of the FAD, preventing others from a fair go and causing some heated words to be exchanged.
It can be difficult when the fish are touchy and you want to be as close as possible for as long as you can but others also pay their licence money so they deserve a fair go as well.