Welcome once again to the best time of the year for fishing on the South Coast.
Over the next few months the water temperature should be around 21° with a multitude of fish on offer.
Spinning metal lures off the rocks or from a boat is well worth a shot with some good numbers of legal kingfish already being taken.
Expect to also see some frigate mackerel schools zipping through the wash. They make for an awesome big kingfish live bait or saved for the freezer to be used as snapper and jewfish bait later in the year.
Bonito numbers increased a little last season after several very quiet ones. Hopefully their numbers will improve further this season because they are great sport and fine table fare if you bleed them, skin the fillets and remove the dark bloodline meat. Cook the fillets quickly for just a few minutes on each side to avoid the fish drying out.
Good all-round lures for bonito are generally 30g to 50g but minnow lures that can cope with a bit of speed can also be deadly. Use a brisk retrieve and incorporate a few pauses and you should bring a few undone during the next couple of months.
Divers have been spearing the odd hood-sized kingfish to 22kg recently so be sure you are geared up for a battle if kings are your next target.
Snapper numbers went quiet for a bit but they are biting well once more with many boats bagging out when the weather plays fair. Ben Roberts caught and released two 5kg fish as well as a swag of smaller ones on soft plastics recently and a few other crews did the same on floating baits. A 9kg cracker was also fooled into eating a long, thin strip of cuttlefish on a two hook rig.
Snapper fishing should only get better during the next few months and, as a bonus, those dreaded nor’-easters should not be packing as much punch.
On the deeper grounds charter boats working the 30 to 40 fathom mark have been finding their clients ample numbers of snapper to 2kg.
The Clyde River should have good numbers of bream spread throughout the system. I find the run-out tide is by far the most productive time to try in the Clyde when fishing soft plastics.
If oyster-rack fishing is your go, look for a tide level that is just enough for a bream to swim over the racks. At this stage of the tide they seem to be the most aggressive.
I tend to favour the mangrove-lined banks, rock walls and weed banks when the tides are not at this optimum level.
Flathead to 5kg continue to excite anglers and thankfully most seem to be getting the photo-and-release treatment. The breakwall, under the power lines past Bud Island, the mouth of Runnyford Creek and the east end of Big Island are just a few locations that regularly produce oversized flathead.
West of the Nelligen bridge has been producing some quality estuary perch with fish averaging 35cm to 40cm and all have been very solid, rotund fish.
The odd school jewfish has also been encountered in close proximity to the perch and they have been happy enough to eat very small bream-sized plastics that are generally used.
The good news is that perch and jewfish respond to the same slow, purposeful retrieve in the bottom third of the water column so you can still be fishing for EPs and luck onto a decent jewie of 3kg to 8kg.
Luke Barranowski with a couple of fine Moruya River bream taken on soft plastics.
One-pound Fireline and a small plastic aimed at estuary perch fooled this fine Clyde River jew for Harry's Bait and Tackle proprietor Rodney Stokman.Reads: 1066