Early season hasn’t stopped
  |  First Published: December 2013

The season started early this year with hot water rolling down the coast back in September and it hasn’t stopped since! There have been heaps of medium to monster yellowfin tuna that came with it, and early mahi mahi in October with a few wahoo thrown in for good measure.

November saw more of the same with big blue and striped marlin in good numbers off the shelf, so don’t be surprised if the blacks turn up this month on the close reefs and hang around for longer than usual. This is all good if you have a boat that can get out wide but a few fish should filter through to the close reefs for the smaller boats to have a bit of fun too.

Don’t forget that there is the chance of that big fin on Wollongong or Bandit in the first week or two of this month. They still come through but not in any numbers, you have to be ‘Johnny on the spot’ to get one, but as always you never know. Jellybean fin and schoolies to 30kg should still be about out wide and in any current in close.

The good thing about the early warm water is it brings current and that means the kings will be on the hunt. Everything else seems to be early but the kings like that current running hard so they should be on the boil when the hard push of water comes.

For the moment there are a few kings around the islands and the other usual spots grabbing live squid and slimies, if you are very early and work the likely areas hard. Once the current runs they will be easy pickings.

Bellambi Reef, Bass Point, Bandit, Wollongong Reef and the islands will all be top spots and, although it doesn’t cop the current, the bommies off Rangoon Island down south also produce good fish.

Also on the radar has been the extra good run of snapper from the deep water out around the ships. There are reefs everywhere and most anglers are looking for the bait balls, and when they are found the reds don’t seem to be too far away.

Soft plastics have come into their own in this situation and are fishing extra well with bag limits of big fish becoming regular for those who have a handle on it. This being the case, we may need to put the big ones back like we do with the flatties.

I know that the pros hammer the snapper with the traps in deeper water and have taken a lot of fish over the years, but with the added pressure of the plastics working so well something may give. Just a thought as it has always been difficult to baitfish for good results in these depths.

If you like chasing snapper in the shallower waters then there are a few about the bommies, if you but out a bit of berley, and fish light during the evenings.

There are plenty of striped tuna from 50 fathoms to the shelf if you need bait. Some are in closer mixing it with all the salmon schools chasing bait all along the coast. Some nice bonito have moved in with them and there are some solid trevally under the schools if you work the plastic under them.

Prawn patterns bring them undone every time and score a few small reds as well. If you let it sink too deep and you are over the sand it is amazing how quickly the flatties zoom in on them, and when they are on, it is worth giving the pelagics a miss and keep on pulling flatties.

There are plenty grabbing baits for the drifters as well, over all the usual sand patches. The trevally are grabbing flattie baits too and over the reefs there are good numbers of small reddies, mowies, the odd trag and Samson, and the usual leatherjackets if you are in the wrong spot.

Closer in the beaches are starting to run hot with just about everything starting to come onto the boil.

This month is notorious for its big mulloway and this year should be no different with all the baitfish in the surf already and the water a little warmer than usual, it should fire.

Plenty of soapies and schoolies are about on most beaches, you just have to be there when they are so put in the hours with fresh bait and you will be rewarded. Fish to 30kg are not uncommon over the coming weeks; so don’t take a knife to a gunfight. Mulloway over 20kg fight hard in the surf and will give a good account of themselves on 10-15kg tackle. Go any heavier and you risk missing the bites altogether for being too heavy; go too light and you will get the bites and get towelled up by a big fish. This size tackle also helps get those nuisance little whalers in a bit quicker too, and there will be plenty of them over the coming months.

Coniston, East Corrimal, Stanwell Park, Windang and Bombo are all top beaches for a look this month.

Set your sights a bit lower and there are heaps of whiting all along the coast now. You will need beach worms for best results. Everything else likes beach worms too so be prepared for bream, trevally, flathead, dart and of course salmon.

Schools of sambos love chasing baitfish into the surf and have a free for all at this time of the year so always keep a few metal lures in the beach bag for just such occasions and a few plastics for the flatties as well.

On the rocks it is starting to simmer with salmon, tailor, bonito and small kings. They’re grabbing pilchards and lures at all the deeper ledges with the southern rocks from Bass Point south the best performers.

Big kings are patrolling these same ledges very early in the morning so a live squid or yellowtail fished right at your feet could do very well.

Keep the berley going to bring around some decent bream, trevally and even a reddie or two in the wash area.

Blackfish are in the harbours early but good weed is needed and a good weed berley to get them around and keep them interested.

The estuaries are now in full swing but one of the main targets this month and in the couple of weeks before Christmas will be blue swimmer crabs.

During the weekends if the weather is even slightly kind there will be thousands of floats marking the positions of the traps all over the lake. They are a major navigation hazard so keep your eyes on the water and don’t take them off as it is impossible to navigate in a straight line because you will get one of the lines tangled in your prop. It’s not dangerous at all just a pain in the backside untangling the mess from your motor then having to take your prop off when you get home to check for any material caught around the inside of the prop that could damage your seals.

Even with all the traps there still seems to be plenty of crabs to go around so everyone is happy.

While you are waiting for the crabs the flatties are all over the lake with the area around the drop-off the best spot. The main channel and over along the front of the power station goes all right too.

All the usual flathead plastics will score fish but if you want to hedge your bets grab a few live prawns for bait and not only pick up flathead but bream and whiting as well. Try casting live unweighted prawns into the snags of the feeder streams for some monster bream or just hit the flats in the dark and bugger the bait get a feed of prawns for yourself.

There are no better prawns than fresh Lake Illawarra prawns.

With the prawns comes popper time over the flats for bream and whiting when the traffic is low, which generally means mid week but it is well worth it for the fun.

The breakwalls of the lake have some decent salmon and tailor in the evenings and even a few small mulloway.

Minnamurra is much the same with good flatties all along its length and some very nice whiting down around the entrance.


Now the water has warmed up and the prawns are running, the flatties are out to fatten up.


Still plenty of decent little snapper about over the inshore reefs feeding under and with the schools of pelagics.


With the early warm water we should see more of these little jellybean fin making an appearance along with schoolies to 30kg.

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