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Peak period for everything
  |  First Published: February 2007




Welcome to what should be one of the best months for fishing along the Central Coast.

We are now entering what I consider to be the peak period for just about all types of fishing in the area so if you’ve been busy with work, now’s the time to forget about overtime or deadlines and get out there and enjoy what you really like doing – catching fish.

One of my favourite activities at this time of year is high-speed spinning from the rocks for small pelagics. Bonito, kingfish, frigate mackerel and tailor are the main targets although there’s often a sprinkling of mackerel tuna, salmon and samson fish.

In the good old days striped tuna were also much more common, but it seems that the inshore stripy fishery has pretty much collapsed along the NSW coastline. It’s been at least 10 years since I last saw the ocean boiling with a mass stripy feeding frenzy and one bloke said recently that he hadn’t even seen a striped tuna for five years. I know the odd one is still around but it sure is total evidence of what commercial fishing can do.

The warning signs are also there for bonito. Ten years ago places like Wybung Head and Avoca could really lay on some fun bonito spinning with non-stop hook-ups all morning on good-sized fish. Over the past few years though, there are plenty of days when you’re lucky to see a bonnie and then the average size of the fish has dropped to nearly half of what it used to be.

Sorry about all this negative stuff, but I’m just stating the current situation so we can be more aware of the ramifications of taking too much – commercial or recreational.

Anyway, there are some fun spinning times still to be had, especially if you lighten up the tackle. Traditional Central Coast high-speed spinning tackle consists of a Shimano Speedmaster or similar overhead spooled up with 8kg or 10kg line and a 3m FSU4120 or 5120 rod.

That system has worked for years but to enjoy things in the modern era I reckon it makes more sense to lighten up.

The outfit I’ve used over the past few seasons is a Daiwa SL20SH spooled up with 6kg Ande line and a 2.5m rod custom built on a Wilson Live Fibre blank. This rod was built by the guys at Budgewoi Marine Sports who really know the area and have a lot of experience with this sort of rod design, so that’s where I would be heading if this sort of thing sounds appealing.

It’s just a lot less physically tiring to fish with and if the fish are getting smaller, so should the tackle.

As for lures, stick with half-by-quarters, SureCatch Bishops and Knights, all of 35g to 60g.

The only exception is when the frigate mackerel are running. These little bullets, known locally as ‘leadies’, are heaps of fun on really light gear and also make excellent cut baits for bream and snapper. Lures for leadies need to be 10g to 20g metals and white seems to be the best colour.

The area’s best frigate spots are in the Terrigal Haven, along South Avoca rocks and sometimes inside Cabbage Tree Bay at Norah Head and at Pelican Point to the south of Norah Head. As for bonito and kings, try Wybung Head, Snapper Point, Catherine Hill Bay, Terrigal Skillion and South Avoca.

BEACHES FIRE

Beach fishing should fire over the next few months. You may run into some of those leadies off the beach but the more likely fish are tailor and jewfish after dark, bream, whiting and flathead through the day and the odd salmon here and there.

While beaches like North Entrance, Wamberal and Avoca may get a bit crowded over the weekends, there are others like Birdie or Catherine Hill Bay that will have a bit more standing room.

Brisbane Water should kick back into life now that the silly season is over and boat traffic isn’t churning the estuary to foam. Bream, flathead and whiting are reliable options but it still pays to get up early or perhaps soak a bait after dark for better results.

A lot of people head for deeper spots like The Rip bridge, thinking that deeper means better, but in reality some top places to hurl a bait or lure in Brissy Water are the flats around Fagans Bay, Woy Woy, Cockle Bay and Point Clare.

From low tide as the water rises tends to fish better than on a falling tide in shallow areas like these. Baits like live pink nippers and bloodworms or small soft plastics fished on light line complete the picture.

Tuggerah Lakes should yield flathead, bream and whiting at The Entrance, once again with first-class baits like pink nippers, bloodworms or live prawns, particularly at night under the lights of the bridge.

Toukley Bridge and Budgewoi are other places to try for flathead and bream, more so after dark or very early in the morning. Take a punt or canoe up the creeks this month and it shouldn’t be too hard to find bream on small soft plastics and maybe an estuary perch if you’re lucky.

Offshore fishing this month should be quite good, although that depends exactly on what the oceanic currents do. At the moment there have been a few marlin caught further up the coast and they are heading south but they won’t come in close here if the water temperature and baitfish supplies aren’t good enough for them.

It’s largely a matter of keeping heading out until you strike good water or, better still, check internet sites that have maps of current NSW water temperatures like the CSIRO or Manly Hydraulics websites.

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