Winter is upon us and many are now shelving their fishing gear and looking for different pursuits. However, for we dedicated anglers it’s a time to rug up and get amongst the winter action. There are plenty of different options on offer for those who brave the elements and enjoy some winter fishing.
Beach angling will hit its straps with recent weather creating some decent gutters on some of our top fishing beaches. There are three stand-out beaches as key locations: North Beach, Lighthouse Beach and Dunbogan Beach. The primary targets this month will be bream, tailor and mulloway.
If you’re chasing tailor you will find fishing metal slabs is always the best place to start. Alternatively, if you like to bait fish then whole pilchards rigged on ganged hooks is also an excellent option. First and last light of the day are the optimum times. Don’t be surprised if you come across a few Australian salmon, which at this time of year can well and truly test your gear.
Bream and mulloway will be an option for most of the day and into the night. With the northern ends of the beaches being the best locations. The prime baits will be beach worms, fished as light as possible. With the amount of school size mulloway around during autumn some XL models will more than likely be on the cards this month.
The estuaries have been a mixed pallet of fish lately, with plenty of options on offer for those hitting the water. With the cooler months upon us, options will narrow with the lower reaches being the focus for most anglers. Bream and luderick are beginning to school, with bream getting ready to go to sea and luderick moving into our systems on the run-in tide.
Those chasing large bream won’t do any better than fishing the coal walls on dusk and after dark, with strip and cut baits the best option for getting larger fish. It’s important to note that larger fish will take larger baits. And, as always, if there is an option to fish lighter then do so. I light to start with either nothing or something very small, the size of a pea. I then work it out from there in regards to the strength of the current and how deep my bait needs to get.
The best locations this month will be along Settlement Point Road on the Hastings River and the south wall on the Camden Haven River. Fishing the inside of the wall on the Camden Haven can be a great spot, especially on the run-in tide, as the water back eddies and is a top feeding spot. Don’t discount throwing a bait along Pilots Beach either. This month it will have very few swimmers and fish will take their place and hunt schooling baitfish.
Lure fishing can be tough this month, but a few techniques will increase your chances. This month bream will be lurking in the oyster leases and the oyster scrap heap areas adjacent to leases. Plastics rigged unweighted or on hidden weights wafted over these areas will be hard to resist by bream and flathead. Big Bay on the Hastings River and upstream of the Dunbogan Bridge on the Camden Haven will be top spots.
An important tip is to check your drag and make sure it’s up to pulling bream clear of the structure which is deadly to light line and leaders. Fishing deep is another good technique that can prove successful this month. Personally I’d rather swim with tiger sharks! However, when you need a fish it’s an option that even I will revert to. Deadsticking plastics on the bottom along the rock walls is always a positive option.
Using your sounder to locate schools and changes in water depth is paramount to making the most of deepwater fishing. Bream, flathead and mulloway will be the primary targets. And it’s simple really – just use the smaller plastics for bream and larger 4-5” plastics for flathead and mulloway.
Another deepwater technique that I do enjoy is parallel fishing. This technique involves casting deep diving hardbody lures parallel to the rock wall. An option that is possible from the bank, but better from a boat or kayak. I like to nose the boat into the wall and cast as far along as I can with a deep diver, like a Jackal Chubby or Bassday Sugar Deep. Then I use a slow retrieve with little pauses and twitches to get the attention of fish. Twitches and shakes of the lure will entice fish sitting deeper to come and investigate. A suspending lure will give you better coverage in the strike zone. Sometimes I like to add small pieces of lead tape to my deep divers to give them a suspending quality.
Offshore action this month will see many anglers focus change from pelagic species to bottom dwellers like snapper, pearl perch and teraglin. Some will also choose to jig for kingfish.
Early this bottom-bouncing season has seen some quality snapper already coming from off Point Plommer. This month snapper and pearl perch should be readily available off Port Macquarie with a good starting point being the North Canyon (31.26.350 153.15.355) or the South Canyon (31.29.350 153.15.500). Those not wanting to go this far offshore will do OK on the inner reefs off Nobbys and Lighthouse.
Being winter definitely shouldn’t be an excuse to shelve the gear. It should be an opportunity to fish quieter waters and enjoy some good fishing opportunities in the Greater Port Macquarie Area. Remember to get out and enjoy yourself, take care and only take what you need, not your limit.Reads: 607