Water temps have remained quite stable over the last two months but will drop right off this month with a good frost or two, reaching lows of 14ºC around Broken Bay and as low as 10ºC up at Windsor and Penrith.
The fish are still willing and the overall quality of fish certainly makes up for the lack of numbers. Big bream, 1m+ mulloway and some decent flathead will call the lower reaches home over the next few months. Lures are my go-to option in winter time as livebait gets harder to source. Still, if you’re keen to put in the effort to catch livies I suggest trying West Head and Barrenjoey Headland. You will find success by either anchoring and berleying up or locating schools on the sounder and dropping a bait jig into them. Yellowtail are the most common baitfish, but sweep and bullseyes can interfere with proceedings. These also make good live baits, and most large predators can’t refuse a struggling well placed livey.
Southern calamari also make exceptional live and dead baits and can be found in the same areas and the above mentioned baitfish. Larger sized jigs from 2.5 to 3.5 in orange, pink and natural colours have been working well. A squid spike (jag) rigged with fresh bait is a handy asset and can be left in a rod holder a couple of turns up from the bottom with the drag set to around 1kg.
Some stud bream are calling the washes home at present and are best targeted using a bread berley and lightly weighted baits of peeled prawn or bread on 8-10lb fluorocarbon and small strong hooks. Other species like drummer and silver trevally can get in on the action, and the odd bust-up will occur on the light line suggested.
You can lure fish in the same areas but lure losses are a common occurrence. Floating crankbaits can be cast and cranked down through the strike zone and paused to float over any obstructions. Alternately a very lightly weighted soft plastic can be wafted around in the white water with the odd twitch to entice a bite.
Back in the river proper the resident bream will be holding deep on the rock walls in 6-10m. Once fish have been located, make parallel casts with small vibes and curl tail grub soft plastics to keep in the zone. The bites can seem timid at times and a smear of your favourite scent can be beneficial on some days.
Estuary perch are a common bycatch when looking for bream and mulloway around reefs and rock walls at this time of year. Be mindful as it is the closed season and they should be returned to the water immediately.
Mulloway are still about and I find lure fishing to be most productive. Fishing the tide changes with soft plastics, soft vibes and deep diving crankbaits will account for some great school jewfish. Live baiting will still take fish but the effort required to initially source bait is time consuming and sometimes unproductive.
The hairtail have been making regular appearances in anglers’ catches fishing in Cowan, Smiths and Coal and Candle creeks. Set your baits at different depths add a bit of berley and wait for the action to start. Casting a 100mm shallow running hardbody around the adjacent area can also turn these fish on, especially when they are being fussy with taking baits. A slow roll with the odd pause and jerk should see you in the action. When seeking a likely spot I always sound around and make sure there is bait in the general area. If I don’t find any bait I move to another likely point or bay and repeat the process until I find good concentrations. Find the bait and you will find the fish.Reads: 617