What do anglers do during the worst month of the year to fish? Easy – they go fishing! It’s reassuring to know that if you can ride this month out, spring and better fishing is just around the corner.
In any case, fishing for pigs (black drummer) from the rocks is probably at its best during late winter. Most of the rock ledges around Bermi will produce these succulent white-fleshed, hard-pulling rock dwellers, and anglers in the know will have many an enjoyable moment from the stones tangling with them.
Simple rigs of small bean sinker run straight to the hook, or baits suspended by floats, is all that is required to produce fish. Hook sizes can vary, as can line classes. Some people like to use heavy line and horse the fish out, although my preferred way is to use 4kg line and a 10ft rod with a ball sinker straight to the hook, using cunjevoi or cabbage weed for bait. Allow the fish to have its head out wider when hooked and you may find as you bring the fish to the rocks that the fight will be less intense. Other fish you may encounter include groper, trevally, leatherjackets, bream and the tough fighting silver drummer.
Anglers will encounter plenty of salmon on the beaches. With westerly winds at your back, lure casting from the sand is never easier. Use outfits that can hold plenty of light line and lures to match. Long raking casts with fast retrieves will produce results as you walk along the beach exploring the gutters. Quite often at this time of year, shore break is at a minimum so soft plastics and flies also become an option.
A handy tip if you are having trouble with fish jumping and throwing the lure is to offset your hooks and use two split rings joined together to give a chain-like effect for better results.
Other fish likely to be encountered off the beach at this time of year are tailor, bream, mullet and gummy sharks – and of course bait fishing is very good and best used in conjunction with berley.
Blackfish are moving into the estuary systems in anticipation of the water getting warmer, and to feed over the weed flats. Conventional float rigs with green and cabbage weed for bait will see anglers have little trouble in obtaining a feed. Using nippers or worms on the flats as the tide rises will also produce results, however to obtain the best fishing, drop right down to ultra light gear and terminal tackle. I find a 6-7ft rod and 1-2kg line works just fine with a short 9lb leader.
Wallaga Lake is holding some very big tailor, and when these fish decide to feed the action can be spectacular. You will find these fish on the eastern side of the bridge feeding on schools of mullet, and that is the time to hit them with a popper. Fast retrieves with plenty of splash will see some pretty exciting strikes.
Further up the lake in the creeks some very nice bream are being taken on hardbodied lures. Some of the fish have been caught around some of the snags and rocky outcrops. However, for best results polaroid the shallow gravelly areas, quite often in the centre of the river, where the bream fossick for small crustaceans.
Venturing out to sea, anglers can try a variety of different fishing techniques to satisfy their needs. Jigging is popular whether in close, around headlands, on the reefs or beyond the shelf.
In close using soft plastics anglers can expect to catch species like snapper, flathead, morwong, salmon and rock cod just to name a few. On the wider reefs, metal jigs and plastics can score you kingfish, john dory, big tiger flathead and many other oddballs. For the real weird stuff try out over the shelf with big jigs on heavy braid and see what wonders live in the deep, then go to the books and start identifying them.
Reef fishing in general is quite good with most favourable species fishing well. At this time of year large tiger flathead are returning to our waters and the deeper reefs will produce the better fish. Jackass and blue morwong will feature in bags, as will some very nice snapper. For the best results on snapper, anchor and berley in various depths.
Gamefishing is probably at its worst now, with those westerly winds and very cold water not encouraging predator fish to our area. Berleying may see you encounter either blue or mako sharks with the Twelve Mile Reef and over the shelf being the better areas. The benefit of berleying over the reefs is that you can fish the bottom while waiting for the sharks.
Those anglers wishing to brave the conditions and venture far to sea may encounter bluefin tuna. These fish hang around in the cooler water and are sometimes more than an incidental catch. With the big run of bluefin in southern waters this year, anglers could be expected to encounter these fish more regularly on the east coast.Reads: 516