Winter has finished for another year and it overall ended up being a little quiet. This was mainly due to the water temperature being up around 22ºC instead of the normal 19ºC.
The cooler temperature causes the snapper to breed and be as hungry as a pack of rabbits in a desert, which would of made it a season to remember! Nevertheless, there have been some quality snapper taken in the deeper areas of the Barwon Banks and overall it was one of the best places to be throughout the winter period.
Iodine bream have been prolific this winter. With so many fish around the southern end of the Barwon Banks it has been difficult to get anything else near the bait. It was only five years ago that iodine bream were scattered around but they have really taken a hold now. Tuskfish were also amongst the catches and once fish around the 2kg mark are coming on board it makes the day a lot more interesting.
The local wrecks held massive amounts of teraglin. The only thing about trag is that they really do mess up the fishing line. They can saw a rig so fast you could easily replace one each drop. Float lining has been the more favoured method to getting the bigger snapper on the anchor otherwise a strong paternoster rig has done the job without worry. The shallow reef areas, like Murphys, the Gneerings and Caloundra 12 Mile, have been the best places to locate the larger fish, which will be the case until summer takes a strong foothold.
The estuaries have enjoyed a run of the bigger bream along with a few mulloway, which have been consistently hanging in the deeper drop-offs. Baitfish schools have been holding just offshore but there has not been enough predators around to break them up and sent them screaming for cover in the Pumicestone Passage. I witnessed a very large school of hardiheads just off Moffat Beach headland recently and it sat in the deeper waters waiting to be attacked but nothing happened. That is a sure sign that things are quiet.
Whiting are being caught on bloodworms and smaller poppers in the early mornings. Best baits for big bream have been chicken. People laugh when we mention that chicken is good bait, but if you use the bits around the leg they are a lot tougher and last a long time. Normally bream can’t pull it off the hook so they swallow it whole resulting in a hook up. Just cut small strips about worm size and put them on the hook like you would a worm, a couple of half hitches around the top of the bait and the bream is yours.
Mullet have been in and out of the Pumicestone Passage and for those of us that use them for bait it was hard work finding enough numbers to put some in the freezer for later in the year. Of course if the mullet don’t run then the predators don’t come on and the whole season just grinds to a stop.
Fishing the beaches has been rewarding as there have been good numbers of bream, whiting and smaller dart about and an odd tailor or two. Late evening low tides have proven to be the better times to fish for tailor and smaller 3/0 hooks have made the difference this season. Normally 4/0 or 5/0 three ganged hooks would do the trick but because numbers have been down it has been important to use plenty of finesse.
A key to good beach fishing is of course picking a spot that will hold fish but also use berley. We would normally start a berley trail from the moment we arrive at our chosen spot and that could be 20 minutes before we are even ready to begin fishing. Just like offshore and estuary fishing, berley, will make a tremendous difference to the number of fish you will catch. A simple mixture of chook laying pellets and old bait mixed together will bring them on if they are in the area. I suggest around a minimum of 20 minutes of berley if possible before starting or if it’s not then start the handfuls into the waves as quick as possible.
So is it true the more you berley the more fish you will catch? No! Berley is not meant to feed the fish but to keep them around in the area and biting. Better to have a slower, consistent flow than a 5-10 minute break and start again. One of the best delivery methods is an old bag that releases the mixture or simply a normal berley pot fastened into the sand by a pole leaving it to belt about in the wave motion.
Summer fishing will be upon us soon but there are still opportunities to bag a snapper or two after dusk in the shallow reef areas or out wider in the deep holes. Don’t dismiss the use of berley and watch the tide times because a fishing trip on a high tide at dusk could be super productive. Work the estuaries this month for the last of the big bream and a few trevally and jack should be starting to show their aggression again. Have Fun!Reads: 477