This is it, the last few weeks before Winter sets in, and it can be a pretty good time, particularly for the beach fishos.
A good pair of waders lets you tackle the crisp mornings and cool evenings in relative comfort while the fishing can at times have you raising a sweat.
Tailor and salmon are prevalent on many of the local beaches, particularly Windang and Coniston, often chasing baitfish right into the shallows and chopping the water into foam.
Casting lures into the mass is very effective when they are feeding like this but, for the most part, casting pilchards on ganged hooks will score the majority of fish when they are quietly going about their business.
There are good gutters on most beaches at the moment so finding a few fish should not be that hard.
Bream are about in increasing numbers with fillets of pilchard doing the trick on most occasions, although beach worms are another top bait which give you the bonus of catching any whiting that are still about. These tend to be extra large at this time of year.
At high tide late in the evenings there have been some quality jewies taken, particularly on the northern beaches. Quite a few are falling to soft plastics but the bigger fish often prefer fresh fillets of tailor or slimy mackerel.
Small whaler sharks are still biting off hooks after dark and their first run is a real ripper if you stay connected long enough.
In the estuaries it is bream time, particularly in the lake and its feeder streams. Small soft plastics in darker colours have been working well in the creeks and along the rocky shores but for good results try peeled green prawns on light line in the same areas with a little bread and tuna oil berley.
There are some solid fish over a kilo so don’t be surprised if you get stitched up in the snags.
The flatties are a bit quiet but they often have a late burst during early May so try around Tallawarra and Primbee along the back of the caravan park.
Minnamurra has bream around the bridge pylons, there are some blackfish along the edges of the weed beds in the main channel and a few flathead still about in the deeper holes.
On the rocks, pelagics and sub-surface species will be about. As the water cools the drummer start to hit their straps and will provide the bulk of the action over coming months.
All of the cunje-covered rock ledges with deep water nearby will have populations of drummer and with experience you can pick the good water.
Bream should be biting around most of the rock ledges and in quiet bays. Try bread berley to get them going and use royal red prawns for bait. Trevally and even the drummer will get in on the act if you use berley so you can have a really good session given the right conditions.
Blackfish are still moving along the coast so try cabbage or green weed off almost any ledges with whitewater for cover.
There are plenty of solid kings patrolling the deeper ledges around Kiama and Port Kembla with even the odd one showing up at Coalcliff. Early morning is the key so you will need to have your live mackerel, pike or squid in the water as it gets light because you generally get only an hour at them before they head to greener pastures.
After that there are still a few mackerel tuna and even the odd longtail about to grab a livebait.
Smaller kings, bonito, salmon and tailor are about if you use smaller yellowtail during the day or small lures will account for the same species and the last of the frigates that may be about.
Offshore should be slowing down as Winter closes in but all is not lost. There are some nice snapper about but you will have to work for them because they seem to be spread out. Fresh mackerel and tuna baits in a tuna berley trail is your best bet.
Further out there have been whispers of a few yellowfin tuna starting to show as the water temperature drops so there could be some late action for the game fishos.
Striped tuna are around from 50 fathoms to the shelf so it may be worth getting a few to stock up the freezer for snapper bait.
There have been a few stray striped marlin whacking skirts but you will have to cover a far bit of water for results – maybe have a big skirt out while chasing striped tuna.
In closer, kings are on the menu around the islands and Bass Point but you will need live baits for results. Large poppers can get them in the hunting mood when you find a school and they are reluctant to really have a go.
Bonito are not as fussy most of the time and there are some really good fish up to 5kg in all the usual spots. Live yellowtail and whole pilchards have been taking them, as have medium sized Rapala minnows. The trouble with Rapalas is that kings like them, too, and regularly tend to take them home so a morning can become very expensive.
The ever-present salmon are around the islands and most of the headlands. Troll flies to find the fish and then cast small lures into the school.
Flathead are about but you have to work a darned sight harder than you did six weeks ago for a feed. Stanwell Park, Fairy Meadow, Port Kembla and Kiama all have some fish and there aren’t too many spiky midgets so just about all the fish you hook will be keepers.
Morwong seem to be increasing, as are the leatherjackets that seem to swarm over the reefs and even the sand, making it difficult to keep a rig in the water without being bitten off.
There are plenty of sweep, a few pigfish, trevally and small samson to round off the bags. So get out there before it gets too cold and windy.
Leatherjackets like this have been a total pest as they move in over sand and reef alike and snip off every bit of tackle that goes over the side.Reads: 917