It’s pretty darned cold catching beach worms at this time of the year but a good supply will be rewarded with some very nice bream on just about any beach with a good gutter.
Use a ball sinker with just enough weight to keep it on the bottom, without being anchored in one place, so it can move around in the wash and current. This way you will cover more ground and the bait will look more natural.
The great thing about beach worms is that every fish that moves through the surf zone can’t resist them, even occasionally tailor.
Mixed with the bream are some stud whiting. They are not on every beach and they are not usually encountered in great numbers, with three or four a session a good result, but you know they are good fish when it takes both hands to grab one. Throw these together with some bream and you have the makings of a good catch.
Jewies are still on most beaches, particularly north of Wollongong, with schoolies to 8kg fairly common along with a generous spread of larger fish.
The usual fresh baits are scoring, as are large soft plastics, which seem to be picking up fish in the afternoon well before they turn on to the cut baits after dark. Work that one out.
Salmon and tailor are on most beaches with deep gutters. The sambos are biting best before sunup and the tailor are doing it after sundown.
When you find them, the same gutter seems to work for a week or so before they move on or angling pressure keeps you from getting a spot on the gutter due to crowding.
The rocks don’t fish too badly this month, that is, when the sea is not too angry, so take care. If the swell is up and making life difficult, go somewhere not so dangerous or go hame and live to fish another day.
The washes have some solid drummer taking cunjevoi, royal red prawns and abalone gut. Coalcliff, Bellambi, Honeycomb, Bass Point and Bombo are good spots to start looking.
The same baits used for drummer will attract bream and there are just as many around the rocks as there are on the beaches.
A little bread and pilchard berley in an onion bag attached to a rope and hung in the wash should enhance your hook-up rate. The berley will also attract any trevally in the area and they should be increasing in numbers and size over the coming weeks, particularly on the deeper ledges.
On those deeper ledges, don’t give up on the pelagics because there is still a good chance of some nice fish, particularly on live baits down around Kiama. Kings are the main species, particularly between first light sun-up. Keep those baits close to the rocks, particularly big pike.
Then spin for bonito because nothing attracts big kings like the fighting vibrations of a bonito as you get it close to the rocks. The kings chase it, see the easy pike meal and you are in business.
As the sun gets up and in the afternoon there is a good chance that a few large mackerel tuna and the odd longtail will still be travelling past so a live yakka or slimy mackerel under a balloon could pay dividends.
In the meantime, keep spinning because there are still plenty of bonito, tailor, salmon and a few small kings about.
Offshore it can be a bit quiet during Winter – unless you target snapper. Most of the local red-chasers are starting to salivate at the prospect of the cuttlefish spawning run that gets going towards the end of the month.
A few early snapper are always on the cards so now is the time to start chasing them over the close northern reefs in 15m or less. Berley hard in the early morning and late afternoon and use fresh cuttlefish, if you can get some, or fresh slimy mackerel fillets. Use none or only a small amount of lead to let the bait fall naturally through the berley trail.
The fish should really start to gather towards the end of the month and be active for at least six weeks.
The berley should attract a few trevally but if you want to target trevally, head to the islands and berley in close to the northern side of Pig or the eastern side of Gap. Put out a live yellowtail for any kings that may be about because they often swim up berley trails during Winter, catching the anglers by surprise.
Bonito, too, are still around and trolling small minnow-style lures around the islands and headlands is the best way to pick up a few. Those using pilchards for snapper have been getting a few bonnies as well.
Further offshore, weather permitting, there are a few yellowfin tuna and the odd albacore starting to show out around the continental shelf but you will have to work hard for them unless you stumble over a school of willing takers.
If the ’fin are not there, try dropping to the bottom, current permitting, particularly around the Kiama canyons. Blue eye trevalla, gemfish and other assorted ooglies of the deep abound but a good sounder is handy to help pick out the steep walls that these fish inhabit.
Mako and blue sharks now have taken over from the hammers, whalers and tigers so if sharks are your thing, the next few months will provide plenty of opportunities to tackle the unpredictable makos.
Over the inshore reefs and sand, bottom-bouncers will be doing it tough with the flathead slowing right down and the onslaught of the leatherjackets, sweep and mackerel making keeping a bait on the bottom a challenge.
There are a few mowies about, along with some nice pigfish and some squire but you will have to work hard for them.
Calamari might be worth a try over the inshore kelp beds; they often grab a pilchard meant for snapper. Don’t be too surprised if you hook a large cuttlefish on the squid jigs and at up to 10kg, they pull harder than the average squid.
In the estuaries, it’s all quiet this month with the flathead keeping their mouths firmly shut and only a few bream around the bridges in Minnamurra and in the feeder streams and rocky edges of Lake Illawarra.
Break-out story 1
NIGHT RESCUE EYES DIMMED
Here is another one from our ill-informed, short-sighted, penny-pinching politicians.
The Australian Aerial Patrol, based out of Wollongong, has had its funding withdrawn by the Federal Government for the infra-red, night-sensing search and rescue equipment it has fitted to its plane.
It is the only unit in NSW capable of searching for missing or stricken vessels and crew during darkness so for any anglers who own a boat this must be a great concern.
Every minute is crucial, particularly in the colder months.
It is not just anglers but professional and merchant shipping that will be affected. Other states have this equipment fitted to planes but we will be literally left in the dark.
The funding is around $120,000, which probably is not even the lunch bill for a week when Parliament sits, so while they are enjoying a feed you could be floating around in the dark hoping you make it until the sun comes up. Something to think about, isn’t it?
Hopefully commonsense will prevail and the funding will come through by the time this goes to print.
– Greg Clarke
Break-out story 1
Here’s one from the mad-keen basket. My mate Kev, who loves his fishing so much he is dangerous, was to head up the coast with us one Saturday morning not so long back.
The thing was, he didn’t take delivery of his new boat until the Thursday afternoon and he wanted to get his 10-hour service before he went. So he booked it in for Friday morning first thing – to strange looks from the marine centre staff.
No problems. He went straight down to Port Kembla Harbour with boat in tow and spent the next 10 hours – all night – charging around the harbour at various speeds and had the boat, with 10 hours on the motor, at the marine centre when it opened on Friday morning. Service complete, he was packed and on the road to South West Rocks at 3am Saturday.
Three weeks later, he headed home with a multitude of captures of marlin, big cobia, yellowfin tuna, kings, his target longtail over 24kg and a couple of monster mahi mahi to 25kg. The new boat went like a dream.
Just goes to show that if you prepare right and are keen, anything is possible.
– Greg Clarke
There are still a few bonito around the rocks for the early morning lure-tossers.
There will be plenty of snapper getting around at the end of the month and catches like this are on the cards with the right bait and berley.
Bream are the prime targets on the beaches and in the bays this month.Reads: 940