Well we are definitely within the throes of winter now. It’s getting pretty cool both in and off the water. A half frozen foam seat to sit on at 6.00am really sends the message home!
Our part of the coast is seeing mass schools of boiling salmon, with tailor in with them and the odd bonito. As I say every winter though, you never know what is going to happen. In May I have seen great fish like late-running longtail tuna and some cracker snapper, so don’t give up yet. Just pick a day and if you see a number of baitballs or currents running along the coast, it can still hold good fish.
The salmon have been sitting in football ground sized schools from Swansea all the way up to the middle of Stockton Bight. Pilchards, chrome lures, shallow running hardbodies, almost anything you throw at them will get eaten. I have even caught them on bare hooks. I know some turn their noses up at these fish, but take a person who doesn’t fish much or at all, and put them onto a patch. Watch the smile widen until they’re having so much fun you can’t stop them — it’s a great thing to see.
North Reef is a good area to chase kingfish and big squid through this month. Hook one up as a live bait on solid gear and hold on.
Marbles Reef works well too. Fish the bottom with large peeled prawns or fresh crab, as groper feed over both these reefs through winter. The leatherjackets, sweep and trevally can be a pest, so go up in hook size so they can’t take the bait straight away. In closer on the reefs it’s been mother in law fish country, with pike very thick and causing headaches for a lot of small boat fishermen.
In the harbour, bream are still lurking, as are chopper tailor and school mulloway. These are all about 8-10kg, so great fish on light gear. Try the Stockton side of the dropoff along the channel markers. Squid and legal size tailor are the best baits, followed by yellowtail, all of which you can be caught on the Adolf Wreck.
Up around Hexham there’s flathead all year round as the water is a little warmer, but live baiting is definitely the best way. Soft plastics work alright if you get into the right area.
This month I will be hunting squid for the freezer and plate while waiting for the bigger kingfish to show up. The days of clear water and westerly winds are best. Drop a few jigs down when fishing and let the boat do all the work lifting and dropping them to entice the yummy morsels.Reads: 602