Rug up and get out there!
  |  First Published: May 2015

The months just keep rolling by in 2015 and I cannot believe how quickly they have gone. The change of seasons is well and truly upon us now and things have cooled right off. Ambient temperatures have fallen considerably and the water temperatures have also declined.

The fishing has also dropped off — just kidding! This could not be further from the truth. The weather may have gone cold, but the fishing remains red hot in our part of the world. Whether chasing fish in the lake, off the headlands, or 20nm out to sea, there is something there for all to get excited over. The hardest part is getting out of bed and into gear, but once you do, you won’t regret it.

It’s that time of year when the rock fishing anglers are in their element. The run of longtail tuna has them chasing these schools of fish from our part of the country all the way up to the mid and far north coast. There has been some great fishing, with tuna to 20kg in the mix. Floating out live baits is a very effective method and the results speak for themselves.

Another extremely popular way of targeting these tuna is spinning with large, heavy stickbaits such as Ocean Potions. The anglers who chase these fish put in an enormous effort and there are often stories of heartbreak from bust offs on big tuna, but when it all goes to plan and they get their targeted species, you won’t find a happier angler out there. Enjoy the tuna run guys, and stay safe during it.

Offshore over the past few months has certainly been hectic. Many game fishing tournaments have been run and won up and down our east coast, with crews travelling long distances to participate in these events. The marlin bite was hot and cold this season, but overall there were some spectacular days out there. One successful local Central Coast GFC boat Finfisn consisted of hubby and wife Nathan and Amanda Bajada, and on occasions their little girl Chloe. This family fished pretty hard and the results came their way, with Amanda doing very well on the marlin. Little Chloe refused to be outdone by mum and she managed to tag 5 mahimahi on 6kg during the Broken Bay tournament. This won Chloe the champion small fry tag and release trophy. Great effort and well done to the team.

The mahimahi season overall was not as spectacular, but there were a few solid fish well over the 1m mark. Rats under the legal size limit plagued the FADS though. With the hot weather now behind us, all the attention for these offshore crews and their boats switches to 1 fish — tuna. This time of year traditionally sees a good run of both yellowfin and lately southern bluefin tuna. These fish have massively increased in numbers over recent years and it is a fantastic thing to see for the sport, as they were thought to be lost forever to NSW anglers throughout the 1990s.

Your best bet for anglers fishing off here would be to run out to the Norah Head Canyons. I’d suggest pulling a spread of skirted lures in the 6-9” range and if you do find the fish schooled up, then by all means pull the lures in and start cubing with pilchards. It’s important to stock up on pilchards before heading out, as bait can often be hard to come by during the cooler months and you don’t want to find the fish schooled up and have nothing to offer them.

As a rule, 10-15kg outfits will suffice, however, if you are out wide pulling lures and there are reports of larger ’fin around, then I’d certainly be inclined to run 24kg outfits as these fish can grow up to 100kg.

Offshore is not just about game fishing in winter. There have been some great catches of snapper coming from the many reefs we have scattered throughout the region. Stickbaits and other long, slender style soft plastics are working well and good fish to 5kg are not uncommon. Bait anglers have also been taking a few good catches, with pilchards and squid being the best baits.

The reefs further offshore are also producing some great numbers of kingfish. Jigging with 200-400g jigs is common practice these days, but a deep-set live bait is also undoing many solid kings. The reefs off Norah Head and Terrigal are especially productive during these cooler periods.

The lake is not missing out on the action either, so if you are not that keen on roughing it offshore or crawling over our rock ledges, then that’s not a problem. There are plenty of tasty species on offer over the cooler seasons and they really start firing up from now for the next few months.

For those who love targeting big flathead, you will need to change techniques from your summer approach, as it’s time to start working the deeper water. I like to find baitballs in the 8-10m mark and fish beneath them, as this is often where large numbers of flathead lay and wait for an easy feed of scraps that fall to the bottom as the tailor smash through the bait. Large soft plastics on jigheads heavy enough to get to and stay on the bottom are required. That may mean jigs as heavy as 1oz, so jig your plastics instead of spinning them and you will be hooked-up in no time.

Mulloway are often landed as bycatch by anglers chasing a feed of flathead, but for those that wise up to some careful reading of their sounders, they will be able to clearly identify the fish and start producing them more consistently. I like to drift a large soft plastic on a heavy jighead from the rod holder while I spin with a slightly smaller, lighter offering from the front casting deck. I can’t tell you how many solid fish have come from the large plastic fished out of the rod holder over the years.

Bream also tend to go deep during these cooler months, and locations such as the deeper bays around the southern parts of the lake towards Chain Valley Bay, Mannering Park and the like generally see the better specimens. Anglers working smaller 2-3” soft plastics and blade style lures will reap good rewards.

Bait anglers have been getting some nice fish in both Salts Bay and Belmont Bay. Prawns and squid strips, I’m told, are producing good bags. The key is to remember to berley if bait fishing for bream. This really helps draw and hold the school to your location.

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