Summer speedsters give way to winter reefies
  |  First Published: June 2015

Out come the beanies and warm clothes once again, and with the cold weather a vast range of winter fish species to the Macleay Valley. Winter days, although short, usually bring settled conditions, making offshore fishing quite pleasant once you get past the cold, dark mornings.

Pearl perch, snapper and teraglin are already around in great numbers, with the better fish holding on the deeper reefs of about 70m plus. The current has backed right off and should stay fairly calm throughout winter.

Light tackle jigging using Bottom Ship, Lucanus, Pirate and micro jigs is an awesome way to access these fish at these depths, and is easily as productive as using bait or soft plastics. The fact that these jigs are made of metal makes them far more durable, especially if there are undesirables about. I find this form of fishing the reefs very enjoyable, as it keeps you more active, and when you catch a fish you are never sure what it is going to be.

Like all offshore fishing, the conditions will play an important part in your success when using these methods. Venus tuskfish, pigfish and mulloway will also become regular catches off the local reefs as winter progresses.

June is a very popular time for deep dropping once again, due to settled conditions and the lack of current. Bar cod, bass groper, blueye and John dory are around, as well as a whole array of bizarre species from the depths. Kingfish also frequent these deeper reefs and wrecks.

The pelagics have mostly slowed up now, as the water is beginning to cool down. There has been a few mackerel, however, most have just been by-catch while fishing for snapper.

Yellowfin tuna have been around, with some solid schools popping up in different places at times. These fish are falling for bibbed and skirted lures, as well as live baits and pilchards fished down a berley trail.

The beaches are alive with runs of spawning bream and mullet at present. Large mulloway, tailor and salmon accompany these schools, and can be found only metres from the shoreline. Metals, minnows and soft plastics will account for plenty of big fish off the beaches over the next few months. Live baits and beachworms are equally productive if they are available.

These large predators will also hold up on the headlands whenever bait is present. The rock ledges are fishing well for groper and drummer. They’re suckers for a good berley trail, so put in the effort and you will be rewarded.

Bigger mulloway are present along the walls of the lower Macleay, and thousands of school-sized fish are spread throughout the system up to about Smithtown and the Belmore River. There are plenty of legal sized fish amongst these schoolies, and they put up an awesome fight when targeted on bream gear. Beachworms, live mullet or herring and 5” soft plastics are consistent performers when chasing these fish.

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