All the desirable offshore species biting
  |  First Published: August 2015

It’s August already and winter has flown by this year. Calm conditions have been a regular occurrence of late and the weather has even been fair on weekends for a change, leaving no excuses but to get out and give it a crack, as you never know what you might catch.

At this time of year, bottom fishing is all the go offshore. It has been firing from the shallow inshore reefs right out past the continental shelf. Black Rock has been holding snapper and kingfish, the majority of which aren’t huge, but the number being caught has been exceptional. Fish Rock, on the other hand, has been holding some thumping big kingfish at times this winter, as have the deeper wrecks along our coastline. Larger knife jigs are probably the easiest way to fish these areas. Live baits of yellowtail and slimy mackerel can be very effective when the conditions are right on the wrecks, however, this approach is not allowed around Fish Rock.

Live bait gathering has been fairly painless lately, with good numbers of yellowtail, slimy mackerel and bonito inhabiting most of the inshore bait reefs. It pays to take extra bait jigs with you, as tailor and pike are also frequenting these same spots and can make light work of the flies.

Low current and fair wind conditions have been allowing anglers to get out a bit wider and partake in deep dropping on a fairly regular basis. Bass groper, bar cod and hapuka are some of the species being encountered regularly. Some days the gemfish are out in force, making it difficult to get to the more quality species and being very hard on terminal tackle.

Big pearl perch are on the reefs in around about 100m depths, however, these areas are starting to hold large schools of leatherjackets. Switching over to a wire rig when bite-offs occur will allow for the capture of these fish if you want to keep them for a feed, but will definitely decrease your catch rate of most of the other bottom species.

Snapper, teraglin, pigfish, tuskfish and mulloway are all being found in the shallower areas in good numbers should the leatherjackets become too hectic out wider. Grassy Head has a lot of good territory in close, so most of the time there is no need to fish in water deeper than about 40m and still have a productive day.

Good runs of big bream are still taking place along most of the beaches. This year the bream seem to be of a larger size than they have been the last few years. Tailor and mulloway are accompanying these fish as well. Australian salmon have made a bit of a comeback along our coastline this year, with numbers that have not been seen for a few seasons now. Salmon may not be of the highest table quality, but they are an awesome sportfish in their own right. I cannot think of a better way for a junior angler to hone their big fish fighting skills than by tangling with a 5kg salmon on the beach using light gear. Flathead and whiting have also remained on the bite along the beaches throughout winter.

The Macleay River is holding some good-sized mulloway at present, and a huge population of bream that stretches all the way up-river to Smithtown. Be cautious when fishing up around Smithtown though, as this area is also holding massive schools of spawning bass. It is a good idea not to interrupt this species and their breeding cycle too much if possible.

Luderick have been present in the main river this year, but the local creeks seem to be producing the better class of fish for some reason.

The headlands throughout the valley are all holding bream, school mulloway and tailor, as would be expected at this time of year, however, kingfish, cobia and longtail tuna are still being spotted from the stones on a regular basis. Drummer and groper are in good numbers, with the gaol wall at Trial Bay as good a place as any to start looking for them.

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