Holiday fishing in full swing
  |  First Published: January 2016

The beginning of a new year brings many different things, including some of the very best angling action of all. On the flip side, this is also a very busy time around the water, with boat ramps, beaches, headlands and estuaries seeing a lot of people out and about.

While not having the same sort of reputation as places like Coffs Harbour or Port Stephens, offshore fishing in our neck of the woods is still very good from now on. Each season a number of small black marlin come in very close to take anglers by surprise who may be targeting something a little less exotic. So it’s advisable to have an outfit rigged up and ready to send out a livebait if a beaky is spotted.

Of course, if marlin are the main priority then heading out to wider grounds is the logical option. The shelf and Norah Canyons are a long trip out, but if you’re running a smaller vessel then it’s still worth putting in some time at marks like the Perch Grounds. Even if marlin are a no show, there’s still a very good chance of running into some reasonable mahimahi around any marker buoys or kingfish down deep. Either way, stocking up on livies before venturing out there makes a lot of sense.

Smaller boats can still get stuck into some action within a few kilometres of the ramps at Norah, Terrigal or out from Broken Bay. Rat kingfish and bonito are the primary surface targets, but others ranging from tailor to mac tuna can also provide some lure casting fun.

The only potential negative aspects of offshore fishing this month are the predictable north easterlies through the afternoon period and some crowding at the ramps. This points to an early start being the best approach and that means getting to the ramp well before sunrise. Be aware too, that a strong northeasterly can make things difficult when coming back into the ramp at Norah Head, so keep an eye on that wind.

Rock fishing this month can still be a touch hit and miss, due to changing sea conditions. A general guideline is that winds with any sort of northerly airflow cool the water down and when a southerly blows up the coast warmer water is pushed in closer to the rocks. However, the stronger the wind from either direction, the more the seas get stirred up and waves start crashing over the rocks, so safety then becomes an issue. So visiting or local anglers can do well from checking the various weather websites like WillyWeather and the BOM coastal forecasts, as well as NBN weather, nightly at 6:50pm to get an idea of what the wind and seas should be doing. Gavin, the NBN weatherman, really knows his stuff and if ever I’m not fully sure from looking at websites, I’ll watch him to get the latest, most accurate forecast.

If all goes well though, tailor, bonito, kingfish and bream are some of the more reliable species on offer over the coming weeks. Traditional winter targets like luderick and drummer are also well worth chasing, particularly if the water seems a bit too cool for any surface action.

This region is blessed with a plethora is excellent rock fishing spots and the main areas of interest are Avoca, Terrigal, Norah Head, Munmorah and Catherine Hill Bay. Unfortunately though, many of the best ledges can get very crowded at this time of year, especially the big South Avoca platform and the rocks below Norah Head lighthouse. So it’s always worth taking a look at some of the lesser known or smaller rocky outcrops, as long as they’re safe to fish and don’t require a potentially hazardous climb to reach them.

Beach fishing tends to be easier than rock fishing through the holiday period, as you’re looking for decent sand formations, rather than a specific headland or point for example. Just like South Avoca, our most crowded beach fishing place is North Entrance. Yes, it’s a very reliable stretch of sand, from the lakes run out, north towards Majenta Shores, but so too are plenty of other spots from Pearl Beach, up to Catherine Hill Bay.

Whiting are a good holiday option, as they can be caught right through the day, although a rising tide is preferable. Bait, in the form of pipis can be gathered at your feet as waves recede, but good quality prawns and beach worms are normally stocked in shops and the worms are about the best bet for whiting along the beaches.

The lakes have been going very well in recent weeks, with loads of bream and a sprinkling of flathead and whiting. Brisbane Water is similar, but a few larger flathead can be expected, along with the chance of a mulloway or two.

The Entrance, Woy Woy and Patonga are about the most heavily fished places through the holidays, but don’t let the crowds put you off. By trying your luck a bit further away from all the boats and shore-based anglers you’ll still be in with a very good chance, without the hassles. For example, The Entrance Channel, around the bridge and down towards the mouth can get absolutely packed with people, yet just to the west, south or north of the islands there are still plenty of fish to be caught, with only the occasional boat or kayak in the vicinity.

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