Winter has finally caught up with us fishos! A few frosty mornings here and there, some harsh westerly winds no doubt and maybe even a hint of snow on the nearby hills of Sassafras make us all want spring and summer to hurry up and visit us once more! I don’t mind the cold, I love rugging up and hitting the beaches in search of that elusive winter mulloway or going onto the stones to chase big winter drummer from the ledges.
Both of these are pretty good options, especially towards the end of the season when the westerly winds begin to puff. The majority of rock ledges offer shelter from winds and if the beaches are steep enough there will be shelter from the dunes. You can always rely on good numbers of salmon around this time of year, and usually of pretty good size. They are always fun to catch and give you a workout on the light gear. If you want to keep a couple for a feed the good old Thai fishcakes are an option here – mincing the fish up helps to disguise the taste of this below-average table fish.
If you’re after some of the best table fish the ocean has to offer, pick a good weather pattern with not too much wind and try and coincide your trip with a time when the current isn’t running too hard and hit the continental shelf with the deep dropping gear. A good season so far, the deep droppers have caught plenty of ling, cod, gem fish and some XOS blue-eye trevalla for those in the know! The electric rod and reel outfit is a must for this form of fishing, as doing it the old fashioned way one to one on the good old Alvey deck winch is quite a workout and will quickly become tedious as the person next to you flicks a switch on his electric reel and sits back with a drink. There is definitely an art to this style of fishing as you have to take everything into account including your drift, the current, the tide and the depth and knowing where your bait is going to be when it finally gets to the bottom – it’s no good to find the right location, drop your rig and then finding yourself 100m from that location by the time your bait descends the 500-600m drop.
If you’re not into travelling miles offshore in search of a good table fish, then winter on the south coast is prime time in close for big reds, and we haven’t been disappointed so far. Some cracking fish have already been taken on the close inshore reefs and some very impressive fish have been found inside Jervis Bay. Both soft plastics and bait are working with the early morning bite proving to be the better time in conjunction with either a low or high tide change. If you’re after fresh bait for the reds or indeed a feed for yourself, squid have been plentiful in the bay since about March and are kicking on right through winter. Hopefully the plagues of leatherjacket don’t return that cost squidders hundreds of dollars in jigs.
Moving into the Shoalhaven/Crookhaven system and from all reports it’s been one of the better seasons in years. The river has held success for the mighty mulloway, usually you hear more about the soft plastic fishers having the results, but this season it’s been the bait fishos taking the glory with some anglers managing several large fish in a session. Live yellowtail and slimy mackerel, although hard to catch sometimes, have accounted for most fish, fished in the slack of the tide or in the swirling eddies created by hard running tides.
That should give you some sort of scope as to what’s happening and what you should be doing to try and catch yourself a feed this winter. Catch up with you all next month! Johnny out.Reads: 1781