It took a bit longer to cool down this year, but we are now well and truly in the grip of winter. Over the coming weeks, many aspects of fishing along the Central Coast will gradually change, some for the better, others for worse.
For many years I’ve embraced what rock fishing has to offer through the cooler months, as one of my all-time favourite species, luderick are normally at their peak around the rocks at this time of year. Fishing with small baits in the washy zone close in around the rocks will score you a good mixed bag of excellent eating fish without too much trouble with winter regulars like bream, drummer and trevally featuring.
I don’t bother with any sort of extra berley when specifically chasing luderick (blackfish) with green cabbage baits. Pick a regular luderick spot identified by the presence of lots of green cabbage and weed growth on the lower ledges and fish a rising tide.
Things can get tough if westerly winds flatten out the seas and the water becomes too clear. The fish are still there, but they may stay down deeper, closer to reef, rock or kelp and it’s harder to get them to take bait. To combat this it’s worth experimenting a bit with the depth of your rig. Go deeper and cast out wider towards any small patch of reef that may be visible. If that fails, get the bait much closer in and more particularly, under consistent patches of whitewash.
Another approach is to use baits like white bread, cunjevoi, peeled prawns or crabs. These will interest bream, drummer and groper. Silver trevally and luderick may be attracted to these baits as well, but to appeal to trevally add cut pieces of pilchard, pink nippers and even pipi baits. White bread will attract all of these species apart from groper, crab baits will attract all, but aren’t so good for luderick or trevally. In any case, regardless of exactly which bait is chosen, mixed bags can be expected.
Bread, soaked in seawater and mashed to a fine pulp is undoubtedly the best form of berley for winter rock fishing. I’m happy to use just the bread itself, but some experienced rock hoppers also like to mix in other ingredients ranging from chicken pellets to chopped up green weed or old prawn heads and shells. One of the most important keys to successful berleying around the rocks is to throw in small amounts often, rather than large amounts infrequently.
Another form of rock fishing that’s reasonably consistent along the Central Coast over the coming weeks is lure casting for tailor and salmon. This month there should also still be the occasional bonito and kingfish, with a chance of mulloway in some locations. Overall, winter rock spinning is largely about tailor and salmon. Be on the rocks early, just before sunrise will make for better fishing. Don’t worry about the cold; hurling lures from the rocks will warm you up in no time. Get into some action and it won’t take long to work up a sweat!
Beach fishing can be reasonable this month, although most of us would probably be a lot more comfortable wearing waders than going barefoot. The water may still have a bit of warmth to it, but walking on sand early in the morning or at night can be pretty cold on the feet.
Through autumn I hooked into plenty of tailor and salmon, while other anglers caught sharks, mulloway, bream and whiting. It has been a pretty good run of beachfishing, so I see no reason for things to change this month. No doubt salmon numbers will continue to increase as the sea temperature cools down more.
Offshore fishing generally remains good this month, although westerly winds can hamper things at times. Closer in we should have some reliable fishing around inshore reefs and bommies for trevally, tailor, snapper and flathead. Those using livebaits on heavier gear should also expect the odd mulloway and kingfish.
Keen anglers with bigger fuel tanks may prefer to head further out in search of yellowfin or do some jigging for kings and bonito around Texas and the perch grounds. Once again, it’s largely up to the westerly winds or lack of them, so keep a close eye on weather forecasts.
Back inside calmer waters, bream and luderick are our main winter species. I walked over the bridge at The Entrance the other day and spotted plenty of luderick along the edges of the channels and saw a few caught as well, so the future looks promising. Bream shouldn’t be too hard to tempt, but if you’re using lures remember to slow down a bit and try deeper water as we move further into winter.Reads: 222