As I mentioned in last month’s report, the temperatures have come down now and the full force of winter is finally upon us. To be honest, we can’t complain, as the summer and autumn period was a lovely long one, so a little relief in the form of some cooler weather is a nice change. Despite the cool weather, fishing remains fairly good and there is a little on offer for most at the moment.
The salmon have started to come in for their annual run, which always provides plenty of exciting fishing for the whole family. Soft plastics around 3” in length on lightly weighted jigheads are effective for lure throwers. For bait anglers, the trusty pilchard floated out the back is another good option. Salts Bay should again be the number one go-to spot this year and the birds and crowds are usually a good indicator that the salmon are on the chew. Even when these salmon are about in big numbers, it’s still important to pay attention, as often you will find the odd solid kingfish lurking among the salmon schools. They are a very welcome by-catch during a salmon session.
The winter bream are also about at the moment, which is great to see, and there have been some very nice fish in the mix. Plenty of respectable bream between the 35-42cm mark have been caught. I’ve been pulling a few from the shallows, but certainly not the numbers that were there over the warmer months. During these cooler times I like to work the banks that are affected by the winter winds when they are blowing. This really stirs up the food supply and brings the fish on the bite. I make use of the electric motor to anchor off from the bank and pepper it with casts as I move along the bank working both hardbody lures and lightly weighted small soft plastics and crab style lures. You will also find some nice bream around the deeper boat moorings through the lake and in bays such as Chain Valley Bay. In these particular locations I like to use slightly heavier weighted soft plastics and vibe or blade style lures. Slow your retrieve down during these cooler months and you will see far better results.
Anglers who chase quality and less quantity will be best off working the bait balls in many of the deeper locations in the lake. Bolton Point and Coal Point are both great locations – work large soft plastics down deep in 8-10m of water and you’ll be in with a good chance of hooking some very large flathead and more than a fair chance of connecting to a lovely Lake Mac mulloway. Most mulloway will be around the 80-90cm mark, but there will certainly be a few over the magical 1m mark. By far my favourite option this time of year is working these deep locations with a 3-6kg outfit, 4-6” soft plastic on a jighead heavy enough to ensure I’m working the bottom sector. You will find plenty of 40-55cm flathead to keep you busy and to secure a feed for the family, but they are just to fill in time between the big ones and hopefully that Lake Mac mulloway.
Offshore fishing may not have the same appeal for many anglers as it does during the warmer months as the inshore marlin run is now done and dusted. However, for anglers that have a large offshore boat at their disposal, the possibility of hooking into some solid game fish is still very real. The fish will more often than not be quite wide over the cooler months and tuna will be on most serious offshore anglers’ minds at this time of year. You will often find the smaller tuna schooling and feeding out over the shelf and the Norah Head Canyon regions. Not all fish are smaller school size fish, and as we have seen in recent years both SBT and YFT up to 100kg are on the cards and a dream fish for many, if not all game fishing anglers. Several methods will find these models. One option is to set up a berley trail of cut fish pieces such as pilchard cubes and float out cube baits in the trail. The other option is to troll a spread of quality game lures. I’d suggest lures in the 6-8” size range and a variety of colours such as pinks, greens, blues and purples. I suggest if you’re serious about a crack at the tuna run this season, then stay fixed to social media reports and reports from local game fishing clubs and their members and be ready to go immediately as the tuna run off our part of the world can be very short lived each season – you need to make the most of it when it does happen.
For the offshore fisho chasing a little more accessible fish species, fishing some deeper offshore reefs at this time of year will produce good numbers of solid kingfish. Work deep water jigs, live baits and even large oversized soft plastics up to 9” to get into some good fishing. Anglers will also find good numbers of snapper on these same offshore reefs. If the weather permits, a floating bait or lightly weighted bait can be very effective, however the old paternoster rig is still a very effective option for bait anglers looking for a feed of quality reef fish.
So yes, it is cold, yes, the water temperature has dropped, but on the plus side, the waterways have less boat traffic and don’t be fooled, there are still plenty of fish to be caught for those anglers who put in the time and effort.Reads: 2026