Midwinter mulloway madness
  |  First Published: July 2016

The depths of winter can spell tough fishing along this stretch of coast and there’s no denying that early starts aren’t exactly pleasurable. Throw in an icy southwesterly wind or a dreary, overcast day and simply being out there may become challenging.

On the flip side though, it’s common to score a string of nice, sunny days and an afternoon mission can be relaxing and potentially rewarding. Due to the shallow nature of Brisbane Waters and our lakes, water temperatures can actually rise slightly through the day and a minor increase of only 2- 3°C is often enough to get fish to open their mouths and take a bait or lure.

As is always the case at this time of year, luderick are one of our main species worth chasing. Recently I witnessed a couple of blokes hooking into a few at Budgewoi and a few days before that I also spotted a huge mob of luderick darting out from a weedy lake bank while I was lure casting for bream. Although I don’t fish for estuary dwelling luderick much these days, it was one of my long time angling interests for many years and seeing a few caught always sparks my enthusiasm.

For those who are yet to try luderick fishing, I strongly suggest making the small investment in a proper blackfish rod and traditional centrepin reel like one of the Alvey models. A small tackle kit with a few stem floats, small hooks, split shot and some decent quality 4-6lb fluorocarbon leader doesn’t cost much to put together and you’ll be good to go.

Some reliable winter luderick spots along the Central Coast include Woy Woy Channel, the bridges on the northern side of Woy Woy, throughout The Entrance area on both sides of the bridge, either end of Toukley Bridge and Budgewoi Channel. There are, of course, plenty of other spots where they can be caught, but any on this short list should probably be investigated first.

Stringy green weed, found growing right around the fringes of Tuggerah Lakes is the main type of bait used on our local fish, but if it’s a bit hard to find then most of the better bait and tackle shops sell the stuff. It can also be worth trying green sea lettuce or cabbage that grows around the ocean rocks and several types of dark brown coloured lake weed. So if the standard green weed isn’t working, take a look around and see if other anglers are catching fish with a different type of weed.

Bream numbers have been reasonably good this year, but the coming weeks can be tough. So the very best baits like bloodworms, mullet gut, chicken gut, freshly cut garfish or tailor and good quality prawns will be in with a better chance than second rate stuff. Lighter or finer lines and minimal sinker weight also help the cause.

At this point, my favourite cold water bream lure is the Daiwa Tournament Baby Vib and I have a particular preference for the Matt Shad colour, which has grey sides and an orange belly. I’ve also had good success with some other colours in the range, but for whatever reason, bream really do love that one!

Regardless of the exact lure type chosen, the general strategy over the coming weeks is to cast out wider, into deeper water and work lures at a slow pace, with plenty of pauses. Even when using metal vibes it’s quite common for bream to pluck at it on the bottom even after it’s been sitting there motionless for a while.

Berkley Gulps are another winter favourite and despite the popularity of some other plastics on the market these days, I reckon Gulps are still the deadliest overall for bream. The extra flavour or scent can be just enough to flick the switch and get a hesitant bream to take a bite, rather than just look or follow.

As I often mention, rock fishing is quite reliable through the winter months and it’s a great way to stay warm, climbing or walking around and hopefully finding a nice spot to fish in the sun, rather than shade. Having said that, if fish like bream or drummer are the target, then shaded water is normally more productive than spots with the sun beaming into the water. When it’s dull and overcast though, this obviously matters less.

Love them or hate them, salmon are now with us in their usual winter numbers. Last year we had a lot of very small salmon along the rocks and beaches. They’re okay to catch, but a tad boring compared with the 3kg sambos that used to be a lot more common through the cooler months.

Other fish that are on the cards this month are tailor around the rocks, beaches and inshore bommies as well as snapper, trevally and kingfish. There’s also a chance of mulloway along the beaches, but you’ll certainly have to be rugged up and wearing waders to fish into the night this month.

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