The cold was a little late this year but it certainly hit with a bang. The ambient and sea temperatures have fallen dramatically and we finally have the winter we are used to. With temperatures now averaging 15-20°C, anglers must adapt to the cooler conditions if they are to ensure they get their share of the action in the cooler months.
There are a few key things to remember when it comes to fishing during the cooler months of the year here on Lake Macquarie, NSW. The fish are still there and for some species they’re in better numbers and quality during cooler periods, so make a few small changes and capitalise on it.
The main thing for lure anglers is to slow down your retrieve. As a rule I also tend to downsize my lures a little as well. Regardless of species, if you slow down that retrieve, add a few slightly longer pauses that may be all that is needed to turn an ordinary day into an action packed one. As regular readers of my article know, I love to hit the deeper water during the cooler months. Just as you need to adapt your fishing style to maximise your chances in the winter months I also believe if you ensure you are dressed to the conditions you will be far more comfortable out there, you will enjoy it more and the more relaxed you are the better the results you will see. Spend a few dollars to get good, warm clothing, and take a few extra moments to make that thermos of coffee before you head out. Trust me – you will be glad you did!
Some bream anglers I know don’t get overly excited about lure fishing for bream during cooler months. They love topwater hardbodies, a technique that won’t achieve as much at this time of year. In saying that, I love slowly working 2-3” soft plastics or small 3-5g vibes/blades around deeper sections of the lake that may be over cockle beds or weed beds or even where rocky edges drop into the deeper sections. It may not be as exciting as topwater fishing, but it is still a great option and trust me, plenty of fun is to be had along with good results if you do opt to give it a go. Chain Valley Bay has been a favourite for many anglers over the years during winter months, although it has lost a little of its appeal over recent years with poorer results but I for one will be back down there again this year to try my luck as I’m sure there are still good fish to be found.
Bream anglers should also score some good numbers by using these same methods around boat moorings and off the edges of jetties. You may find small tailor a problem at times but it’s just a matter of persisting and sifting through them for the better bream that are in the mix – or trying another bay until you find the bream.
Salts Bay and around Moon Island are jam packed with solid salmon schools again this year. It really is great fun and bait anglers, fly fishers and lure throwers are all out there getting into them. Generally half pilchards of even whole pilchards with no weight is the key for bait anglers and lure fishers love small 3” minnow style soft plastics. I like a jighead weight of around 1/4oz and a hook size of about 2/0.
Flathead have been a little slow to come on the chew in the deep this year as a result of the delay in the cooler weather, but we are now finding some good numbers and good-sized fish in the deep and there are a few mulloway in the mix as well, which is great news.
The big news this year is the number of very reasonable snapper we are seeing in the lake. Since the removal of the commercial fishers from the lake the fishing has improved out of sight and I can only assume that these quality snapper are also a result of the ban on commercial fishing here on the lake. Lure anglers have been catching some very nice reds in that 50-65cm range which is fantastic to see in our lake and a great sign for us in the years to come.
Offshore anglers have come across the odd blue marlin but they are few and far between that’s for sure. Some reasonable yellowfin tuna have also been encountered. Most crews pull a spread of skirted game lures in that 6-8” range. Most boats will include a deep diving hardbody lure in their spread if specifically targeting tuna on the troll.
The offshore reefs are producing some quality table fish. Nice-sized snapper and plenty of great kingfish are filling the eskies of many boats heading offshore. Live baits are proving effective and claiming a few very nice mulloway, which is not bad by-catch in anyone’s language.
The beaches have also produced the goods for many anglers. Some really good tailor and salmon schools have been working the beaches up and down our part of the coast. Bait anglers are doing well on fish type baits such as pilchard cubes and strips of mullet. A few anglers have also thrown around soft plastics from the beaches, and they too have nailed some good fish.
So there you have it for this month. Sure it’s cold and it’s a little hard to get motivated. But do yourself a favour, put the effort in and give it a go, you might just be pleasantly surprised at your results.Reads: 357