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Cracking croakers crowd the beaches
  |  First Published: July 2016



I’m not one to complain about the winter, as I love all the seasons and the fishing they bring, and this winter is looking to be a cold one.

Offshore

It was the end of June last year when we had our bluefin turn up, so by the time you are reading this they should be on our doorstep. Last year was very patchy and they seemed to have preferred the waters further south and the southern part of Australia had a mind-blowing run of them. This has put into the minds of anglers up here to make a planned trip for the bluefin rich waters of Victoria, if they have the time, as that could be a good idea. Keep in mind that it’s going to be packed down there and nothing beats catching amazing fish in your own backyard.

If this year is like previous years, these fish are going to be wide, very, very wide. So a good understanding of charts, a good depth sounder and a big fuel tank can put you in the zone for an early season bluefin. You’ve got to cover the miles to get the smiles when it comes to bluefin. As we move through July, we are hoping these guys will be moving and schooling closer to the coast.

A lot of people come into the shop asking about lures, brands, sizes and colours. I don’t think it matters too much, just as long as you’ve got four or more out there behind the boat and maybe a teaser. The favourites of the past in hardbodies have been Rapala X-Raps, Halcos, River to Sea killervibes and The Halco Max.

In the skirted lure department, I run medium size skirts from 7” up and I’ll put out a bright pink, lumo and a dark or purple colour combo. I like running the heavy-weighted heads of the Marlin Magic Baby or Infant Blues. They are heavy jetheads that run perfect in any sea. So if there is a bit of chop you can rely on them to stay in the water and swim perfect.

Other lures I run are Black Barts, Polu Kai, and to support the Aussies, I run JB, Tornado, Star Lures and Southern Cross lures. I have my spread of lures spread out at different lengths with the shotgun lure running right out the back so there is a great area being covered by your lures out the back of the boat.

Having lures running in different positions, different depths, different lure colours and different lure sizes is a great idea.

If you do find what you think is bluefin on the sounder and they don’t come to the surface, than the quickest way to hook up is to drop jigs down to them and then while you are doing that, start cubing. There is a lot of talk on what to cube with and how much to pay.

You can use trap bait, IQF pilchards or even freshly trolled up stripey tuna for cubing. Bluefin aren’t too fussy and if you opt for the cheaper option, being trap bait, then that is okay. You can expect to pay $40-50 for a 15kg box. Then there is IQF single frozen pilchards, but I think there is some various quality out there and buying from trusted tackle shops is a good idea. I have heard of 15kg boxes going for as low as $60. But knowing the prices of the wholesale distributors, I find it hard to get good quality IQF single frozen pilchards from Western Australia under $70 and expect to pay $80-90 for a 15kg box. When you are paying that, you know you are getting the goods.

Moving inshore people have been getting their arms stretched by the odd winter king, but they remain to be a very illusive fish. Ulladulla is good at keeping their bite quiet and had a good little run through autumn and Montague remained the most consistent area in the region. The Batemans area and to Moruya had some moments, but was very fickle. We should see these guys getting over shadowed by a more consistent snapper bite and they have been consistent leading into winter with some good shallow water snapper being on the chew.

Rocks and headlands

For most anglers, the action at this time of the year is on the rocks and off our beaches. The ever-consistent drummer is the main target if you want fish on the table for winter. This would be my main priority if I wanted a feed for the family.

After the drummer, the snapper is your prize rock platform catch. Throw in some bream and the odd groper, and you’ve got the reason why rock fishing on the south coast is a stable past time.

Nothing much has changed when targeting these fish. Mix your leftover bread in the shallow to nearly empty rock pool of water with a bit of sand added and berley every 10-15 minutes. Pick out some cunjevoi at low tide or bring along cooked prawns and you’ll be converting that into drummer.

Snapper still love squid and bream fall for unweighted prawns, but are occasionally tempted with plastics. Groper are the crab munchers but can be a surprise catch when they are tempted by any of the above mentioned baits.

beaches

The beaches are another great place to be this winter, and those chasing salmon and tailor throughout the day with metal lures should be in for a good time.

During the nights, our beaches will be alive with the sound of massive croaking mulloway! Layton Brant has showed persistence pays by cracking not one, but two nice ones coming in at nearly 130cm each! It looks like they are off to a good start for this winter.

Estuaries

The estuary? What are you doing in the estuary!? But if you must, you would be one of those flathead lovers who won’t give up. There are some monster flathead caught here every year, so flathead fishing is worth a shot.

You can also search the deeper holes for bream as they retreat to deeper water as the weather cools

Bass, you are dead to me.

It’s winter, so come in a buy a pie oven for your boat and live like kings! Happy fishing.

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