If you want to land a big jewfish from the beach then this is the month. There will be a flourish of feeding activity over the coming weeks as they pack on the kilos before they start looking around for like-minded jewies that want to make little jewfish.
A high tide, preferably one better than 1.5m just after dark, and you are in business. Most open beaches with a bit of surf and a deep gutter will hold fish at some time over the month but the skill is in knowing when.
Fresh, big baits are also helpful, particularly if they are alive. If you can’t arrange live baits you may have to buy some fresh bait. Squid, tailor, whiting, mackerel, yellowtail and a favourite, blackfish, make great baits.
Even if your baits are being picked to pieces by bream and tailor, persevere and resist the temptation to scale down and chase these because, like all big fish, you have to think big to catch big.
The only time you scale down is to catch bait, particularly tailor.
Now that Lake Illawarra is running out, any good gutters on Windang Beach are worth a try and don’t be disappointed if you don’t score fish straight away. Big jewies are a waiting game. Once you put all the pieces together and it all falls into place, many more will usually follow.
If you would rather scale down and chase the smaller species there are school jewies about, particularly on the northern beaches, along with tailor after dark and salmon in the early mornings. Throw in good numbers of flathead and some bream and there is plenty of action.
If you want to grab some beach worms, the whiting are starting to make their mark with fair to good catches on most beaches. The area around the entrance to the lake is your best bet, with some decent whiting reported daily.
In the lake itself there is some great fishing which will only get better over coming weeks. Flathead seem to be everywhere and some are as good as have been seen in the lake for many years. A few flatties of better than 90cm have been caught, which is quite amazing when 70cm fish have usually been classed as big for the lake.
Up in the creeks, if you can get into them due to the tidal influence making the entrances to most very shallow even at half tide, there are still some nice bream about. I don’t care what lures you throw, live prawns fished into the snags under a very small float will outscore them 20 to 1.
Take a bit of bread up the creeks and tie up to a tree in some of the deeper parts, lay out a trail of bread on the falling tide and take on some of the big mullet on offer.
Back down in the main channel there are plenty of chopper tailor about and even a few nice trevally around the bridge to keep the kids amused.
The Minnamurra really starts to fire this month with flatties along its entire length while bream and the odd trevally are around the bridges. If you have worms or nippers, whiting and even a small salmon or two can be found down around the entrance, particularly on the big tides this month.
If you are using live poddy mullet for flatties, particularly further up-river, a big run that tears line of the reel at an incredible rate and busts you up may not always be a monster flathead. Some huge eels live around the weed beds and up in the mangroves and they tend to come out late in the afternoon. They can be over 10kg so that next big run could be Mr Slippery.
With the backwaters warming over coming weeks, the estuary scene looks great for the start of the holidays.
December is a strange month on the rocks with water temperature fluctuations causing havoc. Surface action with kings, bonito, salmon, and tuna in 23° water one day and nothing the next in 15° is a lottery but the good days are worth it.
There should be big kings on the deeper ledges down south around Kiama with live squid and slimy mackerel the gun baits, although yellowtail and even small salmon are good choices.
A few mackerel tuna could show up and from here on in it is shark time, with hammerheads often taking a liking to your hard-earned livies.
There are still trevally about if you berley heavily with bread and tuna oil and bait pilchard pieces in the trail. While bream are not swarming there are enough about if you fish light with royal red prawns around the shallow washes – but be prepared to trade off a few bust-ups when a big drummer shows up.
If you can get to it, Windang Island should be a prime spot for most species this month, particularly during the dark of the moon when the lake pours out prawns and baitfish on the run-out tide.
Offshore, the same temperature fluctuations will cause havoc and let’s hope it is not like the start of last season where water as cold as 14° lasted well into January for very patchy fishing. The water will warm and at the end of the month we could see the first of the black marlin but it will more likely be striped marlin over the next few weeks out deeper than 50 fathoms.
There have been yellowfin tuna about but they have been patchy with schools showing up on the shelf for a day, then disappearing for a few days. Most fish have been around 20kg and falling to pilchards.
Striped tuna have been everywhere with a good scattering of albacore from 10kg down to a kilo.
Just about all shark species are on offer this month with increasing numbers of whalers, hammers and tigers heading into January.
In closer there is plenty of surface action as salmon, kings, bonito and striped tuna terrorise the baitfish. Small lures cats into the churning schools will keep you busy.
The islands and Bass Point are producing reliable kings from now on. Live baits are the key, either drifted or slowly trolled around the peaks and drop-offs. You should see the kings on the sounder or look for bait schools and work your offerings around these.
The deeper reefs will have fish so drop live baits to the bottom and lifting them a few meters will get strikes. Don’t forget to keep a spinning outfit ready for when you hook up and cast a big soft plastic out behind the fish being landed and pick off any mates that may be with the hooked fish.
Big knife jigs worked at high speed while waiting for a live bait to get eaten will enhance your prospects and attract any fish in the vicinity.
There are still a few snapper about, particularly on fresh striped tuna. Most are only around a kilo but a few to 6kg have come in, generally from deeper water.
If the water does get warm, try one of the trag bumps during the evening on the full moon. These fish haven’t shown yet but they could be about this month and you usually score a feed of other species if the trag don’t show.
Flathead are popular and are hitting their straps with some nice fish from the northern sands up around Stanwell Park and Coalcliff and out off Port Kembla Beach. Bag limits of good lizards are the norm towards the end of the month if you can get past the leatherjackets, which still seem to be persistent pests.
If you stray onto the reefs there is a good variety available with mowies on tap along with small snapper, trevally, samson, quite a few pigfish, jackets, sweep and the odd teraglin.Reads: 2562