Last chance at a cuttlefish muncher
  |  First Published: August 2016

If you haven’t already got among the snapper, the first few weeks of this month will be your last chance to get out and into them before they start to taper off and move further offshore and along the coast.

This is not to say that it will all be over as some will stay a bit longer, and some may even like the place so much that they hang about, but they too will be picked off over the coming weeks and into spring.

The same techniques will work this month as they have over the previous weeks, but coming to the end of the season the fish will be all that much more cautious, with full bellies, they become more choosy about what they eat.

If your presentation is not right on the mark, or is not the cuttlefish candle, you may struggle a bit. The good old pick and berley over your chosen reef is a good option, as there are plenty of trevally moving over the reefs at this time of the year, so you should be kept busy between snapper runs.

One factor that must be taken into account is the wind and if it keeps up like the past few months, where we have had great week days and nasty weather on the weekend, then it may get difficult. If you must fish in the wind, stay in close, as this is where the better fish seem to be.

In these situations, the estuaries are an option, but you must have patience. The water is cold and clear and the fish, be it bream or flathead, will be choosy about what they eat.

The tributaries will be worth a look for bream around the snags with peeled prawns. A canoe will be handy for this, but you can walk the banks too, with most fish encountered being better than your average summer fish.

Alternatively, you could fish around the bridge pylons of the lake and Minnamurra on the run-out tide during the evenings. It’s cold, but it can be very rewarding.

For the flatties, the lower reaches of the lake and Minnamurra are the places to target as the bigger fish gather in this area at this time of the year.

When you do get a solid fish, do the marlin thing and leave it in the water so its weight is supported and take a pick from over the side of the boat if you can. If it gets off the hook, it doesn’t really matter, because you were going to let it go anyway. Most big fish at this time of the year are breeders, so the less trauma, the better.

Or for a bit of fun, you could try the lake breakwalls for salmon and tailor on the start of the run-out tide. It is safe and easy, unless you get right out the front, then it would be like fishing the rocks. The rocks can be dangerous in rough weather, so you will have to be vigilant this month. However, with the westerly winds you will get a few extra calm windows, where places that normally can’t be fished will be accessible for some big drummer and groper. The downside is the ocean will come back and be violent, so be very aware when on the rocks, and at the first sign of any swell coming back, leave.

The deeper ledges will have the obligatory salmon and a few tailor and with the addition of a bit of berley, some nice trevally, but it too will be tough going. When the sea is up and bumping, the sheltered bays and harbours will have plenty of blackfish and drummer with a few bream and trevally thrown in. Bellambi Harbour, Wollongong Harbour and the Boneyard at Minnamurra are worth a look, but rain, cold weather and wind generally go with a bumpy ocean, so it can be a bit uncomfortable. It’s still better than watching the TV!

The beaches are worth a look, even though the species list is way down on the warmer months, and there is still enough action to keep you interested. The bigger mulloway will be about during the cold winter evenings, but they won’t be about in large numbers, so everything must be right to come out on top.

Fresh bait is the key, with a slab of fresh tailor the top bait this month. There are a few tailor about during the evenings, so turning your pilchard into a tailor and then into a mulloway is the way to go.

Turning your pilchard into a salmon, then repeating the process several times will be more likely, but if the tailor don’t show, a slab of salmon will work on the mulloway as well. A few bream are showing on the beaches as well, with some of the better spots this month being Stanwell Park Beach, Coniston Beach behind Wollongong golf course, and Windang beach.

Offshore can be tough if you are chasing anything other than the snapper and trevally in close due to the nature of the changing weather.

Out around the shelf there could well be some yellowfin tuna as they were taken in good numbers by the long liners 100km offshore and beyond a few weeks ago, so if the currents are friendly we may get a few in closer.

Mako sharks will be about, as they are every August, with big ones out around the shelf and smaller ones in around the closer reefs, and sometimes big ones come in too. They can be fun and are not bad on the chew, but they are fond of stealing snapper, so they can be a nuisance.

Stripped tuna are a good option, and big ones always seem to show up this month and are one of my favourite sportfish. A 7-8kg stripy on light gear will test the very best in your angling ability. Even better, when the snapper start to get a bit fussy a piece of fresh stripy will always swing the odds back in your favour, as everything with fins loves to eat striped tuna.

Over the deeper reefs a few kingfish should start to show over the coming weeks with down rigged live baits and knife jigs the way to go. Bandit and Wollongong are worth a look and the Hump up off Stanwell Park is also worth checking out, but it always seems to be crowded with boats from Sydney.

For the bottom bouncers, it is a tough month with few sand flathead about, but what you do get will generally be bigger fish. While the plagues of leatherjackets we have had over the past few years seem to have thinned out a bit, this month has always seen plenty of jackets gather over the reefs, so if you want a feed of leatherjackets then get out there now.

To add to the bite off, gear losing potential, the barracouta have also started to make an appearance so take plenty of hooks with you.

A few smaller snapper are coming in from most of the closer reefs with trevally, the odd morwong and quite a few pigfish rounding out the catches.

August is a tough month but spring is just around the corner. Bring it on.

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