Late winter sambo invasion
  |  First Published: August 2016

As we begin to say farewell to winter’s icy grip, so it’s natural to assume fishing will soon kick back into gear. Unfortunately, the truth is water temperatures are about a month or more behind land or air temperatures, which means an increase in fish activity is a little way off just yet.

The bright side is that it’s starting to be more comfortable for us to get out on the water nice and early, without our fingers turning to ice. Providing westerly winds aren’t too strong, there are also plenty of fish to be caught this month.

At any time of year a key aspect of angling success is to specifically target a certain species and this becomes even more important this month, as there are generally fewer species on offer. Colder and clearer water also means that what fish we do have may be tricky to fool unless we put some extra thought and effort into the process. Lighter line, finer leaders, better baits or lures and a methodical approach is what’s needed in August or it’s very easy to catch nothing at all.

Much to the delight of some and dismay of others, salmon are out in full force now and they’re definitely the most abundant species along the rocks, beaches and the inshore strip up to 2km from the shore. Of course, patchy numbers of salmon also scatter themselves around the lakes and Brisbane Waters.

It’s interesting to see that over the past few years the sambos turning up along the Central Coast have become a much smaller average size than they used to be. Yes, we’re still getting the usual 2-3kg fish, with a sprinkling of bigger models, but a large number of them are also rats of less than 1kg or around 45-50cm. At this size they’re still fun to catch on typical bream tackle, but when you’re so used to bigger salmon, these little ones do seem a bit pathetic!

A lot of local anglers simply accept the fact that we get this salmon invasion through the cold months and enjoy getting stuck into a few, while other species are largely absent or just too difficult to catch. They’re a great fall back when you just want to get a bend in the rod or put the kids onto a bit of fishing fun.

However, there are a few other options worth considering, as tailor, bream, trevally, luderick, drummer and groper are all reasonably common along the rocks at this stage of winter, with a few trevally, tailor, bream and the odd mulloway mixing it with the sambos on the beaches.

Without doubt, pillies are one of the most attractive baits to salmon, so if you’re using them for bream or tailor then salmon can be expected as well. On the other hand, baits such as crabs, cunje, green cabbage or bread fished close in around the rocks are likely to attract other fish without any interference from salmon.

Aside from baits, perhaps the biggest issues facing rock and beach anglers in August are the wind and sea conditions. We’ve already copped a lot of westerly wind this year and August and September are traditionally very windy. These winds also flatten out the seas and while it’s easy to fish the rocks, the fish can become very wary and harder to tempt.

We’ve also endured periods with monstrous swell pounding the coast, which has completely wiped out any chance of rock or beach fishing at times. Overall, flat seas are more likely in the coming weeks, but either way picking the right day to get out is never an easy task as we move towards spring.

Offshore fishing is just as challenging and at times hardly worth thinking about. If weather and sea conditions allow though, the main options are to head way out to Texas or the Perch Grounds for kingfish and bonito or stick in close, perhaps sheltered from westerly winds and try to have a bit of fun catching salmon and trevally on light tackle.

Inside calmer waters, luderick are still the main species worth thinking about now, but bream, flathead and whiting are always a possibility when using high quality baits or working lures slowly and methodically through deeper water.

August is definitely not one of our better months, but if having a bit of fun with the sambos appeals to you, then by all means get out there and enjoy the action. For all other species it’s probably going to take a bit of extra effort to extract a few. If things aren’t overly successful, don’t worry, as you won’t be the only one struggling this month!

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