Long, hot days, cricket on TV, flies and end-of-year work parties – December seems to come around too quickly but the good news is that most of us will have some time off work to wet a line and hopefully bring home a feed of fresh fish.
This month I'm going to depart from the normal format and offer 10 tips to help improve your fishing results over the holiday period. With a little thought put into your fishing, there's every chance of having your line stretched and enjoying a few fresh fillets on the dinner table. So here we go.
Grab a tide chart from one of the local tackle shops or check the tides towards the back of this issue of Fishing Monthly. Tides are of little consequence throughout most of the Tuggerah Lakes system but they are important at The Entrance, in Brisbane Water, off the rocks, beaches and offshore. Nine times out of 10 a rising tide is the best time to fish, with the high peak a top time to have a bait in the water, particularly when fishing the beaches or offshore.
You'll hook more fish when using light lines, sharp hooks and minimal sinker weight. In some cases you can do away with a sinker altogether, especially when fishing for bream in some parts of Brisbane Water and Tuggerah Lakes.
Lighter sinkers or weightless baits are also a good idea when it comes to rock fishing for bream, tailor or drummer and you won't get snagged as much, either. The only times it may pay to use heavy sinkers are when beach fishing or bottom-bouncing offshore in deep water or when the current is raging.
Strong north-easterly breezes are the dominant wind this month and into January, but these winds don't normally pick up until mid-morning. On the other hand, the early morning is usually very calm, so fishing from a canoe or small boat is much more enjoyable if you start early.
The same goes for beach fishing or offshore fishing. The later you leave it, the worse the sea conditions get. Most fish are also more active very early in the morning so set the alarm clock to enjoy the best part of the day.
Summer is a top time for beach fishing along the Central Coast. Tailor, whiting, bream and jewfish are all active in the surf at this time of year but there's a chance of just about anything including salmon, flathead, dart, sharks and even the occasional small kingfish.
So if you have limited time and really want to catch something, hit the local beaches with a long rod and some quality bait like pillies, beach worms or pipis.
Blue pilchards are very reliable bait for most fish from the rocks, beaches or offshore. Try to buy them from one of the local tackle shops rather than petrol stations because the quality is usually better.
If there's time, buy a bag of rock or cooking salt from the supermarket and mix a handful with your pillies before wrapping them up in newspaper. Left in the fridge overnight, they'll toughen up and stay on the hooks much better.
If using pillies whole on ganged hooks, take a look at the size of the pillies available at the shop and match them to the appropriate-sized hooks. Average pillies normally suit 4/0 gangs, big pillies 5/0s and the smaller ones either 2/0 or 3/0.
The kids will obviously be keen to wet a line through the holidays and one of the best baits they could use is plain white bread. It's cheap, not at all smelly and very effective on bream, mullet, garfish and drummer.
Mash a little up with water to create a simple berley mix and throw in a few handfuls of this as you're fishing. Squeeze the bread baits firmly over a No 8 or No 10 hook for garfish and mullet or a No 2 to No 4 hook for bream or drummer.
This is the time of year when you may want to try all this new-fangled lure stuff. The good news is that soft plastics are highly effective on flathead and there's no shortage of flathead to catch in Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Lakes and lower Lake Macquarie over the Summer.
Go for the reputable brands like Atomic, Berkley and Squidgy and match the plastics to the appropriate size jig heads. In most cases a size 1/0 to 2/0 lightweight jig head is right for Tuggerah Lakes, while it may be better to upsize to a 3/0 or 4/0 when fishing in Brisbane Water, where flathead grow a bit bigger.
Jewies are the top prize from the beaches through the warmer months. The formula is simple: You must catch your own jewie bait, rather than buy it. That means putting in a few hours to catch some squid, beach worms, mullet or tailor.
Use big, sharp hooks like a 9/0 or 10/0 Gamakatsu Octopus and sturdy tackle that will deal with big fish. Pick a deep beach gutter along North Entrance, Budgewoi, Forresters or Wamberal beaches and fish a tide that peaks to high sometime between sunset and four hours afterwards. Persistence and luck also help.
Rock fishing in this part of the world is very popular but it's important to check the sea conditions before venturing on to the stones. Low rocks like those around Norah Head and Crackneck Point cop a lot of water when the seas are big so they are right out of the question.
The real dangers, however, are Snapper Point and Wybung Head, which may look quite safe to fish but looks can be deceiving. Both headlands won't show any mercy to those who take risks. If in doubt, fish the beaches instead.
Enjoy your stay on the Central Coast and with the tips I've offered, you're in with a good chance of successful fishing. Once you've caught a few it's time to pack up and that also means packing up any old bait packets, drink bottles or cans and disposing of them in a rubbish bin.
Leave rubbish behind and the fishing Gods will curse you with seven years of bad fishing luck!Reads: 674