A mixed bag of tactics for the new year
  |  First Published: December 2016

I hope you all had a wonderful festive season and New Years filled with quality family and fishing time. With so much on offer in our piscatorial realm, it’s hard to know where to start! Prawning around the new moon with drag or dip nets is a fun exercise especially for kids. Try areas like the main beach at Windsor, Little Manly at Freemans Reach, Crosslands or some of the back bays in Berowra Creek accessed via boat.

Setting some crab pots from Wisemans Ferry to Spencer is another fun task that can reward you with some tasty bounty. Fresh fish frames from recent captures are my favourite crab pot bait and seem to attract a better class of crab. Check them regularly and fish nearby to deter poachers. The amount of share farming is beyond ridiculous.

Early morning and late into the evening will be great for a sneaky flick for a bass or two using surface lures, shallow crankbaits or spinnerbaits. Try them in your favourite creek or in the main river from North Richmond and back downstream to Lower Portland. Good reports of fish have come from the Nepean Gorge, but it cops a fair hiding, so some deadly accurate casting is necessary to get the resident bass to eat your offering.

Bream will be active at this time of year feeding in the upper reaches of the rivers and creeks. Locating fish holding structure in the form of sand flats, rock walls, reefs, or man-made attractions like boat hulls, oyster leases, jetties and pontoons is the first part of the equation. Next is working out the best technique to get a bite. Surface poppers and stickbaits are very effective on the flats and leases. Shallow crankbaits can be used in most situations where the fish are looking up for a feed. Soft plastic grubs or creature baits for deeper areas like rock walls and reefs or lightly weighted around the boat hulls and pontoons will be quite effective.

Flathead will be spread throughout all the smaller tributaries and as far upstream as Windsor – sometimes beyond. Finding areas where they congregate to feed is the best way to have a hot summer session on the flatties. Places like the Windsock, Dads Corner and Upper Half Moon all have prominent sand bars that hold good numbers of flathead. Fish live or frozen prawns, soft plastics, paddle-tails and prawn imitations. Soft vibes and blades are also effective when there is a bit of strong current in the middle of the tide.

I always look forward to this time of year for the inshore run of kingfish, tailor, bonito, frigate and mack tuna. Casting metal slugs, soft plastics or poppers towards actively feeding fish on the surface is just so much fun and at times frustrating. Finding the correct offering to match the hatch on any given day is critical to getting bites. Small 2 and 3” soft plastic minnows in natural colours are a very handy asset rigged on light jigheads, or hidden weight jigheads.

One of the biggest keys to catching these fish is to work out the direction of the school and take a wide berth around them. Position yourself in the line of the school’s movement, kill your engine and wait for the fish to come to you with their feeding mouths open. So many times I see anglers chasing the school from behind essentially casting at tails not mouths!

This behaviour leads to spooked fish and frustrated anglers, so please take a deep breath, assess the school’s behaviour and think logically about the situation. It pays in the form of hook-up after hook-up! If the fish aren’t feeding on small baits on the top, I like to down rig live squid and yakkas around prominent structures like wrecks, reefs, major points and drop offs. Kingfish are the main target species, but you can encounter cobia, spotted mackerel, salmon, tailor and bonito.

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