Winter sorts the men from the buoys
  |  First Published: June 2017

Welcome to winter everyone! Cold, windy, and wet – there’s so much to look forward to. Winter can be the make or break season for fishos. It sorts the smart from the not-so-smart and the crazy from the insane. A warm bed, snuggles with your partner and bacon and egg breakfasts seem much more inviting than heading out in cold westerly winds with a wind chill factor in the minuses. Call me soft, I don’t care.

What sort of fishing can we expect for this month? First there are a couple of the legalities I should remind you of. Number one is the closed season on the taking of Australian bass and estuary perch from rivers and creeks in NSW, which began on 1 May. Any fish caught should be released back into the water ASAP allowing them to get on with the job of spawning and replenishing the stocks for years to come.

Number two is the trout season closure which happens midnight on the last day of the June long weekend for notified trout waters. Both trout and bass/estuary perch can still be fished for in our dams, but the rivers and creeks are a no-no for the next few months!

Our beaches have been producing quite a few mulloway over the past month or so. I’m yet to hear of a fish over the 10kg mark. Hopefully the big ones aren’t too far away. Last year was a bit of a dud for big mulloway off the beach in our waters, so we are due for a good one this year! There have been some big bronzies cruising the breakers at night stealing baits meant for these big mulloway, so at least fishos are having a little fun on these guys, usually before being bitten off mid-fight.

On the rock scene there have been plenty of salmon, drummer, bream and nice reds if you know where to look. The sambos are readily taking quickly spun metals and smaller poppers. The bream and drummer can be caught using a bread bait or cooked or fresh peeled prawns.

A simple berley mix of bread, prawn shells, tuna oil and some water will really get these guys into a feeding mode if fishing is slow, and you never know what else is going to come along looking for a feed in your trail. Some of the better reds I’ve seen and heard of caught off the rocks have come from a berley trail set for bream and drummer.

Around the washes that can’t be fished from shore, boat fishos have been getting some good results on the reds with soft plastics. Both south and north of JB has been fishing well along with around the front of Bowen Island and Longnose Bommie.

If you’re going to try your hand at wash fishing for reds, you need a very reliable four-stroke engine, a good stomach (for lots of up-and-downing) and a good crew with fast reflexes. You should have preferably three people: one fishing, one driving the boat and another keeping an eye on the sea. It’s definitely a hands-on fishing experience and not for the faint-hearted.

It’s about time we got a decent run of kingfish in our waters with some sort of consistency! The problem is along with the kings came the sharks. Big bronze whalers at the banks have made landing any sort of decent fish a real challenge, taking not only your fish but your $15-30 jig as well. Fishing in close has been a little more successful for the larger fish around Currarong and Jervis Bay. Down rigging the cliffs or lead lining around the bommies has been a pretty successful way to hook the big fellas.

Once you have hooked a hoodlum your next challenge is landing them, especially when they are already so close to the bottom to start with. Sometimes your only option is to screw up the drag, lock the knees into the gunnels and hold on as you motor away from the rocks hopefully dragging your fish far enough away from cover and disorientating them to give you half a chance.

Good luck to all and here’s to a good start to winter!

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