It seems like just the other day we had lovely warm weather and the talk was all about the warm waters offshore. Now we are looking at weekly forecasts of very chilly days and even chillier nights.
Water temperatures have come down considerably and the action may have slowed a little as well, but there is certainly enough on offer for anglers who put the effort in. Look on the positive side of things – the waterways are much quieter, which is enough to get my backside out there, that’s for sure.
These cooler months can also be some of the most productive months for anglers fishing Lake Macquarie. There is plenty on offer with large schools of tailor now a common sight and don’t be fooled, not all the tailor are small, undersized fish.
These schools have very nice fish with a few tailor caught nudging 50cm. On a few occasions now I have found these tailor show no interest in my soft plastic offering, regardless of what I throw at them. I’ve gone back to trolling small deep divers around these schools and spending hours having a great time catching fish after fish. Tailor are one of those fish that don’t freeze well. Don’t be afraid to keep a couple of fresh fish for dinner and they come up fantastic if you cook them on a smoker.
Mulloway almost seem a year-round option for Lake Mac anglers these days. We are again seeing good fish up to 90cm. We are finding most of our mulloway in that deeper 8-10m depth in every area of the lake we are working. Up the northern end or down south, they are all coming from the deeper waters. Soft plastics are getting the best results for us, and soft plastics with a large paddle-tail are certainly outshining the others.
Squid are also about in good numbers. Just like any form of fishing, some days they are more willing than others. When you find them they are more often than not a great size for the table. Aside from being sensational on the plate, they would also be the number one live bait for mulloway anglers, so make sure you spare one or two for the live well.
It often surprizes many anglers just how many good flathead are about during these cold periods. Many are of the belief that you need hot summer days to get flathead, but that isn’t the case. I would catch 90% of my winter flathead from deep waters and on relatively heavily weighted soft plastic offerings.
I still catch a few up on the shallow edges with lighter offerings on those sunny days. Fishing deep is the go for now. We are finding good numbers of fish off Coal Point right up through to Bolton Point. Persistence is the key, but once you find one you generally find two or three fairly quickly, so stick at it.
Bream fishing is another year-round option for anglers here on Lake Mac. I really enjoy working blades during winter. I hop them slowly along the bottom and try to target areas that have good broken ground such as cockle beds and other similar rubble type bottom.
Lightly weighted soft plastics in that 2-3” size range are also a great option. I generally use as light a jighead as I can to slowly sink down and effectively work the bottom third of the water I’m fishing in. Match this to a size 1 hook and add a little scent like SAX scent, for example. Be sure to work that lure slowly during these cooler months, as that really is one of the keys to winter success.
As I have said in my recent monthly reports, the offshore action over summer was not what we hoped for or expected. It was not a complete loss; some days weren’t too bad. Overall though, a half-good winter will see more action than our summer season has seen, that’s for sure. Although the marlin fishing was a little bit of a letdown, if we are lucky this winter we may see a run of tuna out over the shelf and around the Canyons. If it’s a good tuna season I’m sure that will more than make up for the summer.
For those anglers wanting to have a crack at the tuna fishing, the good news is that with a little prep work you can be in with a shot. I would suggest running a spread of 4-5 lures. I would go with 3-4 skirted lures in various colours and in the 6-8” length. For that last lure I would be running a deep diving hardbody lure that produces more than a few tuna each year.
I would love to tell you to simply get out to the 50 or 60 fathom line and work it, but I’m afraid the odds are not in your favour for that option. If you are serious about tangling with a tuna or two this winter, you’ll need to head wide and put the hours in. Some days the fish won’t bite until the afternoon tide change, so it might be a long wait. On many occasions it’s worth it.
For those that love their offshore fishing and are looking for options other than trolling a spread of lures, you’re in luck. Winter is a fantastic time to fish our offshore reefs with some great kingfish and snapper on offer. A few methods generally produce the goods, with deep water jigging a big hit these days. Soaking a deep set live bait is also a very productive option that may see less fish produced, but certainly some real quality fish that can’t resist a live yakka.
|Take it from me, although it can be a little difficult to convince yourself to get up on the chilly mornings and hook the boat up, the odds are if you brave the chill, after that first coffee and after a few fish hit the live well, you’ll be||glad you made that effort.|