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No need to rough it this winter
  |  First Published: July 2017



Winter is a lovely time of year here on Lake Macquarie. All you need to do is dress to the conditions, and then get out there and make the most of it. These days there are so many fantastic clothing options available that there’s really no excuse for not fishing, even during the dead of winter. Things like a set of thermals, neck warmers, head socks and so on can all make a big difference, and really do change how you think about fishing in winter. If you really want luxury, there are even pie warmers, Makita battery-powered coffee makers and other nifty gadgets so you don’t even have to rough it during these cooler months.

The reason I keep suggesting that anglers get out there during winter is very simple: the fishing is fantastic! The lake is fishing particularly well at the moment, and as long as there is no major weather event I don’t see why the fishing action shouldn’t continue.

The flathead action has again moved to deeper waters within the lake now that the temperatures have dropped right off. Many anglers still think that flathead fishing is something you only do in those warmer months, but that is certainly not the case. There are good numbers of flathead about in the 8-10m areas throughout the lake. They do move around a little so it pays to have a few spots up your sleeve, and simply try and try until you find where they are hanging. At the moment I am finding the 3-4” plastics proving the undoing of many good flathead. I prefer a fish-profile type plastic with a paddle-tail. Use whatever jighead weight is needed on the day to effectively fish the bottom, and a hook size of 2/0 or thereabouts. It shouldn’t take long for you to get a few for dinner, plus a few more that can be released for another day.

Mulloway continue to be caught throughout the lake. They are certainly in better numbers up the northern end at the moment, with Belmont up through to Bolton Point a few of the more productive locations. Live squid is the number one bait, with lure anglers also scoring a few. I generally opt for more natural plastics when lure fishing for mulloway. I like whites and silvers as a general rule, although I have had days when nothing was working until I tried a bright orange or some other bright colour. It certainly pays to keep an open mind and have a range of options at your disposal.

Salmon have started to move into the lake, with a few schools starting to bust up around Salts Bay at the Lakes Entrance. There is also no shortage of pelagic fish out and around Moon Island. Mid week is certainly your best bet if that’s possible, as the fish are often boat shy. Without the weekend traffic the odds certainly swing in your favour.

Flies and small lures are the best offerings, and you should mix up the colours until you find what’s working on the day. Be prepared as there are also often a few solid kingfish mixed in with other pelagic fish such as salmon, tailor and so on.

Anglers should also be willing to try a few of these pelagic fish on the dinner plate. I’m sure you will be surprised. I recently started playing around with smoking my fish, and the results have been sensational. As we know, tailor do not freeze well at all, however if they are bled and iced at time of capture they are a lovely eating fish and come up a treat on the smoker.

Bream are still about, and mixing up your fishing styles will soon see a few fish landed. Again, work the deeper sections. For this style of fishing, and this time of year, I really like switching to soft plastics and metal blades. For the plastics I like the 2-3” size range, and for my blades I generally go for small ones around 30-35mm.

OFFSHORE

Offshore fishing is far from on fire, but hope is still running high. Anglers are keen to see if this year will result in a run of either southern bluefin or yellowfin tuna – or both would be nice. Every year we see a few caught, but what anglers are really hoping for is a hot bite, like many in the southern states get to enjoy each year. If we are fortunate enough to get a run of tuna, you can nearly be certain that these fish will be wide offshore – generally the place for the experienced offshore crews with suitable and capable vessels. You will generally expect any run of tuna to be out wide of the shelf and out over the Norah Head canyons.

Trolling skirted lures in a variety of sizes and colours will be your best bet. Don’t overdo it with the size of your lures, as even a 6” lure will nail 100kg tuna. If you’re running 10” lures, you may miss out on shots if there are only school fish about.

I suggest a spread of four lures. At this time of year I’d look to run a pair of 8” lures off the corner positions and then a pair of 6” lures off the riggers. Blues, green, purples and pinks are generally productive colours.

One style of fishing that is gaining in popularity off many ports around the country is deep dropping for solid tablefish such as blue-eye, gemfish and others. With the technology available today, and the quality of the tackle on offer, this style of fishing is really getting a big following. Electric reels are now getting much more affordable, and with the quality sounders now available, it is opening up a whole new range of offshore fishing options. Most crews are deep dropping with squid baits, with some opting for lumo squid skirts as attractants while others leave their offerings more natural. Either way, mix it up and have a go as you just never know what you might bring up on that next drop.

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