For the most part the fishing in our area hasn’t been particularly hot or cold. All the usual winter suspects have been active, but not going ballistic. It’s the middle of the year, the middle of winter and the middle of the road.
In the estuaries the bream and bass are doing their mid-year mingle. Most of our local river systems are quite small so bream anglers don’t have to be too far upstream to run into the brackish water and schools of competitive bass. It’s quite a common occurrence to have a bream lure pinched by a bass at this time of year if you’re fishing the upper estuary stretches. If you do end up with a bass on your line this month, the no-take season runs from May until August, inclusive, and so all bass must be returned to the water unharmed.
The water temperatures in the estuaries slowly decrease as we get further into winter and the bream have become more focused on the estuary floor than the surface. Slower, finesse fishing is the key for winter bream. Slow and subtle has been the winning technique. Prawn and crab imitations and small 2” grubs have been the standouts over the last month. Very slow or static presentations have done the damage, as the large bream require a full inspection of any offering before committing to the bite.
The estuaries also offer the inshore angler the chance of some big fish at this time of year. Mulloway have been quite active throughout the estuaries with the average fish around school-size. Night time is always best for the estuarine mulloway and fishing the top of the tide is the favoured option.
With the bass and trout seasons closed for the winter, there aren’t any real freshwater options in our region this month. That doesn’t stop your average sweetwater angler. This time of year sees a steady flow of anglers over the mountains and into cod country.
Copeton Dam is the most popular destination for a shot at some monster cod, to go with the icicles, frozen hands and numb face. As usual these trips out west can be either life inspiring or soul shattering. You see these two results displayed well on social media. One angler will post multiple pictures of giant 1m+ cod, while the other posts a single sunset image about the weekend that could have been, along with some wise words trying to make sense of a world where not a single cod showed the slightest interest in any of his offerings.
One of the common traits of those more successful trips is that the group had at least one local or experienced Copeton angler. If you want success at Copeton, hook up with someone who knows the waterway well.
Those sticking to the warmer waters off the Coffs Coast have had access to all the standard winter offerings. Snapper are again the most popular target now that the mackerel have mostly moved on. Over the last month the snapper have begun to congregate around the shallow reefs, headlands and gravel beds. This is the best time of year for anyone and everyone to access a nice red for supper, or just for catch and release.
The best snapper fishing this month will be around the shallow reefs and headlands adjacent to large areas of gravel. Muttonbird Island, Sawtell and Boambee headlands all offer the possibility of a decent land-based snapper. These locations are also offering regular tailor, mulloway and the odd kingfish.
In the beach gutters, mulloway have been responding well to squid strips, in particular the Californian squid, although you can’t go past fresh squid if you can get it. The squid have been quite active around the inshore reefs, headlands and breakwalls, so the option for fresh squid baits is there, if you can resist just having a feed of squid instead. The mulloway will certainly respond well, as will the local kingfish.
The best snapper fishing will be further inshore this month. The islands and deeper reefs are still offering quality reds and are the best option for decent kingfish.
Fishing near the shore, or far from it, bottom baits or drifting around with a live bait could net you snapper, kingfish or pearl perch. There aren’t many anglers that wouldn’t be happy with one of these species, if just for a fight, or for dinner. It’s one of the reasons I love fishing offshore at this time of year. Whether you’re fishing for a feed or just to get out there, I hope you can stay warm and have fun.Reads: 651