This is the time we have all been waiting for – the middle of Summer, many of us are on holidays, the air is hot and so is the water.
There are heaps of fish about and it should stay like this for months.
Let’s start offshore, where the action seems to be on all fronts. Pelagics of all types are tearing into tiny baitfish. Bonito and salmon seem to be the main culprits with plenty of small to legal kings, frigate mackerel and slimy mackerel.
Larger kings have been lurking beneath these schools so try casting live yellowtail into the frenzies and hang on, particularly around the islands and Bass Point.
Small metal lures cast into the activity work well and don’t be surprised if you pick up a few striped tuna and mackerel tuna.
All of this activity seems to be happening only a stone’s throw from the headlands and beaches so you won’t have to travel far.
Further offshore it gets even better with early arrivals of mahi mahi around the wave recorder, traps and the ever-popular FAD. They have been only small and spasmodic in their appearances so far but there have been reports of a few larger dollies out wide which will become more numerous over coming weeks.
Small yellowfin and striped tuna have been encountered all the way to the shelf by those trolling small lures, so with this many small fish of various species the eagerly-awaited black marlin should arrive any day.
A few striped marlin have been around now several weeks but the blacks generally show early in the New Year to become an odds-on bet by the Australia Day weekend. Large live baits like frigate mackerel, striped tuna or XOS slimy mackerel and yellowtail, slowly trolled around the Trap Reef, Kiama Canyons, South East Grounds, Wollongong Reef or Bandit should produce.
You could anchor on one of the inshore reefs like Bandit or Wollongong and free-swim a few live yellowtail, mackerel or even sweep if bait is hard to find. This gives you the bonus of putting out berley and picking up a few snapper on cut baits while waiting for a beaky to show.
There is a drawback to berleying at this time of the year and that is the abundance of bait-stealing hammerheads and whaler sharks that follow the berley. They fight hard and aren’t bad tucker, anyway.
There have been some nice snapper to 5kg over most of the shallow reefs. Fresh tuna strips fished down a berley trail early in the morning will do the job, as well as attracting any stray kingfish, samson, trevally and even a few trag.
Around the washes there are plenty of salmon and some nice tailor for the pillie-tossers while unweighted royal red prawns will score some solid bream and trevally.
The bottom bouncers are in heaven with heaps of good flathead. Throw in a few flounder on the sand at Port Kembla, pan-sized snapper over most reefs, the odd trag, mowies, sweep, samson, leatherjackets, tailor and even kingies and you have a lot of happy anglers.
The rockhoppers are having a pretty good time with drummer in the washes on weed and royal reds. The same bait is taking bream and trevally in the bays and shallow washes while the deeper ledges at Port Kembla, Windang Island, Bass Point, Kiama and Marsdens are producing salmon, tailor bonito, frigate mackerel and kingfish on lures.
Those using live bait are getting bonito and kingfish with the larger kings preferring frigate mackerel and live squid.
Kiama Blowhole Point and Marsdens are the premier positions this month if you are looking for a marlin off the rocks. A few are hooked off these platforms every season so some perseverance over the coming weeks could prove fruitful.
The beaches are fishing well. Whiting are on most beaches and if Lake Illawarra is open then Windang and Port Kembla beaches are the prime spots, although just about any beach will have whiting.
Some nice bream are in the deeper gutters while the early birds are getting tailor and salmon before sun-up on pilchards. Flathead are moving along the gutters along with a few trevally and dart.
During the evenings, particularly those that correspond with a high tide around the middle of the month (which is about when the moon is full) it is time to look for mulloway. There have been plenty of small and school jewies on just about any beaches with deep gutters while there is always the chance you will hook that big fish. Several have been taken over the past few weeks and January is always a top jewie month.
For estuary anglers it is full speed ahead in Lake Illawarra with heaps of flathead to keep the holiday crowds happy. Don’t forget the Wollongong Sportfishing Club-Dean’s Bait and Tackle Flathead Classic on January 22 with great prizes and giveaways.
Live prawns, mullet and soft plastics have been catching plenty of flathead in the main channel and just about everywhere else.
A few nice bream have been caught along the rocky foreshores on small soft plastics while those working the creeks have been getting a few as well.
There are plenty of mullet and garfish if you use some bran berley but the chopper tailor will give them a hard time, often putting them off the bite for a while.
There are blackfish along the edges of the weed beds and a heap of whiting gathering over the sand flats at the entrance which, with luck, will be open for the New Year.
The prawns have been going well again this year and, as predicted, have been extra large with several kilos a night commonplace for the scoopers.
Minnamurra is much the same with flathead along its length, bream in the deeper holes and under the bridges with mullet and garfish around the weed beds.
Don’t be surprised if a few big trevally or other strange creatures grab a lure or bait this month around the bridge pylons and you could even pick up a stray salmon down at the entrance.
It looks like great fishing to start off the year.Reads: 630