Some years fishing on the Central Coast takes a little longer to shake off Winter’s grip and ocean temperatures can vary dramatically as warm currents try to beat off remnant cold water. But now things should be firing on all fronts.
Whether you are visiting the area for a weekend or you’re a local fisho trying to make the most of the Summer, there is a range of angling options on foot, canoe, small tinny or larger boat. Good fishing is available from the rocks, beach, estuary or offshore for those willing to put in a little effort.
Regular readers will be aware of my passion for rock fishing and, as always, the first thing I’ll mention is to stay safe when fishing from the stones. A bit of common sense is the best piece of fishing gear you can take with you to the rocks. Check weather forecasts and if a big swell is predicted than perhaps some other type of fishing should be considered.
A big swell is anything from two metres and if a three-metre swell is forecast, forget the whole idea. If it’s less than two metres, about half the Central Coast rock platforms are quite safe but some, like Wybung Head and Snapper Point, should be avoided, especially around high water.
A swell of 1.5 metres or less is generally safe at most spots. Just remember to keep an eye on the water at all times, wear suitable footwear, tell someone were you’ve gone and have some respect for the ocean – it’s a powerful and unforgiving force.
You can still expect some of the cool water species like blackfish, drummer, salmon and groper. Drummer and groper don’t stray far from home and still have to eat.
Bream, trevally and leatherjackets are some others that may show up, so it pays to keep an open mind what sort of fish you’re likely to encounter.
A good strategy is to berley up with a bread-based berley (check the current Fishing NSW Annual for more on bread berley techniques), a berley of finely chopped pilchard pieces or a mix of chicken pellets soaked in tuna oil.
Once some berley has been introduced to the water, keep things light and simple. Lines from 4kg to 6kg work well with a light rod and reel.
Although whole pilchards fished on ganged hooks will work on salmon, tailor and the odd bream, more fish will be caught by using a single hook, say a 1/0, with a light sinker running freely on the line.
If you do need to cast out further go for a bigger sinker but there shouldn’t be a need to go over a No 6 ball sinker for local rock fishing. Other tips are to avoid using rubbishy wire traces and if you are going to suspend your bait under a float, go a small one rather than a big torpedo style.
Pelagics like bonito, kings and tailor are on the cards through Summer. A simple and effective way to target them is by spinning with small metal lures.
Some fishing mags lately have recommended lures between 45g and 80g but I strongly believe metals between 20g and 40g will catch more fish. Some good ones include Halco slices, Spanyid Maniacs and locally made half-by-quarters.
The Central Coast rocks don’t produce a lot of big fish like areas further north or south but LBG enthusiasts are in with a good chance of kingfish by day and jewfish by night. The occasional black marlin, cobia and yellowfin tuna will cruise past places like Wybung, Snapper, Terrigal and Avoca but I would be much more inclined to go for the kings and jewies which are a real chance, rather than just a hope.
Beach fishing is popular and productive in this part of the world through the warmer months. Salmon will take a range of baits in the surf day or night.
Perhaps the most reliable way is with a whole pilchard on ganged hooks. Be wary when buying a block of pillies as some are soft and mushy and fall off at the slightest bite. Sometimes a safer way to go is to buy a bag of IQF pillies which have been frozen individually.
Tailor should be more consistent in the surf zone so you’ll most likely catch a mixed bag of tailor and sambos, along with the odd bream and flathead.
If fishing through the middle of the day is more your style there’s every chance of running into some tasty whiting. Use light line, smallish hooks and sinkers and a light sensitive rod.
The best baits for beach whiting are bloodworms and beach worms. If you can’t get these then freshly-caught pipis, peeled prawns or pink nippers may do the trick.
Central Coast beaches are famous for big jewfish and this is a perfect time to fish into the night for them.
It’s not often you can just rock up to the beach, cast out a big bait and hook a jewie. The best strategy is to concentrate your efforts around the full and new moon periods which last four to six nights. I prefer the new moon.
A high tide sometime between sunset and midnight, combined with a slight, washy sort of swell completes the picture. Top baits are freshly-caught squid, mullet or tailor slabs, or heads of mullet, tailor or blackfish, whole small pike or mullet or a pile of big beach worms. My favourites are the squid and beach worms.
Some of the best beaches along the Central Coast are Budgewoi, Pelican, North Entrance, Forresters, Wamberal and Avoca. There are plenty more to choose from and most will yield fish.
Take your pick from Brisbane Water, Tuggerah Lakes or the lower part of Lake Macquarie. There are also a few saltwater lagoons worth trying near Terrigal and Avoca, as well as Patonga Creek and the upper reaches of Wyong and Ourimbah Creeks, where a few bass are available to those fishing from canoes.
Flathead are the No 1 estuary target at this time of year. There are plenty of flatties in Brisbane Water or Tuggerah Lakes but the big flathead dwell around Brisbane Water.
Towards the mouth of the system at Woy Woy, Ettalong and Broken Bay, some real thumpers up to 7kg show up but fish around 2kg or 3kg are quite common.
My preferred flattie catching technique is to cast medium sized soft plastics adjacent to weed beds, rock walls and similar structure. I also like to cast plastics through shallows illuminated by bridge lights at night. Flathead gather around the lighter spots much like moths swarm around lights.
Baits like fresh prawns, whole white pilchards and thin strips of mullet, tailor or pike are other things you can use to entice a flattie. The main problem with natural baits are that small pickers and pests often get in on the act and they can waste a lot of your bait.
If you can get some, try live prawns or small live poddy mullet, which are much more picker-resistant and flathead really love ’em.
Bream and whiting are also common in both systems through the warmer months. Light line, small hooks and minimal sinker weight should be used to catch these fish. There’s simply no need to bring out your big heavy gear for bream and whiting and you’ll hook far more fish with light gear.
In most cases a rising tide works best for bream and whiting although you don’t have to follow a tide chart when fishing in Budgewoi or Munmorah lakes as tidal movement is virtually non-existent. There it’s better to concentrate more around dawn or dusk or fish into the night.
Top baits for whiting are bloodworms or beachworms and although you’ll catch bream on these baits, you can target local bream with mullet gut or fresh pieces of tailor, mullet or garfish flesh. Pink nippers and small black crabs will also interest the bream.
There are plenty of bream for those who prefer to cast lures or flies. Summer is my favourite time to catch bream on artificials as this is when the prawns are running and warmer water temperatures really fire up the bream.
Early mornings or late afternoons are generally best for lure or fly fishing for bream. I mainly fish from a canoe in Tuggerah Lakes but a small boat is a good idea in Brisbane Water.
Much has been written about catching bream on lures in recent times so I won’t get right into it here. Concentrate around the shallow weed beds in Tuggerah Lakes and the oyster racks in Brisbane Water. Sure, cast your lures next to fallen trees and under boats, but don’t neglect those shallow weed beds.
Water temperatures generally dictate what’s on offer as we move offshore. Flathead, morwong, silver trevally, leatherjacket and a few reds are certainly on the cards for those dropping baits to the bottom. If you’re mainly after a feed of fresh fish I reckon the best bet is to drift for flathead with a few lines out to maximise your chances.
More exciting action is likely with kingfish and mahi mahi. The kings will be in closer around the shallow reefs and bommies while the dollies will be out wide around the marker buoys and along distinct current lines or any large floating object.
Both species respond well to live yakkas or slimy mackerel but they certainly take to soft plastics retrieved with fast jerks and twitches.
Kings and mahi mahi are some of the best you’ll get on the dinner plate but if you’re lucky enough to hook heaps, so don’t get too greedy and fill up the boat. Just take what you need for a meal or two and throw the rest back.
If you have a larger vessel with the appropriate safety gear some night fishing over the reefs may get you some nice jewfish. I would opt for the closer reefs but I suppose it depends exactly where the jewies are biting. Keep your radio on and your ears open at the ramp to hear any news on which way to head on your next trip.
Heavy handlines, overhead gear or baitrunner -style threadlines suit this type of fishing where the rods are set in holders with the ratchets on waiting for a run. Suitable baits include fresh squid, large strips of pike or live yakkas, slimies or small to medium pike, all of which can be caught at local bait reefs.
As summer moves into full swing more pelagics show up. Bonito can at times be prolific and others that join the action include mack tuna, frigate mackerel, samson fish and rainbow runners. Larger predators like marlin, cobia and a better class of kingfish are a chance so it pays to be prepared.
Get up early to beat the Summer crowds and stay safe.
Regardless of where you fish there are always a few hazards to look out for. Always check your outboard motor, fuel, water and radio before heading offshore and check the weather forecasts. Rock fishos should be very aware of the swell, tides and approaching weather before making plans.Reads: 5741