Now that the cooler weather is set in, traditional Winter species are really starting to hit their straps.
It has been big swell after big swell along the coast and all of the usual cool-water targets are firing during the lulls between the big seas.
The South Coast claimed the life of another fisherman recently but you can easily avoid death by steering clear of the rocks in such conditions.
There is little point fishing off the rocks when it is too rough, anyway. Fish will generally be well outside the range of rock fishos’ casts on really rough days so not only are you wasting your time trying to fish, you’re also risking your wellbeing for nothing.
I have never had good success in very rough conditions. However, after the sea settles substantially, that is the time to have a real good go. A flat ocean which is still dirty and stirred from a good bump is the best recipe for success.
Reports of tailor over 2kg have been common off the beaches lately with the ganged pilchard being the first bait choice for most anglers. Strangely, though, I have found that tailor haven't been making a nuisance of themselves at night whilst chasing jewfish as yet but I am sure this will have changed by the time you read this.
Jewfish off the sand started later than normal this season but there have been a few from 6kg to 12kg landed recently. The only big jew I have heard of were 20kg and 27kg fish taken by a couple of spearfishermen.
Quality salmon will be almost a sure thing if you can find a nice gutter, which should be pretty easy given the number of big swells that have hammered the coast.
Big travelling bream should still be on the cards, too, if you stick to the rocky corners of beaches on a rising tide in the early morning or late afternoon. Cut black crab baits are one way to sort out the little fellas from the big ones, a trick bream guru Dick Hawthorn of Ulladulla often uses to great effect. Old Dick loves his bream fishing and rarely misses bagging out on them when he puts his mind to the task
Some of the smaller beaches have had staggering numbers of small whaler sharks, making extracting a fish tedious work. James Gale had a big tailor ambushed by a bronzie midway through the fight. The shark chomped it clean in half, not a common occurrence off South Coast beaches.
Offshore, those same whalers are also causing snapper fishos headaches, taking any floating bait drifted down a berley trail, as Michael Williams recently discovered. Mick managed a few nice snapper by introducing some lead to the floaters.
Michael's six-year-old daughter Rumer caught a 2.5kg snapper which is currently holding the yearly junior record for the Batemans Bay Soldiers Fishing Club.
Not even soft plastics have been avoiding the whalers, as Phil Petridis found out. A long, hard fight on what he thought was a solid kingfish turned out to be a bronzie at least 1.2 metres long.
Son Dimitri showed Dad up by catching three reds on softies to 4kg and lost a snapper closer to 7kg after a few sightings. Unfortunately the fish straightened a TT jig head when it found refuge in some heavy kelp.
Snapper to 7.8kg have been landed already so it looks like we are set to see another top season on the reds.
Reports from divers reveal that there are some really good schools of big black drummer and trevally showing in a number of locations. Lightly weighted baits of prawn, cunjevoi, abalone gut or bread will tempt them. Now is the best time to target these species and they should be active for the next few months.
Anglers venturing to the continental shelf should be able to rustle up a few school yellowfin and albacore and there have been some sporadic runs of fish of late along with the occasional much larger tuna. Into early May there were some incredibly warm patches of water around with temps of 24° to 25.5° on the shelf and 23.8° inshore.
Unless there has been a drastic drop in temperature there still should be some pelagic action for those willing to look.
Estuary fishing will have wound down now with school jewfish, estuary perch and possibly the odd docile flathead the remaining targets. You'll have to work really hard to find fish but it isn't impossible.
Estuaries like Tuross seem to fish much better than the Clyde over the cooler months. One thing I have noticed when fishing Tuross, now that it has been an RFA for some time, is the staggering numbers of undersized bream, snapper and flathead. Normally large amounts of these little ones would end up dead and wasted in commercial nets.
Now these small fish are a major nuisance when bait fishing but it is a fantastic sign for the future. I can't wait to see how Tuross is faring in another five years.
This beautifully conditioned, squid-eating jewfish brought quite a smile to James Gale’s face on a recent beach sortie.
Dimitri Petridis had a great day on the snapper on plastics recently, showing up his Dad up in the process.
Rumer and Michael Williams with a pair of superb snapper extracted from a plague of bronze whalers.Reads: 991