Winter is my favourite time to target big bass and estuary perch. Over the years that I’ve been guiding on the Hawkesbury I’ve learnt how to target these fish all year round and have found that on most Winter trips we catch as many as we do on most Summer outings.
We also catch most of our bigger bass in winter. A lot of these fish are caught in deep back eddies where a lot of floating debris builds up and prawns or baitfish hang around or under the debris.
We’ve found that sinking flies and soft plastics work best. It’s important to have a good sounder and know how to use it as these fish can hold in a small area and at certain depths. So take your time to sound these areas.
Surface lures and flies worked in these areas will often catch their fair share of big bass. Keep your eye open for any surface movement or just work over these areas with your surface fly or lure and you will be surprised how many big bass you catch.
The saltwater pelagics were a little quiet last month with only the odd salmon, tailor and king showing around the marker poles. Most of the kings have been caught by deep trolling small live yellow tail around South Head and the Colours.
The bonito have turned up in good numbers around the headlands, most falling to trolled lures or deep jigs. Often when we’ve hooked a fish on the troll and are fighting it back to the boat, we’ll cast a small metal lure, let it sink and then rip it back and often hook another bonito.
Another way is to keep the boat moving forward after hooking up when often you will then get multiple hook-ups. You can also end up with nothing if you pull the hooks on the fish that struck first
Plenty of bream, flathead and jewfish have been caught on bait and lure all the way from Pittwater to above Wisemans Ferry.
Soft plastics worked around the rocky points have working on the bream.
Deep-diving minnows trolled in the same areas have caught their share of bream, flathead and the odd school jew to 8kg. This is also a good way to find where the fish are located and then you can work over the area with soft plastics.
I have also been getting the odd jewfish in the Harbour while trolling live baits for kingfish
I have been fishing for mahi mahi around the FADs with limited success. One day we would catch heaps, the next day we’d have to work hard for them.
On out last trip out to the FAD we could see the fish eating the pilchard cubes but they ignored our unweighted baits. After an hour without a fish we lengthened and lightened our leaders to four metres of 6lb fluorocarbon and used smaller hooks that could be hidden inside the pillie cube.
We cast our unweighted baits as far as possible and fished with the reels’ bail arms open, feeding line as we drifted. When the fish took the bait we let them take a few metres of line before closing the bail arm and setting the hooks.
We also found that when trolling that if we lightened and lengthened our leaders and set the lures a long way back we also produced fish.
The FADs off Sydney are heavily fished and mahi mahi can be difficult to catch but it pays to be patient and try a few different approaches.Reads: 410