Boy, is it cold on the South Coast! Make sure you have your woollies on if you are venturing out for a fish cause those frigid westerlies will be funnelling down from the distant snow-capped mountains.
Westerlies are the norm at this time of year, flattening the ocean, but always be aware of the offshore ground swells that the wind holds off. A change in the wind will mean a rapid change in the conditions with big, powerful swells moving in overnight.
Timing can be everything to successful fishing at this time of year. After such swells, when the conditions become safe again the likes of snapper, morwong and other reef-dwellers will feed voraciously for a day or two before the water clears up and slows the bite down once more.
Same goes for off the rocks and beaches. Rock blackfish, luderick, bream, mulloway and snapper, to name but a few, will throw caution to the wind while the water remains stirred up. Don’t despair if the water is clear, though. Fish have to eat so it’s not impossible to score a feed in less than ideal conditions.
Pay particular attention to tide changes and low light periods. Even cloud cover can make a big difference to catch rates because many fish will bite for longer periods.
Getting up early or staying until late is particularly important when chasing tailor and there have been some rippers around the rocks and beaches. The best fish of late was taken by Craig Conner on a 20g Raider using 3kg line and no trace. The greenback went 4.5kg and was an exceptional effort on such tackle in an area not really renowned for its big choppers. A few tailor from 1.5kg to 3kg have also been captured off a number of beach gutters particularly after sunset.
Anglers have been catching plenty of big bream on soft plastics around the ocean rocks, well away from any estuary mouths, with 40cm bruisers common. Even when using 5” Jerk Shads in search of jewfish, the bream have been ravenous.
Mixed in with the bream have been the usual run of big, fat salmon to test the light bream gear to the max.
The run of drummer is still going strong with some big fish and even bigger bust-ups. From all accounts it is shaping up to be one of the best runs of pigs the Bay has seen for some time.
Spearfishers continue to report big schools of quality drummer so there will be at least one species you can bank on over the next few months.
Of course blue groper will be on the cards during the flat days and a few anglers have been taking advantage of the favourable conditions. Roy Willis and son Mitch got into a few blues from the boat. It was the first blue groper for Mitch but Dad’s one was better by a few kilos. Both fish earned them the winning points in the local Soldiers Fishing Club monthly meet.
The Clyde River will be very quiet for the next few months with the exception of the odd school of jewfish and estuary perch. Fishing this system when it is at its coldest is like seeking the proverbial oasis in a desert. You could cast all day for not so much as a bump or you could luck onto a school of fish.
Jewfish magnet Wade Eaton found fish in yet another new bend of the Clyde which yielded two 7kg models and the loss of eight others over three days, using small bream lures on 3kg Fireline. Numerous estuary perch averaging 35cm also found his soft plastics.
With very little rain falling, these two species will still be fairly spread throughout the system, making finding them more difficult than normal. But if you do happen to stumble on either fish, you can generally find them in fairly close proximity for several days after.
Craig Conner with 4.5kg of tailor captured on 3kg line and 20g Raider.
There's a big difference between your standard run of legal tailor and 4.5kg's of serious chopper!
Mitch and Roy Willis with a pair of big blue groper. Winter westerlies and groper go hand in hand.Reads: 535