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Timing is everything
  |  First Published: July 2006




Now that we’ve hit the coldest part of the year, fishing along the Central Coast isn’t going to be an easy ride.

Timing an outing between the howling westerlies, freezing cold snaps and the generally miserable conditions of the depths of Winter can be a matter of luck. Even so, some of those pleasant sunny days aren’t always the best time to find a few fish because crystal-clear water and bright sunshine combine to give fish a bad case of shut mouth.

So is it even worth chucking a line out? If you’re keen then of course it’s always worth having a throw; Just don’t expect any miracles and be a bit selective about which species you chase and there could be a few hot bites in the cold.

Blackfish, bream, drummer, groper, trevally, snapper and salmon are our main targets so focus on those and use quality baits in combination with lighter line and berley. A bit of extra thought and effort will go a long way this month.

BLACKFISH TIME

Without question, the primary Winter fish in this part of the world is the blackfish or luderick. It’s refreshing to see how enthusiastic some anglers are about blackfish in this era of hyper-tournament fishing. Braided lines, soft plastics and megabucks’ worth of tackle mean very little to the hardcore blackfish brigade.

Old Alveys, Avon Royals and Steelite reels, along with sloppy, solid glass rods are still used by many of the Central Coast’s older anglers. I’m also surprised by the number of much younger anglers who embrace the old tackle and techniques traditionally used for blackfish.

I just love the world of blackfish. Finely balanced rigs with hand-crafted stem floats, ultra-fine leaders and small hooks baited up with weed from secret drains or lagoons; the rampaging fight of a big bronzie off the rocks or the frustratingly subtle bites of calm-water estuary fish – it’s all good to me !

There is however, a darker side to the pursuit of blackfish which I hate: To see the same anglers day after day filling their bags to the limit or beyond with blackfish. Quite often these greedy take-alls fill their bags in the morning and then return to fill another bag in the afternoon. That’s 40 blackfish in the day.

If the same angler does that for five days in a row it means 200 fish have filled the freezer, fed the neighbours and the local cat population for the week. A month’s worth of this avarice equates to about 800 blackfish. Multiply it by 10 anglers fishing the same stretch of water and we’re getting up to around 8000 fish taken from the water.

While it may be argued that pro netting can easily take the same amount of fish in a shorter period, does that mean it’s right for recreational anglers to do the same thing ? Regardless of how these greedy blackfish anglers may argue their cases, there is no way in the world that it’s right to keep filling their bags and take, take, take.

One can only eat so many fish in a week and there is only so much space in a freezer. There is also a thing called the black market and that’s as illegal as dealing in cocaine!

OK, so where can the rest of us ‘do-gooders’ find a few blackfish? Budgewoi Channel, San Remo, Toukley Bridge and The Entrance are some of Tuggerah Lakes blackfish hot spots, while Brisbane Water anglers can find them at Woy Woy, Daleys Point, Davistown and Paddys Channel. The lower reaches of Erina and Narara Creeks are also worth a shot.

Of course, there are plenty of other spots worth trying. Anywhere with weed beds, rock walls and some degree of tidal flow may harbour some blackfish.

South Avoca, Terrigal, Toowoon Bay, Norah Head, Catherine Hill Bay and the Munmorah Recreation Area are all places to try for blackfish off the rocks this month. While any of these areas can turn on the goods, I would once again recommend the southern side of Catherine Hill Bay as the Central Coast’s premier blackfish domain.

WINTER BREAMING

Bream anglers have had a pretty good few months along the rocks and beaches but that’s all slowing down now. While there’s still every chance of hooking a few decent bream around the rocks, the estuaries are where some of our bigger bream should be lurking this month.

Autumn rainfall in this part of the world was virtually non-existent and at the time of writing there were a few coastal showers to ignite a flicker of hope. If the rain keeps away estuary bream will become quite a challenge.

As water becomes clear and cold, bream tend to move upstream and are harder to tempt with bait or lure. Lure-tossers should employ fine leaders and heavily scented plastics like Berkley Gulps and fish them slowly. Bait-soakers may do best with fresh mullet gut or blackfish gut with light lines and small sinkers.

While early morning and after dark are generally regarded as the best times to target bream, you might do better through the afternoon up to sunset through July and August. Basically, this is due to sunlight raising the water temperature and boosting bream activity.

It may sound overly simple but think of how you feel at 6 am in July compared with 3pm on the same day. A difference of 10° may have a similar effect on bream, even if the water is less than one degree warmer later in the day.

This theory is particularly useful in water with limited tidal flow, such as in the creeks that flow into Tuggerah Lakes and lower Lake Macquarie.

There’s no doubt that fishing can be tough at this time of year but the only way to catch a few is to get out there and throw a bait or lure in the drink. Sitting at home complaining about the cold won’t stretch your line unless you tie it to the back fence !

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