A mate has repeated to me his Dad’s old saying, ‘When the days get longer, the cold gets stronger’ and that’s something I always remember at this time of year. We may be well and truly past the shortest day of the year but warm currents are still a long way off yet.
Estuary fishing is one of the easier options at this tough time of year and if the fish prove to be elusive, at least you haven’t spent a huge amount in fuel or hauled a heap of gear along for nothing. If you want to have a chance of catching a few fish, though, use the best baits you can get, try some berley and target only the main Winter fish like bream and blackfish.
Brisbane Water locals mainly focus of blackfish through late Winter, although big whiting, the odd silver trevally and maybe some good-sized bream could be worth a shot. There’s always a chance of the odd flathead and leatherjacket right through the cooler months and an outside chance of a jewfish.
Soft-plastic fanatics are also in with a chance of a few estuary perch in the middle and lower parts of the system.
Tides play a major role when fishing Brisbane Water and in most cases the first half of the making or falling tide will see the fish become more active. If you’re fishing over shallow flats adjacent to channels or the oyster leases, a rising tide is the way to go as fish like whiting, bream, blackfish and flathead slowly move in from the deeper channels and disperse over the shallows.
This is when a light berley trail and fresh baits like pink nippers, soldier crabs, squirt worms or bloodworms are effective.
An easy berley mix is a bag of chook pellets mixed with some tuna oil or Stimulate Ultrabite. The Stimulate range of scents, sprays, baits and berleys has proven to be a hit with Central Coast anglers over the past year or so. While some have yet to experience any real results from the products, others swear by them.
I’m not too sure if any Stimulate scent should be used if you’re after blackfish, though, as they can become quite sensitive when it comes to their feeding habits at this time of year. Generally only the best quality weed should be used for Brissy Water blackfish, although they will also take fleshy baits like pink nippers, live shrimp or squirt worms through late Winter and early Spring.
Tuggerah Lakes can be a tough place to catch fish in August but, once again, blackfish can really fire up if conditions are to their liking.
One of the main things that Tuggerah blackies like at this time of year is a good supply of rich, brown fluffy weed that grows in the shallows around the lake foreshores. Some of the best spots to look for this weed are along the eastern shoreline of Budgewoi Lake and the lower parts of Lake Munmorah, not far from the top end of Budgewoi Channel.
It appears in the water as brown cotton wool growing on strands of ribbon weed in water about half a metre deep. The best of this weed is the darker brown stuff, which is more mature than the lighter golden variety.
Over the years I’ve tried heaps of different hooks when using this type of weed and I can assure readers that the best hook for the job is a No 10 mustad 4190. One final tip when using the fluffy brown weed is to keep it in a small bucket of water so that all the little bugs that live in it stay alive, as that’s the way the blackfish like it.
Creek choThere’s always the chance of a few big bream up Wyong Creek, Ourimbah Creek and Budgewoi Channel this month. Fish plastics like the super-deadly Berkley 3” Bass Minnow in pearl/watermelon with a light jig head and fine 2kg Siglon mono or 3kg Siglon fluorocarbon as leader material. Fish slowly along the deeper sections for the best chance of a big bream.
After dark, late in the arvo or early of a morning try fresh mullet or blackfish gut in the same areas for the chance of big bream on bait. Don’t expect heaps of bream at this time, although you may get lucky, particularly if we get some reasonable rain.
Offshore fishing certainly isn’t the most pleasant and productive through August, with an early morning boat ride a good way to get a snap-frozen face! There should, however, be a few snapper, silver trevally and morwong around for those who put in the effort.
Don’t forget the big patches of feeding salmon through late Winter and Spring. Maybe they aren’t much chop as table fish but they go really well on light spin tackle or fly gear. Remember to approach a patch of feeding salmon slowly and cut the motor to drift into the easily-spooked school.
Only the smallest metal lures, little soft plastic stick baits or tiny white flies should be employed if you want any sort of consistency with hook-ups. Even so, these fussy sambos can be nearly impossible to catch at times.
Rock fishing should remain one of the more productive options through late Winter, providing the swell behaves itself. Big seas are dangerous and flat seas mean the fishing will be difficult.
If the seas are flat, one exciting option is to drag out the biggest, meanest rod, reel and line you’ve got and try your luck on big blue groper. Line of 15kg is a good starting point but once you’ve been cleaned up by a ‘proper’ blue, you’ll be quickly reaching for at least 24kg line, if not heavier.
I always remember my mate John Grant being dragged along the rocks with his 70lb Schnieder line stretched out by a groper which he eventually landed. The line was totally wrecked by the fish, which was around 13kg. It’s gotta be saying something when 70lb line is barely adequate!Reads: 967