Don’t let the crowds put you off
  |  First Published: December 2006

So the silly season is almost here once again. Congested boat ramp queues, strong nor’-easterlies, annoying flies and sunburn. Why put yourself through such trials and tribulations? For a fish or two, of course!

December is a time when many species of fish are really starting to fire up. The water temperature is nicely climbing and the days are long. The desire to get into some serious rod-bending action is hard to shake off – it’s pelagic time.

That same boat ramp congestion will be transferred to the inshore reefs wherever the kingfish schools will be holding station. Anglers generally have big mouths and can’t keep quiet for too long when the kingie bite hits fever pitch.

But don’t let crowds discourage you from getting in on the action because these are curious fish with a healthy appetite. Unlike snapper, a flotilla of boats over their heads won’t bother kings too much and can even excite them into action.

Still, you’ll need options because they can be infuriatingly difficult to hook, even though there might be 15 or more of them milling around the back of the boat snubbing their noses at your offerings.

Some days they want only live yellowtail, other days it’s slimies. Metal jigs, soft stickbaits, pike, frigate mackerel and squid round out the gun tempters but don’t forget the under-used live garfish. Many a monster king has been fooled into eating a live gar.

The inshore grounds continue to be heavily laden with baitfish schools, clearly defined by the multitudes of sea birds squawking above the melee.

Vast numbers of big salmon have remained in close attendance of the bait schools for more than four months but now they have been joined by some hefty striped tuna and the odd rat yellowfin. If this inshore action continues, we could hopefully see a good run of inshore black marlin coming our way soon. Places like Port Stephens and Jervis Bay will be a good grapevine indicator as to whether this will eventuate.

Out around the continental shelf there should be some reasonable striped marlin action now (providing last season’s longline massacre doesn’t recur) along with continuing but sporadic yellowfin tuna action.


Estuaries should all be firing now with bream, flathead, whiting and the odd jewfish the main targets. Luderick are also prolific in most South Coast estuaries if you are keen for a challenge. Green weed, nippers and bloodworms are baits to consider.

Local angler Brett Woolridge scored a top bag of luderick recently from the Tomakin River. Now these blackfish are notoriously hard to tempt but Brett had them sussed out when he decided to add a squirt of Ultrabite to his nippers and the fish couldn’t resist. Not one fish was caught without the ‘secret’ ingredient.

It was interesting to see a stunning 29kg jewfish pictured in the local newspaper recently, reportedly taken by someone aboard one of the local houseboats. Double-figure jewies are pretty rare in the Clyde these days so it is good to see that nets haven’t got them all.

The Clyde has also been producing a number of big flathead with Michael Williams’ pair of 4.5kg fish leading the way. Great reports of monster whiting, crocodile-sized flathead, the occasional jewfish and bream to 1.5kg are coming in from anglers sampling the Tuross system. So you can bet the estuaries will be pretty popular destinations over the next few weeks.

Off the rocks you should expect to tangle with some big salmon, trevally, small snapper and the odd bream. Bonito, rat kingfish and sharks, mainly whalers and hammerheads, will be the mainstay of the more prominent headlands.

Etienne De Celis had been doing very little fishing over the past few months due to work but one magic, glassy day teased him and fellow gardener James Gale for long enough. They left work and headed off for a last-minute jew spin just before sunset at a rocky beach corner. First cast Et hooked a cracker on a big Juro stick bait. At exactly 15kg it is his biggest jewfish to date.

After staring at a perfect ocean all day at work at a clifftop residence, Etienne De Celis finished a hard day at the office with 15kg of lure-munching jewfish on the first cast.

Michael Williams with one of the 4.5kg flathead he scored in a week’s fishing on the Clyde River.

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