If I had to pick only one month of the year to fish, I'd choose January – you can catch so many different fish on the Central Coast now.
Wherever you fish and however, January is great.. On the rocks and beaches this is the time to pull out the heavy gear for those big jewfish. Fishing areas like the North Entrance beach, Soldiers, Wamberal or Pearl Beach can result in some great catches of the big fellows.
A good way to fish these areas is to look for gutters or rips, where you'll find deeper water closer to shore to enable you to cast bigger than normal baits. Great jewfish baits off the beach include butterflied tailor or mullet.
A great bait size should weigh around 300g. The beauty of butterflied baits is that the smaller fish can pick away for a period and there is still enough left on the hook to attract big fish. I've caught heaps of big jewfish on butterflied baits where I'm sure all that's been left on the hook has been a head and a couple of bits of skin. Another beauty of butterflied baits, is that they require less sinker as the head itself (especially on mullet) is its own sinker.
There are usually heaps of tailor on the rocks and beaches now. Cast pilchards on ganged hooks or metal lures after them. Fresh strips of mullet or tailor are great baits for bream, which are abundant at this time. Prime spots are the corners of beaches or under the washes on the rocky headlands.
Kingfish and various tunas are available from popular rock spots such as Avoca, Winnies, Wybung Head and a few other deep-water locations. Best baits seem to be live yellowtail or slimy mackerel and fresh or live squid.
Every year I hear of at least one marlin being caught from the rocks at Avoca. If live bait is in the area, put out a bigger bait than you'd normally use –you'd be surprised what can be swimming off some of our platforms.
In the estuaries it's all systems go at this time of year. Flathead of all sizes are about and one of the best ways of catching them doesn't even require bait. I've been using Squidgy soft plastic lures lately with great success. My favourite is the SQF in black/gold or silver fox. If there is a bit of wind, I give the lure a jerking motion with the rod. Pulling up along weed beds and casting on their fringes is another great way of locating flathead.
Remember, let the lure sink to the bottom before retrieving. Flathead are bottom-dwellers and unless the lure is in that lower section of the water column you will miss out.
Live and strip baits are other good ways of catching flathead. Remember the baits must be down on the bottom so ensure you have enough sinker.
If you can pump some pink nippers you'll find there is no shortage of whiting. Light line, long-shanked hooks and a slow retrieve seem to be factors that can increase your whiting catch. Any of our sandflats (adjacent to weed beds) in our estuaries are worth a try.
While you're at it chuck out a line with a substantial flesh bait for one of the many blue swimmer crabs. Make sure it's a fresh bait with a large hook as occasionally these crab baits will get hammered by bigger flathead or jewfish.
I find this month prime time for jewfish in the Hawkesbury. Best baits are mullet, yellowtail and, for the smaller blokes, squid. Just inside of Box Head fishes very well at this time, especially late in the afternoon and into the evening. The odd big kingie has been known to come roaring through so a big live bait in mid-water can also come up with a surprise.
It's prime time for jewfish on the reefs. The January full moon is usually regarded as the best time of the lot to fish for them. Favourite baits are live yellowtail, squid or even a bunch of pilchards jammed on a big hook. Favourite technique is sound around a proven jewfish reef until bait fish schools are found then anchor up and send a selection of baits down just clear of the bottom. I find it's best not to spend too long in the one unsuccessful spot –search elsewhere.
Snapper are also at their best at this time, with fish spread from the wide reefs to the very close marks. Kingfish reach plague reportions at this time of year and hopefully they have all put on a bit of weight since last year.
Game fishing, too, should be great and time spent trolling live slimy mackerel or a selection of lures is time well spent. If you have to travel from one reef to the next why not have a couple of lures out as you do. It's surprising how many small black marlin 7 striped marlin can frequent our inshore reefs.
So there you have it, January is just a great time to being fishing the Central Coast being it fishing lagoons to deep sea game fishing. There is so much on offer.
90cm flathead and 49cm bream aboard Calmwater Fishing ChartersReads: 1959