Prime time for everything
  |  First Published: December 2003

THIS IS WHEN it all happens right along our coast – from the continental shelf to the upper rivers, it seems to be about prime time for everything.

If it's game fishing you’re into, this is when we see the greatest concentrations of marlin and tiger sharks. Although the continental shelf is usually more productive for these species, don't disregard the inshore reefs from, say, 40 fathoms. The numbers of baitfish in these spots can be surprising and can attract the bigger predators.

And if you are outside chasing snapper or whatever, it always pays, especially when the water is a bit choppy, to run out a big pusher-type lure and a big bullet head. You never know what you may be driving over.

Snapper fishing should be improving substantially with fish right in close as well as out wide. And there should be school jewies on the inshore reefs, with the January full moon probably the very best time to be putting some big baits down deep.

On our beaches and rocks it's a great time for jewies big and small, with the best spots those with a history of good jewie catches, such as The Entrance Beach and areas where creeks and rivers enter the sea. Along the beaches and rocks you will also find numerous tailor and bream.

In the estuaries there are heaps of flathead and bream around the oyster leases as well. There are big whiting hanging around most sand flats and weed beds. Best baits for the flathead are big strips of mullet or yellowtail as well as live baits and soft plastics. For the bream, try fish strips and chicken breast, especially in the upper reaches.

For the whiting, bloodworms and nippers are usually best, but if you can't get hold of these very thin long strips of squid can also work well on some days.


Jewfish are also there to be found with the deeper channels, especially along rocky foreshores, the best places to find these blokes during the day. At night, around illuminated bridges and wharfs seems to be the best bet. In these spots they respond well to bait but lately I have been catching a fair few on lures and when a 15kg jewie slams your lure less than a metre from a rod tip on a still, calm night, it's awesome! Prime lures seem to be the bigger soft plastic minnows or shads in darker colours, as well as large, shallow-running hard-bodied minnow lures (my favourite is a green Rapala Shad Rap in the largest size.)

On our charters we have been getting jewies up to 28kg lately in the Hawkesbury River and in Brisbane Water. Also we've been catching flathead to 6kg and kingies to 7kg fairly regularly.

Sure, the waterways can be really busy this time of year but it's still worth going out for fish because I believe most of the fish nowadays, especially up around my way, are used to the sound of boats, jet skis and ferries passing over head and it doesn't seem to disturb them greatly.

The way things are shaping up it looks like a great year for kingfish and the average size seems to have jumped up a bit. This month they can be found from the inshore reefs to the rocks and river mouths. Prime baits are live yellowtail and sometimes squid. Lures also can be quite productive, with Slug-Gos or the large white Squidgies the pick of them.

Rob and Graham with a morning’s haul of jewies, bream and tailor.

Rob Jeffress with a 7kg kingy from the Hawkesbury River while fishing with Greg Joyes of Calmwater Fishing Charters.

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