This is what we have all been waiting for: Hot weather, hot water, hot fishing and holidays!
Now it’s time to try all that great new fishing gear that Santa left and there are no shortage of places around the ’gong to score a few fish.
The beaches are popular and with so many to choose from, you can always find a spot but the crowds will be where the fish are and whiting will be the main target this month.
Warilla and Windang are always popular, as is MM Beach, but you will find whiting on just about every piece of sand along the coast. Fresh live beach worms are the top bait if you are serious.
Flathead don’t mind worms, either, nor do salmon, but you can get just as many or more casting 75mm soft plastics into the gutters on any beach. During the evenings you can soak a fresh slimy mackerel fillet in the gutters for flathead, salmon, tailor, bream, trevally and school jewies.
Upgrade your bait size and tackle for larger jewies after dark, particularly on the northern beaches and the deep gutters down south on Bombo Beach on a high tide.
The estuaries are at their peak with small fish and prawns everywhere being hunted down by anything bigger than them.
Flathead are all along the main channel in Lake Illawarra and around the drop-off with the deeper parts of Minnamurra holding some nice flatties as well.
Bream are around the rocky outcrops, islands and the bridge pylons. Live prawns fished into the pylons with little or no weight on a rising tide should keep you busy and you should pick up a few flathead as well.
Whiting are around the entrance on the sand flats, if you can get a spot among the crowd. Squirt worms are the main bait but small poppers have taken some nice fish, but not in any numbers so far.
You could chase blackfish with green weed along the edges of the ribbon weed beds or berley up a school of garfish and big mullet with some bread and have fun with light line and floats. The kids love it.
The rocks are going well, too, as the hot water stirs up the pelagic action. We have had great land-based angling since November and it doesn’t look like slowing up as salmon, bonito, small kingfish, tailor, frigate mackerel and the odd striped and mackerel tuna hunt baitfish along the headlands.
The next couple of months are when the keen LBG guys go into a frenzy, spending as much time as possible on the deep ledges feeding out live yellowtail and slimy mackerel – or, if they can spin up some, live frigates.
The rewards are there in regular hook-ups on big kings, hammerheads and whaler sharks and if they get lucky, a marlin.
Kiama Blowhole, Marsdens, Bombo, Bass Point, Hill 60 and even Coalcliff ledges can produce, with the southern ledges the standouts over coming weeks.
There are some nice bream in the washes and even the odd snapper off the deeper ledges, moving in on all that berley the LBG boys pump in.
The offshore game action starts to fire on all cylinders this month.
In close there are good kings around the islands and over the deeper reefs. Knife jigs are getting a few but live baits set deep are consistent. I even scored a 12kg fish myself recently but 3kg to 7kg fish are the norm.
Don’t set all the baits deep because the same reefs will be the starting point for marlin. Bandit and Wollongong reefs are always popular but any inshore reef in 30m or more that holds bait, particularly slimy mackerel, will attract marlin once the water is over 23°.
You can burn fuel and drag skirted lures around and for the odd strike or you can slowly troll live mackerel or large yellowtail or anchor and drift the livies out behind the boat for great results.
There are plenty of striped marlin out wide already and even a few big blues. Those guys who caught the broadbill mentioned last month have been at it again, this time with a great 186kg blue on 15kg tackle.
Mahi mahi seem to grow in popularity every year. There have been a few small fish since late November but from here on in they will increase in numbers and size until late April.
Why are they so popular? Because they are dead easy to catch.
Catch live yellowtail or slimies in close take them out to the FAD. Use a single hook and light trace on 6kg spinning gear and cast the bait near the FAD and leave the bail arm open.
When the line tears off the reel, flick the bail arm over and you have your dolly. Now you just have to get it back to the boat!
The only problem is there is only one FAD off the ’gong and a swarm of boats fishing it. A couple more FADs wouldn’t go astray because the locals don’t get much else for their licence money.
Out wider, striped tuna are still taking small lures. They make great marlin live baits and are great for snapper over the close reefs.
The small summer yellowfin show from day to day out wide and later this month if the hot water keeps pouring down we could see a few wahoo, spearfish or even the odd sailfish. Isn’t summer great?
In close the snapper are about with nice fish up to 5kg moving around the reefs. Most average about a kilo.
Anchor and put out a berley trail of striped tuna pieces, use fillets of frigate or slimy mackerel for bait and you are in business. Throw in a few samson fish, mowies, pigfish, trevally, small kings, tailor, bonito and the odd trag and there is no shortage of variety.
The berley will attract a few small hammerheads and whalers to add to the fun.
Then do a drift over the sand for some nice flatties to round off the bag. And just think – next month it gets even better!Reads: 2680