Winter may bring southeastly winds and a chill in the air, but it also produces great fishing. The cold season is my favourite time of the year because of the big trevally, bream and snapper that are around, and in this article I will talk about how to catch all of these species and more.
Trevally are around in hoards at the moment invading most local reefs and wrecks. A high-speed retrieve using metals is one of the best ways of catching these hard fighting fish.
To target these fish you will need a fast reel with a minimum gear ratio of 5.2:1, because most of the time they won’t take a slow retrieved lure. The rod doesn’t matter as much but needs to have a fair bit of give if using light line. When using heavy line I find that a stiffer rod is easier to use because it will turn the fishes head faster.
When fishing for trevally your eyes are a key tool, as you can usually see the schooled fish below the boat. If they are down deeper they will show up as big arches on your depth sounder. In these instances you will have to keep finding the school and dropping your metal lure to the bottom, then winding it up as fast as you can until you feel your rod load up.
They will usually suspend over the top of most trawlers and shipwrecks as well as around any of your inshore and offshore reefs.
Snapper are starting to come into our local inshore and offshore reefs, and winter is the perfect time to target them. Soft plastics and bait are the more common ways of targeting these hard fighting and delicious fish.
A reel around 4000-5000 in size loaded with 10-14lb braid is the best way to go when fishing with soft plastics, but for bait fishers it will more come down to preference. Likewise, it will be the same for the rod type, but I prefer to use a Shimano overhead on a 6’-6’6, 8-15kg rod.
When using soft plastics, a 5-7” jerkshad usually works well fished right on the bottom and twitched every 4-5 seconds. When using bait, a paternoster rig with squid or pilchards suspending in the water gives the appearance of live bait and will usually bring the snapper around.
Most inshore reefs around your local area are good places to start targetting snapper if you have a smaller boat. These places are fairly shallow, which is good when fishing plastics, and there is an array of other species there just waiting to smack your bait.
If you have a bigger boat and want to head wider, the gutters and flat country are always worth a look and most local wrecks will produce the odd snapper.
Cobia are starting to fire up again with great catches on the some of the inshore and offshore reefs, as well as wrecks.
You will need a heavy rod and reel when fishing for cobes, something like a TLD 20 on a 15kg rod should suffice when using lures and bait. And using heavy metal jigs or trolling lures, such as the Rapala CD18, will work well. If lures aren’t your thing then whole live baits and big cuttlefish heads work as well.
Most places are firing for the cobes, and these areas can be drift fished or anchored upon. But getting the boat anchored in the right spot might take a couple of tries.
Bream are my favourite river species because of their willingness to eat a lure and they are hard, clean fighters.
When fishing for bream your combo doesn’t need to be an expensive one. A $25 combo from you local tackle store will be fine. When using soft plastics a graphite rod is better than a normal fibreglass rod, as it is a lot more sensitive. Also, using braid will help as you can feel every hit that the plastic gets.
When using bait you can’t beat fresh yabbies, putting these on a number 2 long shank hook with a small running sinker is one of the best set ups for these fish. When using lures I find that Berkley Gulp in a sandworm or 4” swimming mullet work really well.
Any of the deep holes or sand flats at high tide are good bream haunts. Flicking plastics along some of the moored boats and jetties will bring results on the slack tide. Take it easy when you’ve hooked a decent fish because you don’t want to lose it to a silly mistake.
Flathead have started to school up in the rivers and some big fish have been landed over the past couple of months.
When fishing for flathead or indeed any of your bread-and-butter species you don’t need an expensive combo to catch a decent fish. When using plastics, it’s not important to have a sensitive rod, as they won’t take off as hard as bream and don’t tend to rub you against the pylons. Likewise, monofilament line will be more than adequate when fishing for these fairly docile fish.
Small poddy mullet, herring, prawns and yabbies are the best bait for flatties and using plastics 4-5” in size and in a shad or fish shape usually work well. A 2/0 short or long shank hook with a small ball sinker should get you into some fish.
Up on the sand flats is a good place to catch these fish, as well as along any steep sand or mud drop-offs. Fishing the out going tide is the best time for flatties as all the bait will be getting washed off the sand flats and into the waiting ambusher’s mouth.
This diagram shows a simple Paternoster rig used for offshore reef fishing.Reads: 5590