Foul-weather options
  |  First Published: March 2003

This month’s column was going to be about something completely different from weather but, for some reason, the South Coast has experienced some extraordinary weather patterns over the past 12 months.

The weather has totally destroyed many fishing trips I had planned, with large seas and strong winds from just about every direction known to humans. Last Winter and Spring we had constant howling westerlies that wiped out any fishing in the Shoalhaven River, outside or in Jervis Bay. And when they did abate, the seas came up and stopped most anglers from getting outside or fishing the rocks or beaches.

Just recently we’ve had an unusually high number of black nor’-easters that have made fishing outside or on the rocks and beaches almost impossible for days on end.

Weather patterns such as these can be frustrating if you are a keen angler. They tend to make planning any fishing trip difficult. I’ve lost count of the trips I’ve had to call off because of bad weather over the past year. Most were due to strong winds but often big seas were also to blame.

Even more frustrating than having to call off a trip is waking up the next morning and finding that the forecast 30-knot southerly or 40-knot westerly didn’t eventuate and it’s too late to do anything about it.

This just happened to me yesterday. The bureau forecast was for moderate north-west winds ahead of a gusty southerly change later in the afternoon. A mate and I had planned to fish the rocks but with such a change forecast, we decided to fish the river instead. The morning dawned clear and still and the day was almost perfect until the southerly came through at 6pm…

Years ago I used to just go rock fishing most times without even thinking about the weather and we used to sort it out when we got to the place by having a look at the seas and weather to see if it was fishable and safe. Most times it was and we seemed to fish a lot more often back then.

Back in the late 1970s we took up boat-fishing, which meant keeping a closer watch on what the weather was doing for obvious reasons but, even so, we got caught outside in some pretty bad conditions from time to time.

I guess these days I’m a little more choosy when planning trips. I’ve spent too much time over the years packing gear and boats, only to have them wiped out by bad weather at the last minute.

These days I always get a detailed weather report or map on a Friday so that my weekend fishing can be planned without wasted time and effort. With no shortage of things to do around the house or with the kids, I’m usually not too worried if the weather and sea don’t allow for what I had planned. I’ll often change plans to suit what I can’t change but my attitude these days is that there’s always next weekend and it’s no use getting annoyed with Mother Nature.

If you are really keen, you should have a few contingency plans in place and locations in the memory that allow you to at least wet a line and get it out of your system in just about any type of weather. I’m not going to detail any of mine but I do have options, such as the local river, if the seas are too big to fish the rocks or outside.

I have a couple of headlands that I can fish in a southerly and big seas and quite a few rock platforms and beaches that can be fished in westerly winds before the seas roll back. I even have a few trout and carp options if things get really bad and I can’t fish near the coast.

Failing that I’ll play Championship Bass on the computer or watch fishing videos.

Some nice fish have been being taken lately when the weather allows. There are some very nice reds for those prepared to get fresh bait and learn the basics of how to anchor up-current of reef and fish floaters back towards the structure. Areas like The Shallows and some inshore reefs are regularly producing fish to 6kg along with the odd king. Also outside are some good flathead on the inshore sand and gravel patches. Quite a few of these are being taken on soft plastics and small jigs these days, so keep an eye out for a feature.

Beach jew

From the beaches there are a few jew starting to show up. The next few months will see more and more fish about with, April-June the best bet. Any fresh bait, such as fillets or squid, will take fish but I’m going to do a bit with soft plastics in some favourite gutters this season just to prove a point. Also about for the beach angler are some nice bream that are eating pipis, worms and even pieces of squid, along with the odd whiting. There are also heaps of salmon from the beaches for anyone who throws lures or baits.

The river is fishing well for blackfish and flathead, along with the usual jewfish and bream for the night owls. Regular reports are filtering through of jewies grabbing soft plastics everywhere, from the Nowra Bridge down to the river entrance. Most of these fish are grabbing larger-style soft plastics with the 6” Storm Wild Eye Shad still the firm favourite with the guys who take the most fish. Further up river there are some nice bass being taken.

Bunk House B & B

There are no shortage of bed-and-breakfast operations down our way but one that has recently opened is run by a local family and offers fishing charters as part of the package. Neil Rowlands has been a keen local sport and game fisherman for many years and has recently had his Blackwatch 26 surveyed and approved for charter work.

The Bunkhouse is at Orient Point and consists of a two-bedroom cottage with an enclosed barbecue area with an open fire. It sleeps five guests and has a living and dining area along with TV, video and other conveniences.

Boat charters are included in family packages and these are aboard Highlander, which is equipped with a full range of Shimano and Penn tackle from 4kg to 37kg stand-up or chair. Neil’s forte is gamefishing during the warmer months for dolphin fish, yellowfin, kingfish and albacore, along with black, blue and striped marlin, which are tag and release only.

During the cooler months Highlander also does reef work for reds and mowies and if the weather isn’t favourable, you can always fish in closer for flathead or reds or even fish the Shoalhaven River. The Rowlands also do sightseeing charters around Jervis Bay and whale- and dolphin-watching in season.

Knowing Neil, this operation is going to be run very smoothly and will be based on making sure guests are well-catered for in all areas. Phone them on 02 4447 3143 or email --e-mail address hidden--



Being successful at foul-weather fishing means having a few spots up your sleeve that can be fished when the wind is howling or the seas are big. Bob Russo fishing for bream in the Shoalhaven River.


March isn’t too late to catch flathead. Andrew Finney with 85 cm of late-season lizard on a soft plastic.


The rocks are producing some nice blackfish for the bobby cork and cabbage guys. These fish were taken at Currarong


The author with a bream to prove that hard-bodied lures still work and that the fish haven’t forgotten what they look like now that everyone is fishing soft plastics.

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