This is when the air and water temperatures fall, the willows shed their leaves and most bass anglers pack their tackle away until the willows start to shoot in Spring.
It is also the time that bass and estuary perch start to school up for their spawning run down to the saltwater
While most bass anglers are tucked up in bed on those cooler mornings, those in the know are catching and releasing bass that their slumbering Summer colleagues can only dream of. As a fishing guide, I target bass and estuary perch all year around and I must admit that May through to September is a favoured period. There is nothing like those still, cold, Winter mornings when mist is lifting off the water. This is also time we have our best bass fishing, both in size and numbers.
In Winter, bass and estuary perch move down-river to brackish water and this is where you’ll have to target them. I’ve also found that they will hold wider and deeper in Winter.
Winter is not my favourite time to fish pelagics because most surface fish, such as bonito, kings and small tunas, follow the warmer water. What we’re left with are tailor and salmon and some months these are hard to find. Not that there’s anything wrong with salmon and tailor, it’s just that we don’t have the variety we have in the Summer.
I love the sight of large school salmon busting up because on most occasions this means some of the best light-tackle sports fishing available. There is nothing more exciting than have three or four anglers hooked up to hard- running, jumping salmon.
Take your time when you find a school of working fish to see in what direction they’re travelling. It’s usually into the wind but not always. Then position your boat up-wind and drift back to the school because you are less likely to spook the school. Also try to see what they are feeding on and match your lure with the bait.
I like to target salmon and other small pelagics on light (2kg to 4kg) spinning gear because this allows the fish to take long runs and put some serious bends in my clients’ rods. The tackle that I use on my boat includes the Strudwick TPS 7 and 6’6” 4kg Strudwick BWS 7’ 4kg and the new Strudwick SPS range 7’ and 6’6” 2kg to 4 kg rods matched with 4000 and 2000 Shimano Stradic reels.
I prefer small metal lures to match the size of the baitfish the salmon are feeding on. Soft plastics and small poppers are also deadly on salmon and tailor but put the plastics away if tailor are your main quarry – they cut soft plastics in half with every bite.
I just came back from a week away at South West Rocks and Port Macquarie, where I had a ball on a variety of fish in the estuary and offshore.
I fished for bream and flathead with Rob Taylor’s Taylor Made Lures around the Hastings River oyster racks and we cost him a fortune in lures. We were blown away by big bream around the racks and we even managed to land a few. We were using Nippy Shrimps in some of Rob’s secret colours on the bream and Predator Prawns on the flathead.
At South West Rocks I fished with Laurie McEnally on his boat Splashdown. We had three great days out with him and caught some mighty fish, including marlin, mahi mahi, kingfish, tuna and five wahoo to 15kg. We also cost Laurie four pusher lures, which were cut off by sharp wahoo teeth which slashed at the bubble trail from the swivel.
Three happy young anglers with the results of a triple salmon hook-up.
Greg Hutchison has plenty of fun with quality tailor on a cool May morning.Reads: 750