Winter is not my favourite time to fish for pelagics because most of the bonito, kings and small tunas have exited with the arrival of the cold water.
What we’re left with are tailor, salmon and odd kingfish and some months even these are hard to find.
I must admit that salmon are one of my favourite fish to catch on lures because they pull hard and jump when hooked.
I love the sight of large school salmon busting up, as on most occasions this means some of the best light-tackle sports fishing available in cooler water. There is nothing more exciting than to 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. Usually it’s into the wind.
Then position your boat upwind and drift back to the school. This way you are less likely to spook the school. Also see what they are feeding on and match your lure with the bait.
I like to target salmon and other small pelagics on 2kg to 4kg spinning gear, which allows the fish to make long runs and put some serious bend in my clients’ rods. I use a Strudwick SBP 7’ 4kg with a Shimano Sustain 4000FD loaded with 8lb to 10lb Super Braid or 8lb Fireline. These outfits will cast small metal and soft plastic lures and handle most fish that we target with lures except kingfish around the marker poles and structure.
When fishing these areas I upgrade to 8kg to12 kg SBP Strudwick rods and Shimano Spheros 8000 reels with 30lb to 50lb braid. For trolling I use a Shimano T-Curve 6kg with a Shimano Trinidad 20 or a TLD 15 loaded with 30lb Super Braid
I cast small metals and flies to match the size of the baitfish. Soft plastic stickbaits on jigs or unweighted and small poppers are deadly on salmon and tailor. For trolling I use small minnows like Producer Barra Maulers, Rapala CD 7s and CD 9s, small Christmas Trees and soft plastic stickbaits.
Bream are caught in good numbers and sizes around the oyster racks, pontoons and shore this month.
Small crankbaits and soft plastics cast close to structure will catch fish. Fish a little slower than you do for bass and make sure you don’t strike too hard – wait until the rod loads before setting the hook.
Tackle for bream and bass are similar only line and leader may have to be changed. I use 6’6” and 7’ spin rods with 4lb to 8lb braid and adjust my leader from 6lb to 10lb to suit the conditions and the structure being fished.
This month temperatures drop, willows lose their leaves and bass and estuary perch school up for their spawning run to the saltwater. From now until September is my favourite time to target these fish.
There is nothing like those still, cold Winter mornings when the mist is lifting off the water and we experience our best bass fishing in size and numbers.
Winter bass and perch are down-river in brackish water and I’ve found they will hold wider and deeper in Winter. The best ways to target these fish are with soft plastics and deep fly fished in and around the eddies or where the water is not running.
I locate the fish with my Matrix sounder, noting how deep they are and where they are holding. You can anchor, drift or use an electric motor depending on the wind and current.
I lower the jig and keep in contact with the it on the descent because often fish will strike on the drop.Reads: 453