That familiar nip is certainly in the air! It’s time to don the beanie and get ready to do battle with our traditional Winter species targets.
This time of year the warm-weather anglers pack away their gear until the return of Summer – their loss is our gain, with plenty of good fish on the chew.
Action around the rocks and beaches is always on the up-and-up at this time of year with anglers having trouble deciding on which species to target. Many get locked into chasing their favourite species rarely varying outside those boundaries, but even they are confused with what's on offer.
Tailor have certainly been high on everyone’s list, with quality fish from the rocks and the beach gutters north and south of the town. After dark, some better quality fish have been on the prowl with large greenback tailor greedily sucking in unweighted baits of garfish or pilchards. Jewfish, too, are getting into the act, dining on a smorgasbord of tailor and mullet. Some fresh fillets of either fish deployed just on dark on a rising tide should see you tangling with some chrome-sided jewies.
Quite a few bream are also cruising the washes, readily snapping strip baits of fresh tailor presented to them. A lot of anglers make the mistake of fishing too heavy for bream but downsizing line size and using sensitive rods can produce more bites, therefore more hook-up opportunities. This applies especially in daylight, when bream can be quite shy.
These next few months are prime times for pigs. The cooler the weather, the better the bite for these headland thugs. Drummer fishing can be a brutal affair with both angler and fish giving little ground. Sometimes backing off the drag a little can see you gaining more ground on a fish, rather than skull-dragging the fish towards you and threatening in a bust-off.
In the estuary there is plenty happening to keep an angler’s attention. Flatties still remain co-operative, keenly taking prawns or whitebait and drilling all sorts of lures. The ‘Summer-only’ tag for flatties should be well and truly ignored because good numbers of flathead are on offer right through the Winter around here.
Some fine bream are also around, with oyster leases and breakwaters supporting good numbers. With the nights being slightly chilly, a lot of anglers give it a miss, staying huddled around the heater. But for the keen angler, there can be some hot action.
During daylight, anglers are still fooling bream with artificals. The soft plastic revolution has really gained in popularity with anglers working over lease areas with great success. Bream climb all over these small jigs, providing great light-tackle action.
Blackfish are slightly quiet but any day now I would expect the action to heat up. By the time you read this, I would say blackfish anglers will be tucking bronzies into their keeper nets. Weed is still a problem but for those in the know they always seem to be armed with a good handful of the green fodder.
Over recent weeks Huey has dished up all sorts of conditions for the offshore fraternity, with no two days giving back-to-back conditions. Hopefully the Winter will provide some stable conditions.
Bottom-fishing should improve dramatically with good-quality fish available from most offshore reefs. The shallow reefs should be harbouring good numbers of reddies. Floatlining these areas should see some great light-tackle action. A steady stream of berley will get the fish on the bite but, remember, overdosing on the berley can be counter-productive.
A few pelagic fish remain in the picture, with cobia and mackerel still snooping about. The next few weeks will see them gone for another year. This year's action was certainly a stark improvement on last year’s dismal showing, with some fine fish boated. With ringnetting finally shown the door, next year should be better again.
Dave Farrawell shows that flathead are still available in Winter around Port Macquarie.Reads: 432