WITH Winter here there’s no denying that some fishing has slowed considerably. There is still, however, some reasonable action to be had for those who don’t mind the colder weather.
Most ‘normal’ people would consider a warm Summer day to be beach weather but, to a small band of keen jewfish anglers down this way, May and June nights are the best times to go to the beach. If you want to catch a jewfish, you could do a lot worse than get out now and fish the night high tides. Beaches down this way that produce jew include Shoalhaven Heads and Currarong but there are several others that are probably worth a try.
Find a gutter and fish from dusk on a run-up tide for best results. Fresh bait is vital and if you can catch tailor on location, good. If not, get fresh yellowtail or even squid and fish either on a two-hook rig of 6/0 or 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopus (suicide pattern) hooks on a 25kg trace.
I use a four-metre Pacific Composites SU390G with a six-inch Alvey sidecast reel and 8kg or 10kg line. You can also use threadline gear with a Baitrunner-style reel so that a fish can take a few metres of line before you set the hook.
Chasing jew from the beaches at night can be cold and lonely so be sure to wear warm clothes and waders to keep dry and warm. It also helps to take a thermos of coffee, tea or soup so you can enjoy a short break every hour or so.
You’ve got to put the hours in but it’s all worthwhile when you hook that jew and feel the thumps and surges up the line. It’s even better when you see the roll up the beach in the shore break as it shines all gold and bronze.
Hitting the beaches during the day is also worthwhile at this time of year because you’re likely to find schools of salmon cruising the gutters. They’ll grab a lure and can usually be found by searching for working birds. I find it enjoyable and good exercise to spend an early morning just walking the beach and having a cast into the gutters.
Cold early mornings on the rocks don’t hold the appeal that they used to for me but I still occasionally get the urge. With an early run-up tide I fish royal red prawns or cunje into washes and around structure for drummer. Add a bread and cabbage berley and you can just about put money on getting dragged around a few times by big pigs.
This is where sidecast tackle really comes into its own. I use a seven-inch Alvey with 12kg line over a Pacific Composites FSU5144G to stop stubborn pigs. I use a 1/0 hook with a pea-sized sinker on top. The trick is to keep the bait moving and not to let it sit on the bottom unless you like catching wirrah or other nasties. You can try a bobby cork if the bottom is bad and you keep losing terminal tackle.
Once the drummer bite has slowed down it’s also worth fishing for blackfish. They will be moving into the estuaries in the next month but now they will still be eager to eat cabbage under a bobby cork or float. I like to fish a falling tide for blackfish from the rocks but if it’s running up, they’ll still bite. It’s also worth packing a light spin stick with 4kg or 6kg line and some metal lures because there are often salmon working the washes early.
If early starts on the rocks are your go then it’s worth getting some fresh bait and having a go in the washes for bream or throwing out a snapper bait. Best bream baits include crabs, pilchards, squid and tuna cubes cast in the washes on 6kg line. You can add berley if you plan on fishing just one area or you can just prospect by walking and fishing a bait in as many washes as you can. Cover the water by casting to different parts of the wash but expect to catch fish right at your feet just on daybreak.
Snapper can be fished with floating pilchards or garfish or with a bottom bait fished out wider on gravel. I like to fish floaters from the rocks, especially pilchards or sea gar on ganged hooks in the washes. You can also just let your floater sink slowly in deep water but I prefer the shallow stuff.
This is another area where sidecasts and 10kg line shines, although overheads are better for fishing bottom baits with 100g snapper leads, which need to be cast some distance.
Again there’s not much to report outside down this way. Things have been very slow for the past 12 to 18 months and just about all of the regulars are complaining. I’ve had my new boat for over 12 months and I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of successful snapper or kingfish trips we’ve had. I’d like a dollar back for every hour we’ve spent anchored up fishing berley and floaters for no result.
We’ve had a couple of worthwhile trips for reddies but they have been far outweighed by fishless sessions or, even worse, trips when a seal has sat at the back of the boat and eaten anything we’ve hooked.
Seals are a very real annoyance and it seems that every few trips there’s one hanging around on the more popular reefs just waiting for a boat to arrive with a free feed. Old Sammy will eat any cubes you put out as reddie berley and you can put money on him grabbing everything you hook off the line well before you see it. They must sense the vibrations of a fish fighting on the line because they get the fish every time you hook one and that includes everything from slimy mackerel to reddies. I’ve been told a few methods of solving the seal problem including putting dried chillies in a baitfish, but haven’t tried this yet.
Who knows what’s going to happen or even why the outside fishing has been so slow over the past 18 months? All I know is when the pros are complaining about no kingfish or reds, things are bad. Let’s just hope that this spring brings more favourable currents and some fish, because I know of one boat that will be on the market if they don’t!
Drummer are a great June option when fishing the rocks. They pull hard and taste great.
Roger Morley and Bob Russo fishing for blackfish from the rocks at Currarong.
Bob Russo landing a blackfish in tough territory.
Solid blackfish like this are a great challenge from the rocks and provide great meals.Reads: 987