Winter is well and truly here and the word on every rock angler’s blue, frozen lips is: ‘Pigs’.
Just take a drive around the ocean front on any day and you will find a lone 4WD parked on some solitary, windswept headland, clad with rod-holders and roof racks. Be warned, this is the realm of abalone gut and cunjevoi, where sane civilisation is left for dead forsaken for a unique style of fishing ruled by the elements. Rock blackfish, or drummer, as the locals call them, have been hitting the washes in plague proportions up and down our coast.
Local wash king Bloodnut has been braining good drummer in washes around Fingal and Tomaree. His secret to success is practice. This guy lives and breathes rock fishing and really knows a thing or two about drummer, especially around Fingal. Having said that, there are still plenty of fish there for you and I to catch if we can bear the elements.
For the growing number of anglers now using soft plastics with increasing results, the ultimate prize for many is stud Winter bream. For those wishing to fulfill their dream, now is the time to do it. Throughout the port, giant bream have taken up residence among the weed beds, rock walls and oyster racks.
Winter breaming is a very different type of fishing to that done in the Summer. The fish are wary and timid and there are a lot fewer of them, but its size we’re after, not numbers. The soft plastics in your arsenal should include small paddletails and curl-tails. I’ve found that these big, shy Winter bream respond best to natural colours, especially in clear water, so anything in clear, amber or ‘prawnish’ in colour is perfect. Small, strong, extremely sharp jig heads are also available and are almost mandatory for best results.
Having said that, lure colour is definitely not the most important thing for catching big bruiser bream. The order of the day is light fluorocarbon leaders, gelspun line on a small threadline reel and a carbon rod light enough in the tip to feel every twitch or your lure. That makes it sound like rocket science and, well, rocket science might sneak into it a bit, but it’s well worth it when you’re holding your prize.
Taking a cruise trolling lures past the headlands, I found some nice tailor holed up in the washes around Fingal Island and I’m sure they’d be right along the coast at this very moment. Salmon have also been schooling in huge numbers. These two species form a major part of the fishing scene at the moment and are likely to hang around until about the end of October.
Other than that this year, like I’ve said so many times has been a pretty lousy season here at Port Stephens so at least we’ve got something to catch now, it’s just a matter of beating the weather and you can’t go wrong.
A lure-slamming Winter bream is well worth the effort and warms up even the most chilly morning.Reads: 542