Just because it's the middle of Winter does not mean that the fishing stops on the Central Coast. Flicking through the fishing log of my charters for the past two Julys shows some quite respectable hauls of bream, trevally, flathead, salmon, tailor and jewfish as well as some hairtail.
July can be a beautiful time to be fishing our coast. The early mornings and evenings can be quite brisk, but I find them not all that necessary in the cooler months. It seems that the fish prefer the warmth of the middle of the day as well as the anglers and I have often found that the peak feeding periods in Winter are often around the warmest parts of the day – which makes it a lot easier on us.
This time of year there seems to be an absence of those little pickers that can make bait-fishing very difficult during the warmer months. I find in Winter that if you get a bite, it's usually from a legal-sized fish.
For those seeking surface action, salmon and tailor are safe bets. These fish usually respond well to bait and lures, but the salmon can be real fussy buggers at times. Best baits for both seem to be pilchards or big strip baits and if you want to target the larger sambos and tailor, try big garfish.
It's worth noting that that there can be other fish following the schools of salmon and tailor, but hanging down deep. Schools of trevally usually hang underneath the salmon, picking up the scraps, and they can usually be lured to the boat by a steady trail of cubed pilchards. The odd giant kingfish can also lurk under the salmon schools, with the best bait being a smaller live salmon slow-trolled lip-hooked.
At night on the beaches, those big gars seem to separate the men from the boys. North Entrance Beach, Winter and huge tailor go hand in hand. The Gosford Broadwater has its moments as well, with catches of very big bream and school jewfish if you can handle to cold night air. Often some quite large tailor also seem to hang around in this area.
I find berley essential in the estuaries and around the river mouths at this time of year. It seems the fishes’ metabolisms slow down in the cooler water and they are less likely to feed and a nice, steady berley trail makes all the difference in triggering them to feed.
There have been quite a few hairtail coming in from around Broken Bay, so I'm hoping that by the time you all read this we’ll be getting good catches up Cowan Creek. Dark nights and high tides seem to favour the hairtail but this is not cut and dried. Nothing is certain with hairtail – they seem to turn up at the strangest places at the strangest times.
This can also be a good time for catching rock blackfish and groper from the stones and both of these will give you a good work-out. For the rock blackfish I like a few different baits, such as abalone gut, bread and prawns. These fish can be quite fussy. Bread seems to work well as a berley for and again can make the difference between a catch of two or a bag limit of five.
Groper love those red rock crabs and if you are a bit squeamish about shoving you hands into rock crevices to drag them out, you can always front up on the rock platforms the evening before your outing with a strong torch and you'll find them far easier to capture. I like to fish for both of these fish with a bare minimum of lead or with a small bobby cork that offers the minimal amount of resistance to a fish picking up the bait. I prefer to start with heavy gear and if I'm not getting bites, I'll work my way down to lighter stuff.
Offshore there should be few flathead along the 50-metre line as well as reds and mowies. In a bit closer, it's the time for those big silver trevally. Berley is again essential to a good catch. Anywhere outside it pays to have a big live bait down towards the bottom and, if possible, one 10 metres under the surface. This is the time for oversized kingies and the odd yellowfin tuna. So it is certainly worth leaving the comforts of home to get and have a fish. Those cool, still Winter days are a pleasure to fish as there is usually very little boat traffic and is not such a need for early starts and late nights.Reads: 503