If you are getting an early start on the water and you are in a boat, make sure you have gloves, beanie and a few extra layers on because boy, is it cold!
When the boat jumps on the plane that light Winter westerly cuts through to the bone. It may well be cold but it is certainly worth making that early start when the target species is an estuary jew on plastic or an offshore snapper.
The Clyde River is flogged by commercial fishers but it is not a total write-off for the determined angler.
Wade Eaton has been finding a school jewfish between 4kg and 7kg every week or so in a number of locations throughout the Clyde. First light, when most anglers are still dreaming of a jew is when success usually comes.
Wade looks on his depth sounder for a rise in the bottom structure. He casts up-current then slowly works the plastic back to the boat, keeping occasional contact with the bottom.
Getting the lure in front of the fish’s nose is more important than what type or colour but 2”, 3” and 4” Storm Shads, Squidgy Fish and Wrigglers, Berkley 3” and 4” stickbaits and Gulp Worms have all done the damage.
An electric motor is vital for this type of fishing as it lets you keep the nose of the boat pointing into the current and helps keep the lure in the strike zone.
Retrieving lures with the current to a rise in bottom structure takes some practice and snag-ups are common. You need to develop a sixth sense as well as an intimate knowledge of the bottom structure to know when to avoid the rough patches.
Jewfish will almost always be sitting in front of structure waiting for food to be swept to them, as they are fairly lazy feeders when the tide is running.
During a tide change, however, they will move about and hunt for food but once that tide turns again, they will seek a similar refuge but still face into the current flow.
Intelligent use of a quality sounder combined with the ability to get the lure into the strike zone – and a big dose of persistence – will see success come your way.
Work usually prohibits me from having an ongoing crack at daytime estuary jew but I have hooked and lost six fish in the past year due to pulled hooks. But I finally managed to keep the hook in one recently.
It was only a 4kg pup but boy did it have my heart racing. Three runs and plenty of head-shakes and it was in the net. A couple of happy snaps and the jew was returned to grow big and strong.
At present there are vast schools of large whitebait in the Clyde and that is what the jewies are feeding on. Some bait balls on the sounder have been eight metres round with several schoolies and the odd big flathead gorging themselves on them.
If you decide to release a jewfish, drive a good distance away from where you hooked it because they can put the rest of the school off the bite.
Wade has had a few multiple fish sessions but only when fish were released away from the hot spot or when he has kept one for a feed, which is not often. We missed the hook-up on three other jewfish due to cold hands and slow reactions.
The bite of a jew on plastic is sharp and quick. Lightning reflexes are required and being chilled to the bone on the trip up-river does nothing to help the situation.
It is all over on bream in the river for the season but I have been finding some good estuary perch in the lower end of the system on surface lures. Once again, finding the bait is the key.
The perch have been feeding on prawns, which is probably their most preferred food item. Find the prawns and the perch will usually be fairly close by. I caught and released six in the oyster racks averaging 1kg on jelly prawn Squidgy Bugs recently and had as many missed strikes.
On the snapper front, the big fish have been slow to arrive with only the occasional fish to 6.5kg landed. Good numbers of reds to 3kg have been taken from the rocks and out wide.
Flat seas due to the usual Winter westerlies makes chasing a snapper a bit harder so if we get a good bump, make the dash to the rocks or close reefs once it is safe to have a throw.
The kingfish season was a bit of a fizzer but some quiet achievers have still been regularly catching a few from 8kg to 12kg on live slimies and jigs.
Salmon should be going great this month if last year is anything to go by. On the beaches we were having a ball spinning up big thugs on metal lures off Malua Bay beach for weeks on end, even when the sea was blown flat by westerlies.
Salmon also invaded the Moruya river in massive numbers, providing champagne light-tackle sports fishing for more than eight weeks. Many locals have their fingers crossed for the sambos to return this season.
Estuary salmon are quite common down around the Victorian border but for South Coast people it was a unique experience and a great way to keep the body warm. These fish take a long time to beat on bream gear so here’s hoping for more of the same.
Yellowfin bream have left the estuaries and are on the move up the coast. For something different and challenging, try catching them on plastics off the ocean rocks. Ben Roberts caught this one on a watermelon 3” Berkley Bass Minnow.
Yet another jew on plastic for Wade Eaton. This one, estimated at 7kg, was released to hopefully grow to a ripe old age.Reads: 840