If this is quiet…
  |  First Published: August 2003

So the fishing can be real quiet over Winter… Only last week on my charters we caught several jewfish to 17.5kg, flathead to 4kg, bream, trevally and stacks of tailor.

Then I nicked out the other day with Andrew Ettingshausen of the Escape with ET TV show and we decked 13 nice reds to 3.5kg in under two hours. Then a day later a mate tagged a 100kg striped marlin on the shelf wide of Broken Bay and sighted another. Yeah, the fishing can be real quiet over Winter, can't it?

Fishing may be more consistent in the warmer months but Winter has a lot going for it. The average size of the fish seems to improve and most bites received in these months are from keeper-sized fish. Those pesky little bait-stealers of Summer seem to have vanished so it's possible to keep a decent bait in the water for affair while.

The fishing pressure is also less, as the cooler weather seems to have put a lot of anglers off, so less boat and people activity is always a plus for Winter. I also find those hot, summery days incredibly draining and tiring. The old shorts-and-T-shirt weather is fine but spending long periods on the water I find far more draining in summer.

The mornings and evenings can be cold but I found that often the fish seem to think so as well and peak fishing periods are often when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature quite pleasant. Winter is the time of big fish, too. I've caught some monstrous jewfish in August over the years and while there might not be heaps of them, they are quality. The same can be said for most of the other species as well.

These still nights are good for hairtail and, from current reports, there are enough kicking around up Cowan Creek to warrant an outing. Prime baits seem to be pilchards or small live yellowtail, with long strips of mullet also worth a go.

Groper hot

With the westerlies running, it's also prime time for groper. I have caught a number recently on my charters without targeting them. Good fish, too – up to 9kg.

A lot of people don't realise there is some great groper fishing back inside Broken Bay in the area inside Little Box Head and Big Box Head, around the back end of Lion Island and Middle Head.

The salmon have been a bit off lately but the time you read this they should be in full flight. Here's also hoping for a few mackerel tuna as they used to be August regulars along the Central Coast. Remember, smaller lures and red-hot retrieves, with the first hour of light and the last hour the prime times. Occasionally I found throwing smaller live yellowtail into a school, if you can get near it, also very productive.

Off the rocks the pigs should still be firing and again this seems to be a good year for them. The beaches should hold some salmon and tailor and odd big bream.

This can be a good time of year to tune up your fishing skills. A lot of people book me for charters to learn various techniques they and often apply what they learn from their vessels or from the shore. Nothing brings me more joy than to see people who have struggled with their fishing over the years book a charter, come out and catch the fish of their dreams – if not on that outing, then soon afterwards.

About a decade ago I was doing quite a bit of game fishing out of Broken Bay and a friend and I chartered a game boat, The Sheriff, for a couple of days to learn a few of their tricks. We could have learnt by ourselves over time but we figured it made more sense to pay some professionals to show us how to do it.

So we spent two days learning the fine points on trolling lures for marlin. Then, on our first day out on our new boat, we tagged three striped marlin in four hours.

A number of years ago I spent a full Winter fishing for yellowfin out of Broken Bay every weekend. There’s a serious lack of yellowfin around nowadays compared with years gone by and but the number of marlin off our coast during the cooler months is still impressive. Just because the water is cold in close doesn't mean the water on the shelf or wider is cold. And again, the fish out there during the cooler months are usually larger.

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