THE GRIT and squeak of the beach sand underfoot can be a prelude to some good catches of fresh fish this month, with plenty of size tailor sneaking along the coast.
Most beaches with high-tide gutter or hole formations are currently holding the attention of the tailor schools early morning and late afternoon. As the light penetration increases, the tailor schools retreat to the wider, deeper fringes of the beaches and headlands.
When the tailor roam wide, the best way to track them down is to throw a heavy metal slice lure beyond the breakers. Raiders, Sea Rocks or the old half-by-a-quarter lures are great low-profile lures that fly with little effort. Allow the lure to sink and then rip it back fast.
One pleasant surprise, whether using baits or lures, are the storming big salmon that have spread well up the coast. They have made a pleasant return in numbers this year and, while they are hardly brilliant on the plate, they are brilliant on the end of a line.
In the 2kg to 4kg range, they put up a good fight and will take lures and flesh baits of pilchards, mullet fillets and even pipis and worm baits.
If tailor or salmon aren’t your pleasure, there are plenty of pipis on Seven and Nine Mile beaches and it won’t take long to float a few out of the sand with the receding waves. Some good bream pepper the beaches and many schools still linger around the headlands.
One thing you will need to be aware of is the drawing run of water along the beach from north to south. It will have your bait dragging the shallows if you don’t anchor it adequately with the right sinker and rig.
The old paternoster rig with a star or grapple sinker will help to hold position against the surge and in the gutter or hole you are fishing. The spearfishers I have spoken to reckon the big schools of bream and blackfish, that I reported a month ago, still haven’t made any moves into the estuary.
Spinning the breakwalls at Forster/Tuncurry has been producing some big tailor on the top of the tide and early in the day. Along the wall, bream and blackfish have been poaching baits floated in the faster running water of the run-out tide. Mullet strips, weed and yabbies are prime baits.
The trickle of bream into the estuary from the beach is slower than most seasons and this can be attributed to the lack of rain and perhaps even a lack of really heavy south-easterly seas.
In spite of the slow move there are still plenty of well-fed bream shadowing the oyster racks, flats and even the snags of the lake and its tributaries. Slow-fished Berkley Bass Minnows around the snags of the lower Wallamba River will produce both bream and a few dusky flathead.
There have been some big bream hunting around the floating racks behind Regatta Island and on the leases around Mosquito Point and The Cut.
For some big Winter whiting, it would pay to soak some worm baits (beach or squirt) up in areas like the mouth of the Wang Wauk and Coolongolook Rivers. Patience is the key and part of the reward at this time of year is to enjoy the relaxed sunny, mild Winter days on the water.
These areas will also produce flathead, bream and mullet so take an assortment of gear for various rigging.
As mentioned earlier, there are still plenty of bream and blackfish along the coast with two bream caught from a local beach weighing 2.4kg and 1.9kg. The anglers were fishing heavy flesh baits at night and were rewarded with these thumpers. This is the quality of fish we can expect in the estuary if and when they get their traveling act together.
The rock blackfish (drummer) should be in top gear this month with the big boys coming out to play in the washes. I have had reports of 6kg fish but I think the exuberance of a hard fight from good-sized fish might have tainted a few early calls.
None of these fish has been verified on scales and a 4kg drummer is a very impressive fish. From the number of confetti scales that cover some rock platforms, someone is making a dent in the pig population.
The sounders on the offshore boats have been showing masses of bait and tailor schools around places like Latitude Rock and Cape Hawke. Catches of pinkies, trevally and even bream from the closer reefs have been common.
Offshore in Winter on the Mid-North Coast can be a poke in the dark so seek up-to-date weather and fishing info for improved success.
Talking of fishing info. I request anyone wishing to contact me by email put something in the subject box like ‘fishing’ or ‘Fishing Monthly’ so you don’t get bounced out of my inbox like so many emails that promise wonders for an old bloke like me.Reads: 617