Looking back through my fishing diaries, August is one of those months where you have to plan meticulously and work hard to get a feed.
Water temperatures are down, westerly winds never cease to blow and the chill factor can be numbing. Getting out of bed early takes courage as bare feet hit cold tiles in the bathroom.
This month, more than ever, we have to focus on a certain species and then do everything within our power to try and catch them. Going out week after week with a broad shotgun approach will almost certainly lead to failure.
Winter species around here include john dory, tailor, salmon, drummer, blackfish, bream, chinaman leatherjackets and trevally. There’s plenty to choose from and those who set their sights on one species per outing will usually bring home the goods.
Water is usually very clear so target deeper areas. If you can see the fish, they can probably see you. Fish light with little or no weight and use live baits such as nippers, crabs, worms and so on for that added attraction.
Plenty of berley will also get lethargic fish into a feeding mood. Remember to keep the berley going when the bite hots up.
Salmon are still dominating the beaches with fish weighing 2kg to 3kg the norm. These hard fighting fish can also be taken on chrome lures with the old-fashioned half-by-quarters one of the best.
Steve Reid reports big blackfish off the rocks and he saw some thumper bream come off some local beaches on worm baits. Tailor can be seen in the waves early mornings with the sun behind and these fish too will fall to a chrome lure cranked fast.
With no help from Dad, seven-year-old Tyler Perry landed a 3kg salmon off Barrenjoey on a pilchard bait. He was exhausted after the tussle but the grin lasted all the way back to the boat ramp.
Small sharks have been giving anglers fun on strip and live baits on the northern side of Lion Island. It amazes me that these sharks are there nearly all year round so if you want to give fish to the neighbours, there’s plenty of meat on these small toothy predators.
Although fluctuating around 15°, occasionally the water is not that horrible bottle-green we associate with Winter. Sometimes it has a touch of blue about it and it’s crystal clear.
A small current to the south can be noticeable on the wider grounds. I pulled three snapper to 2kg out from Boultons recently in a very sloppy sea. A couple of sergeant bakers and three gummy sharks after dark made up the total catch.
Slimy mackerel are everywhere on the reefs and now is a good time to stock up on the frozen bait supply. An amberjack fell to a pilchard floated off Newport by Jimmy Dalgliesh fishing off his mate’s boat.
Squid are prolific around reefs, especially the Queenscliff Bommie, with some well over a kilo. Those line-snipping menaces, the Chinaman leatherjackets, are there but not in huge numbers like last year – yet. If they are driving you mad, just fish for them because they make great tucker.
Up around Mooney Mooney oyster racks there are heaps of bream but they are turning up their noses at small plastic grubs as well as hard-bodied minnows. The water has to be flogged hard to induce a strike.
Those small, throw-back soapy jewfish are showing up at Dangar Island, Peats Bight, Marlo and Gunyah Beach. They seem to love a berley trail and a halved pillie. Be gentle with these small mulloway as they don’t take well to being hooked and a little TLC is needed to get them swimming again.
Narrabeen and Queenscliff lagoons need rain to kick these usually productive fisheries back into gear. Small throwback dusky flathead are around the Pittwater Bridge and there are some big bully mullet seen by the cycle brigade on the Pelican Walk pathway.
• Monthly tip: When playing a fish, never give it slack line. Two things will happen if tension is relieved. First, the hook can just fall out and, secondly, the fish will get second wind and fight harder if it feels it has some chance of winning its freedom.Reads: 494