Anglers on Botany Bay and Port Hacking are tested at this time of the year as the fishing starts to slow, temperatures slide and Winter takes its grip.
Winter is a time to step back a little and sort out your tackle, service your reels, stock up on gear or repair that broken rod-tip guide that you have put aside.
There is one part of your equipment that is always overlooked and you tend to see the results come the start of Summer on the side of the road or at the ramp. So many anglers forget about their trailers and boat batteries.
If you spend a small amount of time addressing these are two small details then you can avoid a whole lot of grief.
Once a year, I replace the trailer’s bearings, all four sets, regardless of wear. New bearings give me peace of mind in knowing that they’re right for the coming season and they won’t let me down on my way to the ramp.
How often have you seen a broken-down trailer on the roadside? I always buy bearing kits and use waterproof grease. The job normally takes two or three hours to complete.
The next small job that I carry out on my trailer is to prevent the onslaught of rust with a good coating of Ozspray or a similar product. It won’t stop the rust but will slow it down and give your trailer quite a few more years of life.
Make sure you give your springs and axle a good coating because these are the areas where rust seems to start. A new trailer should be coated before first use.
Batteries often give anglers problems at the ramp. Most boats sit in the yard all winter until that first hint of fine weather and it’s off to the ramp, only to find that the battery is flat.
The same problem would occur in your car if you only drove it for a few months of the year. Batteries like to be recharged regularly so to avoid problems you will just have to go fishing more often (I’m sue your wife will understand) or buy a good charger.
Remove the batteries from your boat, open the caps on top and once a month give your batteries a few hours of charge. Always keep the electrolyte topped up with distilled water.
Winter fishing in the Hacking River is normally rather good and there a few species that are worth chasing, top tucker and fun to catch.
Luderick seem to thrive in the cooler water and throughout the system there are plenty of spots worth trying.
Look for a rocky shoreline that has rather deep water in close; from three metres to five metres deep is about right. I like to anchor with two picks, one on the shore and the other out on the bottom to will allow you to fish along the tidal flow just on the edge of the structure.
I have caught luderick on both tides but it’s the run out that seems to produce the better results for me. Berley is essential and consists of one part of chopped weed and 10 parts of sand. The odd slice of crumbled bread may help.
As bait you will need to pick out the better-looking weed with fresh, long strands and lait it around a No 8 to No 10 hook like the Mustad 540.
Tackle consist of a long, soft rod between 2.5metres and three metres. I like a small centrepin reel loaded with Schneider Fine Line 6kg as main line which runs through the long-stemmed float to a swivel and then a trace of 4kg to the hook.
I use just enough weight to sink my float to the top of the cork and on my trace I fit enough small split shot to just sink my float until 30mm of the stem is showing. A luderick needs very little effort to sink my float to indicate a bite.
Luderick bite well all day and provide great sport so if you haven’t tried fishing for them, I strongly recommend it.
Another species that seems more at home in Winter than Summer is the leatherjacket. These fish love structure so any spot that will provide them with cover and food is a top spot.
I love fishing for them in South West Arm and there are plenty of spots with good structure where the shore drops into deep water.
As with luderick, I prefer two anchors so I can fish tight to the structure.
The rig that works for me is rather simple and can be fished on a handline or a rod. It’s a No 4 ball sinker at the bottom and a long-shank No 10 hook about 60cm up as a dropper . Bait is prawn, nipper or squid. Shallow-fried fresh leatherjacket is hard to beat!Reads: 430