Winter fishing is not for the faint hearted, especially early starts on the water, but the rewards for thinking outside the regular routine or even the text book standards will surprise you.
This time of year there is little point fishing a spot if you are not getting results. An expression that is sneaking into the common fishing usage, especially of late, is shotgunning.
Basically it means hitting a variety of spots quickly. If you don’t see results, don’t waste too much time. It can be a matter of moving only 100 metres along a bank, a beach or reef before you find the fish.
This technique has proven itself a couple of times in a matter two trips.
The first was fishing the wash at Blackhead for my beloved pigs. Three of us littered the water with bread berley and baits for absolutely nothing save a just-legal bream.
Then we spot-hopped southwards along the pebbly beach until a bread bait flicked behind a dinner table-sized rock was smashed by an enthusiastic big bream.
Subsequent baits were dealt with by a variety of fish including whiting, bream and unstoppable pigs.
It was almost like fishing in an aquarium yet we were only a few hundred metres from a rock fringe that for the world looked fishy but yielded nothing.
We could have easily decided the fish were not on the job and gone home empty-handed but a few prospecting baits pinpointed a stock of fish and we spent the next hour or so reaping the rewards.
The second incident was on the Manning River before the floods last month. A few quick casts with surface lures found an aggregation of bass that were contained in a stretch no wider the 50metres.
Two others in our party had no joy all afternoon and retired on dark, half an hour before we found fish. While we didn’t land too many fish (biggest 45cm) we were treated to some big surface hits and the frustration that goes with them.
So don’t give up; try things that you would perhaps not generally attempt.
The recent rain certainly has caused many anglers to do things a little differently. The rain may have caused a few headaches for some but the bass fishos in the area should be rejoicing.
It means a good spawning run this year, although a little late, but it will concentrate fish during Spring and make them easy targets.
As you would expect, the seawalls at Forster and Tuncurry are fishing well for bream and the odd school jew.
Schools of slimy mackerel have been making forays into the channel under the trawlers during the rising tide. With the baitfish are chopper tailor and a few bigger to 1.3kg that have been halving soft plastics and occasionally hooking up.
The blackfish are still the focus for many in the lake around structure and along the walls. Flathead should be prevalent in the lower lake and river mouths once the river clears properly.
The Paddocks and the flats around Godwin Island have fished reasonably for bream on baits, with one prime bait being blackfish gut.
The leatherjackets should shine again this month with plenty of seven-spine and fan-belly jackets getting around structure in the lake.
The rock fishing scene is still bubbling along.
Plenty of pigs have hit the stones and if you want a good feed, try them. The large white fillets can be cooked in a variety of ways, including crumb-and-fry or lightly grilled and topped with a sauce or pesto.
Many are hoping for a late run of big tailor and the promise of vast schools of salmon are still to make an impact on the spin fraternity.
Bream are still hanging around the coast and, along with the odd blackfish, can be taken on yabbies, prawns and even bread.
Seagull Point at the Palms, Burgess Beach and Bennetts Head are all worth a look, with good wash and sub-surface formations and holes that hold fish at this time of year.
Some gutter formations along Tuncurry Beach have fished well but, like the weather, the formations on the beaches change pretty regularly, depending on the sea conditions.
Bream, dart, tailor and smallish salmon are available on a variety of baits but late afternoon fishing can be a little cold so rug up.
So this time of year it is a matter of making the most of it and taking the odd chance at something different. The rewards are there, you just need to look in the right spots.Reads: 504