October is the month for things to really start happening on the Central Coast. This is the time of year when huge jewfish catches start to become far more regular, the big flathead show their shovel-like heads and you know the fishing is only going to get better.
On the surface around the Central Coast there are large schools of salmon carving up the surface. Underneath them are some oversized kingies that don't mind the odd smaller, slow-trolled live salmon. If you want to give this a try make sure you use suitable tackle – and for me this means a minimum of 24kg gear. Those jumbo-sized kingies are hard to find these days so to lose one just because the gear isn't up to scratch is foolish.
If no surface activity is evident the salmon and tailor can often be caught from the shore and from boats simply by casting or floating out whole pilchards or smaller yellowtails. Just because there aren’t any fish splashing on the surface or any sign of sea birds doesn't mean the fish aren't there.
Another successful method is trolling, using a range of lures from smaller tinsel X-mas tree style lures to deep diving minnows. This can also be the best time of year for striped tuna, which are tremendous fun to catch and can be a great bait supply for the coming season. If there are no signs of life on the surface they can be found by trolling smaller X-mas tree style lures or a 1/4oz red and white feather jigs. These fish hunt on the move and the prime trolling speed is at least eight knots, so if you’re out at sea travelling from spot A to spot B just slow down a bit and chuck out a couple of lures to see what's on top. If there's room, squeeze out either a larger squid-type lure in the 20-30cm range or a larger pusher style lure. If there are any school yellowfin tuna or marlin about, this just might get their attention. After all, if the lures or baits aren’t in the water, how will you know whether they’re there?
I find it quite amazing just how many good kingies there are for this time of year. Most of the activity was originally in the deeper water (90m+) where regular fish up to 10kg were encountered both on deep set jigs and live baits. Now there seem to be quite a few kingies in close and even in our estuary systems. The average size is above the 60cm legal size limit, which is pleasing to see. At this point they are responding well to both live baits and squid. My favourite trolling lure for these fighters is a white plastic squid approximately 12-15cm long. This lure always seems to outfish minnow lures by a large degree.
October is also a very good time for bream, with the average size of the fish being quite a bit better than at other times of the year. At this time of year they don't appear to be around the oyster leases though – instead they are quite thick close to the shore and around the estuary and river mouths. Flesh baits are working best for them, though in a couple of favourable spots I switch over to small rubber Squidgy lures and start flicking them down berley trails and hard up along the shoreline.
Amazingly, sometimes the bream can be there in numbers but are just switched off to bait. Throw a lure at them though and they woof it down. Some days the opposite applies. Why? I wouldn't have a clue; last bream I asked didn't have a comment on the matter.
Bream can be an incredibly aggressive and territorial fish and I’ve seen them in saltwater aquariums hunt down and kill every other living fish in the tank, even when some of the fish were many times larger than the bream. Just to re-enforce this I caught a bream that would've gone 1kg and it took a live yellowtail some 18cm long. It was hooked fair and square in the mouth by the 6/0 hook. It must have been one angry bream.
There appears to be no shortage of undersized snapper in our estuary systems so far this year but, while October used to be one of my favourite times of the year for inshore snapper, in the last couple of seasons they have not shown in the usual numbers. Targeting inshore snapper can be one of the most enjoyable forms of fishing. Not only are they an incredibly handsome fish, they fight hard and never come easy. My favourite way to catch them is to anchor over gravel beds close to the shore – and I mean in casting distance of the shore that has water up to 25m deep. Current is an essential ingredient for these fish, and I berley heavily with diced or cubed pilchard or fish pieces as well as chook pellets and frozen berley.
Snapper can be incredibly shy when it comes to line diameters. Many times in the past I've fished with 8kg line with no success then chucked out a 5kg or 6kg outfit and caught fish immediately. Nowadays I use 6kg or less in conjunction with 1-2/0 hooks and a minimal amount of lead to reach the bottom. The rig is simple – just thread the smallest ball sinker required to reach the bottom and then just tie in the hook. I like to pass the hook once through the bait so it looks like a long waving strip in the water. If there are pickers around you won't hook them on this bait set-up, but any keeper size red will woof the whole lot down in one go – and that's when the fun begins.
Dave Butfield and I are putting together an advanced fishing class for anglers who no longer want to be part of the 90% who catch 10% of the fish. If you already know how to thread on a sinker and tie on a hook, this is the class for you. The first class will focus on big jewfish and big kingfish – the two main targets of Sydney anglers – and we’ll go through everything from rigs, baits, how to catch your own bait, spots, tides and times. For further details you can contact Dave at his St Mary's bait and tackle shop on (02) 9623 9743 or myself on (02) 4385 6879. Numbers are limited so book now.
Dave also runs a weekly fishing show on Radio 2 1611am called Hooked on Fishing, which broadcasts on Saturday from 7-8am and Friday at 4:20pm. In the short time it’s been running it has already attracted a huge audience.
1) E.T. and Jake Joyes with a lovely Central Coast snapper.Reads: 548