A little fire starts to flicker in souls of estuary lure-casters this month because the big post-spawning yellowfin bream will be gathering their numbers outside the estuary mouths along the South Coast.
Almost like clockwork, the big blue-nosed bream will soon flood the lower sections of the estuaries, invading the previously unattended oyster racks, pontoons, shallow oyster rocks and deeper, current-filled rock walls.
The Clyde River in particular can be a desert one week and then virtually overnight it turns into a vibrant scene of big, flashing chrome flanks among the racks. It’s enough to get any lure-caster twitching with excitement.
If you time their arrival, the action can be furious as these fish return from the ocean hungry and eager to bite most offerings. However, the bream quickly wise up to pressure and progressively become harder to tempt as their numbers disperse throughout the system.
Some years they show early in the month and other years see them arrive much later.
Shore-based lure casting around the rocks adjacent to estuary mouths can be a good option for locating bream and flathead because these areas can often be short-term holding stations before the fish gather and then make their final push into the estuary.
Rodney Stokman and Luke Baranowski have been having great succuss in these areas. Their secret weapon has been a shallow-diving Slavko Bug, which is pretty hard to get hold of these days but, fortunately for Luke, he purchased about 100 of them a few months back so he’s set for life with a personal favourite.
Big flathead have been captured around the breakwall recently with Keith Brooks’ 5.5kg fish and another flathead of 6.5kg being the standouts.
Snapper fishing is still going off leading up to this report.
From the rocks the action has been sporadic but still worthwhile. Dean Heycox pinned a 6kg fish first cast on a recent rough Saturday morning. Murray Cooper lost a good red, also hooked first cast, to a seal when he was fishing an afternoon tide change.
A pod of dolphins then arrived and chased the seal away, leaving the still kicking snapper flapping a short distance away, which understandably really ticked him off.
Big blue groper have also been pinching snapper baits, Dean released one around 8kg and I also put one back that was closer to 9kg.
That blue really gave me some stick. The opening run had the hallmark of a big snapper run, tearing off to the horizon over the gravel beds. But the fish lacked any trademark bumping up the line so it was correctly called for a groper early in the fight.
When the fish reached the rocks it did its best to stick its head into every bommie it could, then it charged up a rock gutter, sulking down deep.
A few tense minutes later the thug was finally washed out for a few happy snaps. I have found that groper captured on long, drawn-out fights need to be revived in a good clean rock pool to ensure a healthy release. This fellow benefited greatly from spending an hour in a low, wave-washed pool prior to release.
Offshore, reds to 4kg have continued to bite freely but the big ones have been winning most battles. Fresh baits and plastics have been producing equally good results.
If you are really keen to give snapper on plastics a go then go to sea with no bait on board. That way you have no choice but to work at it and crack a pattern. Plastics fished down a berley trail aren’t the same thing in my opinion.
Phil Petridis has succumbed to the snapper-on-plastics bug and traded his estuary aluminium rig for a new 4.55 Poly Craft Front Runner. The past three months of snapper action was driving him mad so now he can finally get in on the action, too.
Kingfish have made an early showing off Durras with fish to 4kg common in 50 metres or deeper.
Look for a showing of striped tuna around this depth later in the month and have a light spin rod ready with a small metal attached. Stripies on spin tackle are awesome fun, taking long, blistering runs with a never-say-die attitude. And they make for great bait.
Good Winter rains should hopefully be a harbinger to a great bass season. The extensive rains at the right time of the year should have allowed the bass an easy passage to and from the salt at breeding season.
This type of rain hasn’t occurred at the perfect time for many years so hopefully the bass have bred well.
It’s not too soon to start peppering the freshwater reaches, especially when those warmer days and a rising barometer start to dominate and the warm nights will quickly follow.
Big flathead have been active in the lower Clyde recently. Rod Stokman shows off a shore-based flathead taken around some shallow rocks outside the entrance.
Luke Baranowski with a fine yellowfin bream that crunched his favourite Slavko Bug.
Phil Petridis with his first snapper on plastic – no doubt the start of an unhealthy addiction!Reads: 822