THERE IS a certain excitement when November begins. This is the start of six prime fishing months in our area.
I seem to catch more jewfish, flathead, bream, kingfish, surface fish and sharks during this period and November is when it all starts. This is when the jewfish come on with a vengeance. Last year’s diary shows I caught jewfish on 80% of outings during November, as well as a stack of 4kg-plus flathead.
It seems like a switch gets thrown each year in early November and the fishing goes from so-so to red-hot in a matter of days, then stays that way. The same seems to apply to the whole length of the Central Coast.
There have been some excellent catches of jewfish from the Northern beaches of late and this will improve further over the coming months and the average size will jump substantially.
November and December also seem to be the time for those crocodile flathead at our river and estuary mouths. Some of those really large Squidgy Fish lures are sure to be the undoing of a number of those croc-sized flathead. If you chase these girls, keep in mind that these bigger fish seem to do most of the breeding for the flathead population. If you want to take some home to eat, the smaller fish seem to be far better eating. I always carry a good camera and lots of film on my boat so the anglers can enjoy landing the fish, posing for a few photos and we then enjoy the sight of the big fish swimming back to the depths.
It’s the same with the big jewies. I can completely understand wanting people to keep their first jewfish as it can be a culmination of maybe years of effort on their behalf. Likewise if you have a big family who like to eat fish, by all means keep one or two – it's your choice.
However, I have found my memories of fish I have caught and released are far sweeter than those of the fish I have killed. To catch a big fish of whatever species and then watch it swim away is good for the soul.
When I seriously looked at myself I found that a lot of why I kept big fish was ego-related. Today the only person I need to impress is myself and by releasing fish, I feel better about myself.
But if the fish freezer at home is empty I won't hesitate to keep a couple of fish to feed my family and friends. But there is a balance and I think every individual knows where this balance lies.
The warmer current moving down our coast brings with it striped tuna and increasing snapper numbers. The snapper seem to move inshore around this time, so if you're fishing wide and strike out on reddies it might pay to fish shallower reefs on your way home. If you're heading out in the early morning it can often pay to fish in close early and, as the sun rises, move deeper.
Flathead should be right along the 50-metre line and drifting with long strip baits should account for some good hauls. Even though November is not the best month for marlin, it is still well worth having a try for them as it often seems fish caught at the beginning and end of the season seem to be larger.
Likewise with the yellowfin tuna. Although they are far from common nowadays, not many people fish for them any more. Twenty years ago spots such as Texas off Norah Head, Terrigal Wide and Broken Bay Wide any weekend had a number of boats anchored, berleying furiously and with live baits deployed. Although numbers are nothing like they were then there still can be a few fish and unless people are fishing for them, how can we say they aren’t there.
I found trolling lures was not the most productive way of catching big yellowfin. Berley and live bait outfishes lures many times over on the big ’fin. October-November used to be prime time.
In our lakes and estuaries the influx of flathead and bream should warm up the action. As the water temperature rises the fish become more active and are more likely to nail lures. Some of the smaller Squidgies are absolutely dynamite on the flathead in our area and can often outfish bait.
The bream start to sniff around the oyster leases and this is the time to spin and bait them. When bait-fishing I like to get up-current of the oyster leases, get a fine berley trail going and then float baits back on 3kg line and minimal, if any, lead. This type of fishing can be so much fun as the bream have nowhere to go in the shallow water, only sideways, and many times a thumper bream has gone for 10-metre runs in the shallows.
This is the time to get serious about your fishing and if you want to get really serious, you might find the classes Dave Butfield and I are running will help you to fish more effectively. Participants walk away with a huge amount of knowledge on how to catch those huge jewies and kingies. The classes cover everything you need to know from tackle, rigs, bait-catching, boat location and the best ways to land your catch. Part of the class is devoted to catching both these fish on lures. Don’t worry if you live outside the Sydney area, Dave and Greg’s Fishing Roadshow will be coming to a town near you. If you live on the Central Coast or the Wollongong area, contact us about upcoming classes. Phone me on 0419 239 882 or Dave Butfield on 02 9623 9743.Reads: 566