Many people stop fishing during the cooler months as they think fish disappear to warmer waters. This is partially true, as most of the bread and butter species tend to leave our southern estuaries. What a lot of people don’t realise is that hard-fighting fish like salmon, tailor and trevally enter our estuaries during these cold periods, often in huge numbers.
We started chasing these fish mid-way through July at McLoughlins Beach. In the first week we caught over 100 salmon, all released, on Raider and Lazer lures. Synthetic flies like Polar Fibre and Kinky Fibre Minnows also worked well. The majority of the fish were 30-35cm, however, we did land quite a few salmon over 2kg. These fish are great sport on light gear and a 2kg+ salmon on 2kg line is a real handful! Trevally were also getting in on the action, eating metal lures.
These fish were scattered from the McLoughlins Entrance and right up the Shoal Channel to the Snapper Hole, however, the majority of the fish were just inside the entrance – and there are still a few about. Most of the big fish have been caught at the end of the run-out and the start of the run-in tides. The Manns Beach area, particularly the entrance, is also renowned for big winter salmon, however, we have managed only a few smaller salmon around 35cm.
Heavy rain in the area at the time of writing saw the McLoughlins and Manns Beach area very dirty and weedy, which made trolling very difficult. In this situation, drifting and jigging metal slugs up from the bottom with short, sharp rod lifts works well. Salmon, tailor, pike and trevally all fall for this.
When the water was at its dirtiest recently, berlying and baitfishing was the only option, and the Shoal Channel, around Jack’s Creek, was producing the goods. Flathead about 40-45c, and a few tailor top 43cm were being taken on bluebait and pipis. Best rigs to use are a paternoster rig or a running sinker rig. I prefer small sinkers, too, as you can cast upcurrent and let your rig drift down naturally. If the bait is anchored to the bottom with a big sinker, you’re out of contention.
As cold and wet as it was, this past winter is a great sign for things to come. The flathead should get thicker and whiting and garfish should soon start to show. Then there’s the offshore action! It looks like it’s going to be a bumper season!
For the latest fishing information, contact Allways Angling, (03) 5174 8544.
Steve Wright with a 2kg+ Australian salmon caught on Raider lure at McLoughlins Beach.Reads: 507