It’s that time of year when everything happens and visitors in their droves are here to enjoy the delights our area has to offer.
Offshore, game fish are on the improve while the reefs, beaches and rocks are all fishing well. The best news, however, is in the estuaries, where the fish have moved throughout the systems, providing some fantastic fishing whether you wade, boat, prawn or just sit and admire. January is definitely the time to enjoy them.
The large tides at this time of year allow anglers access to the flats. Whether you wade or fish from a boat, a host of species are on offer and the ways you target them is just as varied.
I like to bait fish using a couple of different tactics, firstly by finding areas where fish have been active.
To do this you may need to visit the flats at low ride to read the signs. Obvious indications are imprints of flathead in the sand or mud – fish the adjacent deep water at low tide for flathead where they wait to move onto the flats with the rising tide.
Small cylindrical imprints are formed by whiting or bream feeding on worms or crustaceans and you can also look for ribbon grass being grazed on by blackfish.
If you’re in a boat, just cruise the flats at high tide using a good pair of polarised sunglasses to sight fish. Also look for white flashes over weed beds, which will be as this blackfish feeding on seagrass.
Once you have located fish, anchor your boat to work over an area. I like using nippers or worms here with ultralight mono line. Long casts are a must. If you can see the fish, they can see you in the clear water.
Fish will graze over these flats much like a flock of sheep so once the cast is made, just let the bait sit there for the fish to find.
You can also use berley in conjunction with this method to cover more options. Striped tuna is the best for bait and berley but you need reasonable flow in the tide for it to be successful.
Other methods, including lures, will also work well not over the flats and throughout the whole estuary.
Its also prawning time and with the dark around January 10, Wallaga Lake is the hot spot to scoop up some prawns on the falling tide.
Out on the ocean there are game fish in numbers with the marlin getting better by the day. Lure fishing is the way to go so you can cover more water to find where the beakies are concentrated.
Once they are found you may wish to revert to bait but by sticking to lures you will have a better chance of mixing the catch with some of the nice yellowfin tuna that are still in the area.
January is also notorious for large blue marlin that patrol the canyon areas and a good lure pattern may prove irresistible. Smaller game species like albacore, striped tuna and mahi mahi are providing some light-tackle action. Kingfish are in good numbers around Montague Island.
Reef and bottom fishing is good just about everywhere. Out from Tilba, The Step is producing plenty of sand flathead with the odd tiger and gummy shark. On the edges of the Four Mile, Six Mile and Twelve Mile reefs, tiger flathead are prolific with snapper, mowies and nannygai close to the reefs.
Goalen Head is the pick of the areas for bottom fishing. You can fish in close or venture out wider over this complex reef system that runs far to sea. It has good reef fishing and attracts plenty of game fish.
Visiting anglers love beach fishing at this time of year and lots of salmon are being taken on most beaches that have a half-decent gutter. Tailor and the odd gummy shark have been caught at night.
Beach worms are producing some excellent bags of bream, whiting and mullet in the shallower gutters, especially on the rising tides.Reads: 465