The cold weather has certainly hit with a vengeance, and I must admit I've been a bit of a sook in recent weeks and have avoided any early start. You don't always need to be on the water at sparrow fluff to catch fish – well that's what I tell myself when laying in a warm bed on those cold mornings.
There is actually some truth in that statement. A lot of species don't just feed at dawn or very early in the morning. For instance snapper, which many people believe you need to be on the water at sunrise to catch, usually feed on tide changes rather than just on first or last light. Looking back through my digital photos of the past 12 months snapper catches, I note that most of the photos were taken between 8am and 10am and only a few shots of snapper taken at 5am and 6am.
The afternoon bite and tide change is also very good for reds so keep this in mind if you don't like getting up early during winter. Other species like flathead, blackfish, drummer, tuna, marlin, and many more, will feed at any time of the day. Quite often there's no need to be on the water as the sun comes up unless you just like being out there to watch the sunrise. It may be considered the best time of the day but it's not always easy to get motivated in winter.
One species that you do need to be early for is kingfish at The Banks. That early morning bite can be something special and it's one of the things I don't mind getting up early for. Travelling out in the dark and arriving at very first light to see Ajax already there and catching kings is quite an experience. Dropping a jig down and getting it slammed on the descent by a 15kg king is even better!
The winter kings at The Banks can be a bit fickle at times but when they're around it's probably some of the best jigging action to be had on the south coast. You'll get them on weighted or down rigged livebaits but that's a bit fiddly on those cold mornings compared to jigging.
The advantage of jigging is that you don’t have to stop to catch livebaits on the way out and jigging is a lot quicker and simpler than fishing livies. If there's any current running (and the fishing is much better if it is) then you can be very mobile by jigging. Just motor back to where the fish are on the sounder and drop the jigs down to the fish. Doing that isn't always as easy with live baits, which need to be kept alive while moving or relocating.
The kings at The Banks are pretty cluey and grow big so don't muck around with light tackle. We normally fish 65lb or 80lb Techneed braid over Stella 10,000 or Trinidad 40N reels with 200g or 250g jigs. Jigging for 10-15kg kings is an absolute hoot with this tackle and the hits on the way up are absolutely awesome.
With any luck there should be a few yellowfin and albacore out wide, so keep your ears open if you do a bit of gamefishing. The past few seasons have seen some reasonable yellowfin action and there were some sighted and caught in late March and early April. One fish taken during the Shellharbour Open went 69kg and the guys on X Rated dropped a 50kg fish during the Shoalhaven Open a few weeks earlier.
There's also been a heap of striped tuna out wide and quite a bit of bait moving about, so this year may be a repeat of 2006 with any luck.
2006 will probably go down in recent history as one of the better yellowfin seasons. There were a lot of 20-30kg fish about. We had a bit of success cubing out wide, but we also got quite a few smaller yellowfin and albacore by trolling Rapala X Rap 30's and bibless minnows on 8-10kg tackle.
Despite usually seeing fish working on top, the sub surface lures were much more productive than skirted trolling lures. Lumo green or blue mackerel patterns seemed to work best. We normally run our lures on 3m of 150lb Momoi and haven't had any problems with yellowfin using this set up.
With the cooler water you may also find a few mako sharks hanging around. Shark fishing isn't everyone's cup of tea but it can be very exciting. And if big fish turn you on there's no better way to find them than getting a berley trail going out along the shelf line.
After last springs fun on makos we'll be out doing a bit this autumn. Our best fish last year was a 170kg mako on 15kg tackle, so we'll be aiming to better that to 200kg, or a 150kg on 10kg tackle.
A lot of people tell you they won't fish for sharks because they don't fight or it's boring but that's not the case at all. Having a 150-200kg mako cruise up your berley trail and chew on the back of the boat before eating a bait and running several 100m whilst performing cartwheels out of the water has to be seen to be believed. Tracing that fish and gaffing it before it goes berserk at the side of the boat is also an adrenalin rush to say the least!
On a tamer side of things there should be a few good bream getting about at the moment. Try the Shoalhaven River down near the entrance with fresh bait at night, or off the rocks in suitable wash with a bit of berley and fresh royal red prawns.
You'll probably find a few drummer doing this also so don't fish too light. There should also be a few good blackfish to be had from the rocks for the next month or so before they go quiet until October or November.
If land-based gamefishing (LBG) is your thing then consider chasing a winter king from the rocks around Currarong or inside Jervis Bay. We've seen and caught some thumpers in under the cliffs and around The Tubes in June.
There's still time to get a decent jewie from the local beaches, so if you don't mind the cold nights then get out there and fish the run up tide in the evenings.
There should be a few tailor around in the early morning or late arvo and these are easy to catch with a metal lure or pilchard on a 3 hook rig. You can fish the smaller ones live into a gutter or fillet them down and fish a strip bait on a 2 hook rig. Jewfish just can't resist a fresh tailor fillet.
If you can't drag yourself out of bed before 9 o'clock on a weekend think about taking the family out squid fishing in Jervis Bay. Pack a bit of food and a couple of threadline sticks with light gel spun line. You'll have a ball, get some brownie points and bring home a feed of calamari. Sweet as!Reads: 817