The lead-up to Winter doesn’t have to be a time when anglers do into hibernation. There are still a lot of options open.
The big news is the bream are sure to be firing as they make their annual beach run. Along with the start of the mullet run, this is a great time to be out chasing fish on the beaches.
Beach fishing for many is either a strenuous hike with a backpack and a bundle of rods or a 4WD trip that gets you straight to the best gutters and deep holes.
Although most people prefer the second option, a bit of exercise doesn’t hurt us once in a while.
The bream that move along the coast at this time of year can be in thick schools or in smaller pods that move through an area within a few weeks.
The spawning females, which are usually the biggest, feast up for a while, fattening themselves for the long haul up the coast. Most will leave estuaries at night, then move out around the headlands and along the beaches.
This is where they become available to us fishos and, unfortunately, to the beach haulers as well.
I firmly believe there is a pattern to the migration. In March the oysters are put back in the water after drying and this is when larger bream seem to be taken – not many, but really big ones.
Then through April, as the currents turn and head north again, larger schools of medium to large bream are there and usually in bigger numbers.
Then this month the majority of schools are large, with only a certain number of really big bream in them. A kilo seems to be the average, with a mere smattering of really big fellows.
Worms, pipis, prawns, ghost crabs, half-pilchards and mullet gut are the best baits.
Mullet gut through Winter is extremely good because the mullet also run this month and matching the hatch is always a great start.
Mullet gut is the messiest stuff you can toy with, but an old rag hanging from your back pocket can help clean up your hands enough not to cover reels and rods with the smelly mess.
The mullet are harder to pinpoint than the bream, but you can be sure they’re running when big prime movers starting dropping off fridge-freezer trailers near beaches such as Redhead and Stockton and net boats are lying on the sand near used fireplaces.
Jewfish, sharks and a number of other predators exist in good numbers when the mullet are running.
I have never been able to catch a mullet on the beach, even when the water was black with them. On a rod and reel it’s not an easy task.
A net can wipe out the entire school in one drop but if the mullet are around, well the fishing for other species will be usually good also.
Luderick are a favourite at this time of year and as the water cools, droves of them move along the coast, filling the bays, rivers and estuaries.
Weed is easy to get nearly anywhere now on the Hunter Coast. It grows prolifically around drains and on the rocks.
Watching a float stem isn’t something I can do all the time but when the luderick are thick, they sure break up the boredom of not catching anything at all. They come thick and fast and they start this month.
Tailor are another option and although at the time of writing some really big fellows have been taken in our area, the massive schools we usually see haven’t fronted up. Hopefully by the time you read this things have changed for the better.
Beach and rock fishing for tailor can be as fast an action sport as you can get when they are around in big schools. Throwing lures and hooking up every cast is a really satisfying way to spend an afternoon.
Remember, tailor are lovely fresh on a barbecue but frozen, mushy tailor doesn’t serve well. So take only enough to eat fresh and don’t be greedy, no matter how many you catch.
It is a shame to say it but on a few journeys lately a number of anglers I have bumped into are starting to keep their bag limits.
There is nothing wrong with this and I lean towards doing it with certain species that I love to eat, but the facts are the price of meat and the economic panic we are being prepared for will take a real toll on the resources of fishing sooner or later.
I am seeing more fish than ever being kept lately, even by diehard catch-and-release anglers. I hope it’s a passing trend.
So this month I would be looking along beaches for gutters and holes, targeting bream at night and tossing lures for tailor and salmon for some sport before sunset.
You can usually get the biggest landlubbers out in a boat this month with the 90% chance of seeing a whale or two. And the other promise you can make them is the water and wind are usually calm.
If nothing else, toss out a chrome lure or two and troll the headlands and rock walls for the tailor.Reads: 1604