It seems a bit strange, but after the very dismal fishing right through Autumn most anglers on the Mid North Coast are looking forward to Winter!
Autumn is traditionally our period of very little wind, stable weather and some great offshore and estuary fishing. But this year, thanks to the rain, it was basically a write-off, with endless floodwater spewing from the rivers and creeks shutting down many inshore fish.
So, with the rains behind us, anglers are looking forward to a productive Winter.
This time of year, while a little cool for the early starts, is often very good for a range of species.
There’s usually a good run of bream, blackfish and tailor along the local beaches and headlands. Following the bream and choppers are usually a few mulloway, so it’s well worth putting in a little effort around dawn and dusk.
Many of these travelling bream, blackfish and tailor end up in the local rivers, with great catches of all three species on offer for those looking for them.
A lot of those seeking a few bream hit the rocks walls, casting out lightly weighted flesh baits or crabs and walking slowly along with the tide. This is a great way to find some nice bream, with dawn or dark usually producing the better quality class of fish.
If you’re really keen, try after dark. You tend to see far fewer smaller fish once the sun sets, usually leaving you with the top class of bream and no pickers to destroy your baits.
Those keener on flicking lures will get good results working the tidal walls close to the river mouth with soft plastics or blades.
You generally have to get your offering down deep to get among the fish, though at times the bream can be found hugging the first 2m of water.
This style of fishing is best done from a boat, preferably one sporting an electric motor to help control the drift.
Bream luring during the cooler months is all about fishing the tides and getting the lures nice and deep.
The run of blackfish tends to draw anglers out of the woodwork.
It’s funny really, because most of the crew chasing them only seem to grab a rod once the blackfish start to run. For the other eight months of the year you never see them.
While very popular with the older crew, blackfish are great fun and provide a very worthy challenge for anyone who cares to target them.
I have mates who chase only blackfish, and these guys are quite young and have caught most things with fins in the past.
This itself speaks volumes for the appeal these feisty little fish have on even seasoned anglers.
While tailor are recognised as more beach-and-headland species, it may surprise some anglers the number of quality fish that inhabit the river systems.
If there are good schools of bait in the river (whitebait usually lures them in), it’s possible to find good packs of tailor working them over.
There are a few different ways to target them, though casting medium-sized metal lures across the bait schools is pretty effective.
For the more adventurous, small to medium-sized poppers work well at times. Usually the tailor are more active on the run in tide and, again, late afternoon and early morning are the hot times.
With all the action in the river, it’s little wonder mulloway tend to become more active.
Cool-weather mulloway usually run larger on average than those during Summer. My guess is this is simply a reflection of bait size; big bait usually means big fish and bream, blackfish and tailor are tasty snacks for mulloway over 10kg.
Those keen on ocean fishing will find snapper numbers on the increase, with a slow but steady movement of fish to the inshore reefs as Winter marches on.
Kingfish will also start to increase in size and numbers and, like the snapper, will peak as we move towards Spring.
For those bombing the deeper reefs, pearl perch numbers should also increase.
Whilst most folks have pretty well written off Autumn for this year, there is some hope of a late run of Spanish mackerel and cobia. Both species traditionally show up here in late May, so if the water has a chance to clear a little we may get a final shot at some pelagics before it’s back to chasing the cool water species.Reads: 1935