Tackle of choice for me in between rain squalls has been a chainsaw and block-splitter but chasing fish, rather than firewood, is what I need to do despite the cold. And what better way to get some warmth back into the body than a spot of drummer fishing off the rocks?
These days I prefer not to berley with bread but just with a sparse trail of cunjevoi gut and maybe a few prawn heads.
Many of my favourite spots do not take kindly to bread, which tends to attract hordes of sweep and other undesirables.
It takes a bit longer with the more subtle berley to get the pigs fired up but when they do gather, it’s usually a hook-up a cast.
Without doubt, the best time to be on the water is after a big rough, when the water is calming down but still really dirty. That’s especially so if there’s a tide change early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Low tide is usually the best but high certainly isn’t a write-off.
Cunjevoi is my preferred bait and a bit of rock salt will toughen it up to keep it on the hook for longer.
I once fished beside a guy who added fresh garlic and stinky parmesan cheese to his salted cunje and he easily outfished me when I was using freshly-cut stuff. I am still yet to try it but I might have to give it a go this Winter.
I like to stick to the fish around 1.5kg for the table where possible and let the big ones go.
Fish around 3kg can be tough in the pan at times so they are better off being released so they can continue to populate the washes with more recruits.
Speaking of cheese, my boss, Lyle Farrar, has been getting stuck into the bream this Winter off the smaller beaches with vintage cheese as his bait of choice, much to the amazement of many onlookers.
The effectiveness of cheese as bait wouldn’t come as a surprise to any inland angler but to most saltwater fishos it is a very foreign concept.
Lyle has also been breaming at night with two rods set, one with cheese and the other with striped tuna. It will be interesting to see the developments on that experiment.
The coastal run of bream is really hitting its straps of late with anglers scoring five or six fish over 40cm a session, as well as the odd fish finding freedom among the rocks.
Snapper, too, will be all go this month in the shallows and off the rocks and the recent flogging the coast has copped from big seas and heavy rain will be a real boon for anglers seeking snapper.
When the water gets really dirty it makes life pretty difficult when using soft plastics so it might be prudent to use baits like striped tuna or slimy mackerel until the water begins to clear.
The same goes for baits off the rocks. Squid and octopus would be better replaced with the aforementioned oily flesh baits to make it easier for the reds to home in on your offering.
In the Clyde River there have been some unsubstantiated rumours of a few jewfish to 37kg being captured from the breakwall and from the bridge. With the recent action the river has been producing, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could indeed be true but as yet no photos have surfaced.
Off the beaches the jewfish action has been pretty slow despite hordes of bream, salmon, tailor and sharks in residence. The occasional schoolie of 6kg is all that I have heard of but hopefully the recent stir up will change this.
While surfing at Moruya breakwall I saw huge schools of small mullet milling beside the wall, just behind the breakers.
Anglers were getting into some solid salmon and tailor by casting ganged pilchards to the fringe of the school. However, nobody was bothering to cast lures, which I reckon would have accounted for many more hook-ups.
The fish being landed looked to be all 2kg-plus – great fun for the whole family. It was interesting to note that the water was still surprisingly warm for this time of year.
With that last bit of lingering warmth in the ocean, some kingfish have still been encountered.
It has been a really frustrating season of undersized fish dominating. We can’t keep saying it is going to be good for the next few years because no doubt it will most likely still be the same just-undersize rats of the past three or four seasons.
All the bigger fish seem to gravitate towards Sydney, Jervis Bay and Eden each season and the few tag returns I have had have indicated this.
For those who cannot embrace the Winter mainstay angling and still want a taste of pelagic activity, it is a fantastic time to hit the continental shelf in search of tuna.
Yellowfin, albacore, stripies, bluefin and even big-eye tuna are all a possibility this month.
We plan to do plenty of cubing trips when the weather looks good and the abundance of small slimy mackerel and yellowtail schools will reduce the need to fork out excess dollars for overpriced pilchards.
But I reckon you still want some pilchard content in your trail because the smell and oil factors are invaluable.
You really need a good weather forecast to go cubing in comfort, otherwise I would rather troll all day with lures like Rapala X-Raps and Bluewater Squidgies or mid-sized jet head skirts.Reads: 3036