Winter – ya gotta love it!
  |  First Published: May 2009

The onset of cooler conditions brings us to a change of fishing opportunities that, I have to admit, I love.

The Winter run of migrating and spawning species like bream and blackfish helps to increase the attraction of the ocean rocks throughout the colder months.

The rock blackfish, or pigs, will also become easier to find and catch as they scavenge the channels and holes along the broken coastal fringes and headlands.

There should be a slight decrease in the numbers of toads and pest species like butterfish that always seem to find baits and maul them as they sink.

Baits like yabbies may not be the first choice of many anglers for rock or beach fishing but they are enormously effective.

After dark, they are brilliant baits for the blackfish that swarm with the surging waves to graze the red and green weed from rocks that are accessible for them only on the high tide and in the dark.

The pigs will get involved, too, often snatching a yabby and powering off under a ledge.

Early morning and late afternoon, the deeper washes and pockets of deep water will hold bream of various sizes and as the Winter really sets in, the bream will get bigger as the main body of fish move out of the estuary and river mouths.

Find the right water and you will catch a fish on every bait.

The way the seasons have been playing out over the past few months, the run of bream might be a bit later this year, as were the bonito and longtail tuna seasons.

Strips of mullet flesh, prawns and yabbies are all top baits for bream and the by-catch includes all the abovementioned, too.

Reports of tailor have been patchy, like the fish, but searching the beaches early morning should show some results.

The same goes for the rock washes. Some of the headlands, like the southern end of Blueys Beach, will often hold schools of tailor and salmon and spinning from Bennetts Head is always worthwhile.

Bonito my be a chance but their late season run is all but at an end. The bigger longtails are few and far between but LBG anglers know the drill of long days with perhaps only a chance or two.


The seawalls are holding the interest of the travelling bream and blackfish as they head out to the coastal fringe.

Casting lightly-weighted baits up-current and letting them drift and sink along the wall will produce better results than trying to anchor a bait in the channel with sinker the size of half a brick.

The deep channel along the front of the Fish Co-op has a berley trail each time the trawlers pull up. The big bream turn up and wait for drifting morsels, much as they do when the oyster punts start their winch motors.

Tailor will push into the lake and some big models are not uncommon in the channels and deeper sections. The Step and Hell’s Gate are good spots to look as the baitfish seem to gather near the eddies and turbulent water.

There are good leatherjackets along the front of Godwin Island and over any of the lake’s vast weed areas.

In a while, luderick will be all over the weed and lease pylons, too, with the early-spawned fish coming back into the lake to forage.

The same with the bream though, like bass, not all the bream make the spawning run and there are still plenty haunting the oyster leases and other structure in the lake.

The flatties will be fewer in number in the lower section of the lake due to the redistribution of their numbers after their Summer spawning.

The mouths of the rivers, like the Coolongolook, will have legal fish that can be stirred up with a live bait or a lure bounced along the bottom.

The fish will be black and even their normally white bellies take on tinges of grey.

There could be the odd blue swimmer crab still wandering the weed looking for a feed but if you go setting crab pots or witches’ hats, don’t expect too many crabs this time of year onwards.

The flooding freshwater has done little in the short term for the fishing but we will see the benefits along the coast and in the estuary soon. All in all, it’s a great month to be mobile and looking for a rocky shoreline fish.

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