Winter has to be my favourite time of year on the Tweed. The options that are available to the angler are top notch. There are not many places that you can run out the river mouth to chase a few snapper or kingfish and then once the sun is well and truly up head back up the river for a few bream or flathead.
If you are still keen to catch a few more fish after that, then another bit of a run to the upper reaches of the river can put you in with a chance of tangling with a few wild bass. Amazingly, if the weather is on your side, all of this can be done out of the same boat.
The Tweed really is a special place and during the winter months the weather generally allows us to get out there a lot more than during the summer months. Obviously the temperatures are a bit on the cool side but that just lets you know you are alive. A bass smashing a surface lure or a snapper grabbing a float line soon puts the feeling back in your fingers.
It is quite common to head out of the Tweed bar to fish the inshore reefs and find several tinnies under four metres out there mixing it up with the bigger boats. Many of these guys have been doing it for a number of years and know their boat’s limitations. Always remember to check the weather and be sure of your boat’s capabilities before taking a chance offshore. Ensure your boat has the required safety equipment and some form of auxiliary power. Remember that the risk is never worth a few fish. In saying this, though, the sea can often be calmer than the river on some balmy winter days.
Bream and blackfish will be the two main target species during July, with tailor bringing up the rear. Most of the rock walls and similar structure around the lower reaches of the river will hold good numbers of these fish. The tailor can be good fun at times and will often be seen busting into schools of baitfish. We actually had a scenario where a school of baitfish tried to take refuge under the boat from a school of tailor. The resulting fishing session was pretty awesome to say the least. As we drifted up the river the tailor and bait stayed with the boat and we caught them cast after cast. Unfortunately having carpets in one’s boat when doing this type of fishing is not a good idea, with each tailor spitting out a heap of small baitfish every time you tried to take the hooks out.
A good trick to keep in mind when catching tailor is to replace the plastics with a jighead that has sparsely tied bucktail or some other form of fly tying material on it. This is a lot more durable than plastic and works out heaps cheaper, as tailor can often take the tail off your plastic with one bite.
Allow the jighead to sink down in the water column after casting and then hop it back to the boat or bank with a fairly fast erratic action to simulate a fleeing baitfish.
The upper reaches of the river will hold fairly good numbers of wild bass and although they can be hard to locate at times, they are worth the effort when they smash your lure. Try to remember that these fish are not around in large numbers so try to handle them with care and release them to fight another day.
Snapper will be the go-to species over the winter months with pearl perch, tusk fish, samson fish and kingies also being on the cards. Jigging the deeper reefs with 300g Chaos or Daiwa Sacrifice jigs is a great way to get your arms stretched, not to mention getting the blood flowing.
I had forgotten how strenuous this type of fishing was as targeting snapper on plastics has been the priority the last few seasons. Ben Godfrey and myself went out on a recent jigging trip fishing out of my Lewis Typhoon and did a fair few miles working the deeper reefs.
By mid morning we were absolutely knackered and had heaps of fun paying each other out every time a fish hammered the jig. Both of us were so unfit that by the time we got the hit we were almost too tired to get the fish in. We caught numerous kingfish and amberjack and although we were knackered couldn’t stop ourselves having one more drop each time the other person hooked up. Jigging can be great fun and with more people fishing the inshore reefs the deeper water seems to be getting a bit of a break.Reads: 891