The heart of Winter, July holds some of the best fishing for those willing to brave the elements.
The beaches will hold some sensational fish with bream and tailor in plague proportions making those cold early starts worthwhile.
Best beaches this month will be Lighthouse at Port Macquarie and then all the way south to Lake Cathie, along with Dunbogan Beach on the southern side of Laurieton.
The North Shore has even easier access, with the new ferry accommodating 25 vehicles and a lot faster than the old one.
If you’re looking for bream then salted mullet or bonito fillets will be the best baits while tailor love pilchards or any flashy metal lure that will reach them. If the mullet are still running, the odd mulloway will be on offer with worms being the best bait for good school fish.
Those hopping the rocks will do well at first light when the tailor are likely to come on. Cast long with whole ganged pilchards and work a fast retrieve and if this doesn’t yield results, then slow the retrieve until the fish come on the bite.
Once you’ve landed a fish or two, speed up the retrieve and see if you can’t excite them into more action to prolong the bite.
Bream will also be worthy prey from the rocks with cunjevoi my favoured bait this time of year because of its availability, zero cost and it holds well on the hook against the pickers.
Luderick and drummer will also be on the cards so if you’re fishing for luderick and get busted up, get out the heavy gear and do some pig wrestling. A bread berley with lightly weighted baits of cunjevoi and pilchard pieces will be best.
A mate was recently told me his theory on drummer – if you go easy on them, they go easy on you. But every time I’ve gone easy on a drummer it’s easily got back to its hidey-hole.
Offshore action has been red-hot. Recently at the cleaning table I saw the catch from three boats which all had their limit of fish from 3kg to 4kg fishing plastics in 10m of water.
Flathead have been in plague proportions offshore with reports of boats filling their limits. Tuna have also been hanging around with some reported off Laurieton. If conditions stay fair and the leatherjackets don’t take over, some good bottom fishing should be on the cards.
The lower reaches of our estuaries will be very popular this month with luderick numbers already rising. The breakwalls on the southern sides of the Camden Haven and Hastings rivers will be good starting points for land-based anglers and nearby weed beds for boat anglers.
In recent years I’ve caught luderick on lures occasionally but never more than one in a session. On a recent trip my mate and I caught one each within 10 minutes in the same area on hard minnow lures.
Bream will be working the walls and lower reaches. With clear water likely, those using bait after dark will do best.
Lure tossers will need to fish light, longer leaders and recently I’ve been fishing 3lb fluorocarbon all the way through on a light drag for some heart-wrenching battles. You lose some gear when you get snagged or bitten off but patience and perseverance will get you double the number of hook-ups and if you stay calm, more fish will make it to the boat.
Best lures this month will be soft plastics rigged as light as the conditions allow and any of the new small lipless crankbaits. Lately I’ve had good success on the Bassday Kangoku Vib, the Luckycraft Bevy Vibe and Paul Kneller’s Shake & Bake. Just get them close to the walls and drift them down like soft plastics.
When chasing flathead this month, don’t mess with light lines and work the flats with good-sized lures or live poddy mullet. Big flathead will be warming themselves on the flats looking for an easy feed.
This month we also tend to get a lot of fish just legal or below so make sure you measure the smaller ones and take only what you need, not your limit. My mate Paul Burke has been putting in the time to collect live baits and has been rewarded with some nice fish.Reads: 825