There are numerous angling options worth considering this month. A variety of species can be caught off the rocks, along the beaches, on the blue water and inside our estuaries, but consistency will be the main problem.
At this time of year the weather, swell and ocean currents can be quite favourable one week and lousy the next, so although the fish are there, it can be a bit hard to make sure you’re on the water at the right time.
On top of that, our waters have a lot more fishing boats, water skiers and the like out there making a bit more noise – which most fish don’t like very much.
One of the keys to catching fish through the holiday period is to be on the water very early or later at night, when noise and crowds are minimal.
Another idea is to try more secluded spots, perhaps a reef, beach or creek that you haven’t fished before. You never know until you have a go.
Rock fishing can be one of the more rewarding options in January.
Bonito and kingfish always get the adrenalin going if you’re lucky enough to get into a good patch of either species.
High-speed spinning with a quality outfit like a sturdy 3m rod and fast overhead or threadline reel is the way to get into the bonnies. Spooled up with 8kg braid or mono and a 2m length of 12kg to 15kg mono leader, this will deal with any bonito encountered off the rocks.
Although these fish respond to a wide variety of lures, the best are still the solid metal lures like Surecatch Knights, half-by-quarters and Lazers.
Just cast out, allow the lure to sink a bit and then start cranking it in as fast as possible.
If you know the fish are there but they’re proving difficult to fool, try giving the rod a few swift jigs and allow the lure to pause here and there along the way.
This sort of erratic retrieve technique tends to get the bonito a bit more excited and keener to hit a lure.
Kingfish will also get in on the act when high-speed spinning, but if you want to specifically target them I suggest catching some fresh squid around the rocks first. There’s no doubt that live or freshly caught calamari squid are the No 1 inshore kingfish bait.
However, if you can’t get a hold of squid, other reasonable baits are live yakkas, live slimy mackerel, live pike or live garfish. Whole dead garfish pinned to a set of ganged hooks are also quite effective.
Top rock spots for the kings and bonnies are Winney Bay, South Avoca, below the Terrigal Skillion, Wybung Head and Snapper Point.
Needles to say, these spots can also be dangerous if the seas are up, so take care.
Bream, tailor, salmon, blackfish and drummer are other rock fishing options in January, but exactly which species is active or not depends largely on the ocean currents.
Cold water equals difficult fishing with drummer, salmon or blackfish the more logical targets. Warm water means bream, kingfish or bonito.
Offshore fishing is closely related to rock fishing, as it also relies heavily on ocean currents to deliver good action.
The problem with January is that the strong north-easterly winds can make the inshore water turn cold. After a day or two of southerly or south easterly winds, the sea temperature can climb back up to around 21° to 23°.
Each season is different so it’s not easy to predict.
Hopefully though, the kings and bonito will be plentiful closer in and the odd marlin may appear out wide. Baits bounced on the bottom may connect with snapper, flathead, morwong and maybe a trag or jewfish.
Beach fishing hasn’t been too bad over the past two or three months, so hopefully that trend will continue.
Tailor and whiting should be the most common fish patrolling the gutters, with bream, jewfish and salmon also on the cards.
Again, ocean currents can affect the fishing, so if you turn up and feel freezing water around your feet then don’t expect to catch much. If it’s nice and comfy, though, the fish should be there.
Brisbane Water will be worth a shot for bream, flathead and whiting.
Freshly gathered pink nippers, bloodworms, peeled or live prawns or strips of fresh tailor, garfish or mullet will bring these fish undone.
Jewfish are another option, especially at night. In this case use live mullet, live tailor or live trumpeter and, of course, freshly caught squid.
As usual, The Rip Bridge is the pick of the spots for jewies but any deeper holes or channels around Woy Woy, Saratoga and Gosford are worth trying.
Around Tuggerah Lakes, there should be enough bream and flathead to keep us busy but don’t expect many big fish.
Blue swimmer crabs and prawns are also worth trying for this month. Let’s just hope the weather and seas are kind to us.Reads: 1415