The weather may have cooled right down but the fishing should still be pretty good this month, with plenty on offer for the angler willing to brave the elements.
Foremost on many anglers’ minds will undoubtedly be snapper, and with good reason – the fish are on fire at present.
The cuttlefish have moved inshore to breed and the snapper are always close by, just waiting for a pod of dolphins to annihilate any stray cephalopod that they come across.
Dolphins generally eat only the cuttlefish’s head, leaving the body to float to the surface at the mercy of sharks, albatrosses and, of course, snapper.
Basically at this time of year if you are in a boat then the simplest way to get into a hot snapper bite is to find a cuttlefish ‘floater’ and quietly approach it with baits or soft plastics at the ready.
Use of an electric motor or making the most of the prevailing wind by cutting the engine early and allowing the boat to quietly drift within range will always be worth the extra effort.
Lightly weighted rigs are the go here as the snapper will be from mid-water right up to the surface so there is no need to get the bait or lure on the bottom.
Off the rocks, you can get lucky if the dolphins nail a cuttlefish within casting range and even if they don’t, it is always worth casting a bait right behind their path because snapper big and small will follow them in anticipation of a free meal.
I have caught reds to 5.5kg and seen fish to 8kg hooked right under pods of dolphins, sometimes even getting a strike before the lead hits the bottom!
One session still vivid in my memory involved six snapper landed off the rocks over two hours. Each fish was taken as the dolphins passed our rods. Six passes for six fish and not a single bite in between!
There has been an abundance of fish of 2kg to 4kg so far but I am tipping some substantially larger fish to be captured this month.
School jewfish are still whacking lures off the rocks with fish averaging 6kg regularly encountered and the odd fish to 10kg present too.
Those willing to ply their trade after dark have been doing OK off the beaches as well, with jewfish of similar sizes taking a liking to fresh squid or any number of fresh fillet baits.
Pelagic action off the rocks will still be viable with the ever-present bonito making a mess of baitfish schools, together with the usual run of undersized kingfish.
The kingfish have gotten frustratingly smaller than in previous months, with schools of 40cm fish being the norm. With a bit of luck, some big fish may turn up just before the real cold water sets in.
I have been encountering the odd mackerel tuna on spin gear recently, which has been a treat. It has been a really long time since I have seen them on the South Coast.
I reckon it was at least eight years since the last time they showed up in my neck of the woods.
Longtail tuna have a real annoying habit of showing up at this time of year, too, when I am not geared up to fish for them. So I reckon a few LBG trips will still be on the cards this month.
Offshore, tuna should be in full swing now with yellowfin and albacore prowling either side of the continental shelf. Fish to 50kg have been seen barrelling out of the ocean, decimating schools of sauries and slimy mackerel, so we should be in for a cracker month.
In the past couple of years we have seen a healthy increase in tuna numbers and many crews have been getting back into cubing on the drift. I really love this form of game fishing, especially when those calm, crisp Winter days provide the perfect drift rate.
If there are some fish around and the weather turns it on, tuna action is virtually a sure thing.
Our usual game plan is to troll small lures that appeal to tuna in order to locate some feeding fish. If a hook-up eventuates, we immediately establish a cube trail of cut pilchards, slimy mackerel and striped tuna.
Even though you may have just hooked a tuna on the troll, it can often take 40 minutes or more to get the tuna feeding on the trail before you actually hook one on a bait.
From there it can be sheer mayhem with multiple fish taking baits virtually straight under the rod tip. Other times, the fish will hang deep and baits need to be stripped back a long way to get a bite. Often this can be attributed to a mako shark keeping the fish down deep and shy.
Leading up to this report there has surprisingly been a good late showing of marlin with a couple of days producing up to 12 hook-ups together with a few good mahi mahi taking lures. If the water temperature remains decent anything is possible.Reads: 1218