Winter is well out of the way on the calendar and although air temps are rising, water temps will remain cold for quite some time. This means Winter fishing strategies will still apply for the next month or so.
The lower Harbour is still the pick of the spots although late this month should see some action starting to stir on the Hawkesbury with bream, flatties and jewies.
For sport anglers this period usually marks the start of the salmon run and they have already started to mass around the beaches and headlands.
When they finally move into the harbours and bays, it will just be a matter of luck as to what they are feeding on.
If the prey is tiny then they will be a difficult proposition on casting gear and conventional lures. If this is the case then fly fishing with tiny flies that ‘match the hatch’ may be the only option. Hopefully we will see a repeat of last year when they were feeding on anything and lures of any size were readily accepted.
It’s a little-known secret that morwong move into the lower Harbour when the water is cooler and can often be taken in good numbers with the right techniques.
They particularly like the deep, rocky points right where the rocks hit the sand. A couple of reliable spots are Flagstaff Point, Fairlight Point, Dobroyd Reef and Bottle and Glass Point.
Mowies are suckers for prawns or fresh squid fished near or on the bottom. I first discovered them while fishing for leatherjackets with a two-dropper paternoster rig baited with small bits of prawn and this technique still remains the most successful.
Because you will be using small hooks, you need to go very lightly when fighting them and you are guaranteed a great battle on the light gear required to catch them.
The bonus of this technique is that you will also snare plenty of jackets, bream and trevally. Iced quickly, filleted, skinned and then pan-fried, mowies make a delicious feed.
You'll also find your live baits coming under increasing attack from squid as things warm up over the next few months. It's very difficult to land them on live bait because they generally always let go just before reaching the surface, but there are a couple of tricks to landing these succulent morsels.
If you are very slow and steady, you might just get a landing net under one, especially the arrow squid which are much greedier and dumber than calamari squid.
Otherwise, you will have to jag them and there are two ways to do this.
Firstly, there is the baited squid jag which consists of a prong onto which a dead pilchard or yellowtail is placed. At the bottom of that is the standard multi-pronged barbless jag.
This rig is lowered into the water and left hanging on a tight line until the squid grabs it and becomes automatically hooked.
The other method involves the standard Yamashita-type squid jig.
Once the squid has taken your live bait meant for a king or whatever, slowly pull it to the surface. Have a squid jig ready next to you on a handline.
The squid will usually release your live bait near the surface in full view. When it does so, pull your live bait out of the water as quickly as possible and drop the squid jig in.
Most times the squid will come straight back up and grab the jig, thinking it is the bait it has just dropped.
The hardest decision to make now is whether the squid is going back out live on an 8\0 or heading home into the frypan – they are sensational for both.
Silver trevally are another ‘Winter’ fish that will peak over the next few months. Trevs are very underrated, being excellent fighters and, if prepared properly, are also excellent eating fish.
They are found in the Harbour only in their juvenile sizes, up to 2kg, but 500g to 1kg fish are more common.
They are schooling fish so where you catch one there are usually more. Trevs prefer deep, clear water so generally the lower reaches are the spots to find them. But after periods of dry weather they can be located farther upstream.
Trevally are really just like big yellowtail and that means they respond very well to a berley trial. It is not unusual to hook trevs while you are catching yakkas for bait.
Small, soft baits like pilchard fillets or peeled prawns on small hooks (sizes 4-1) are the go because trevs have small, soft mouths.
The trick is to feed very lightly-weighted or even unweighted baits down the berley trail.
Bream and even the occasional pan-sized reddie are also taken this way.
Trevs should be bled immediately and iced down straight away. Filleted and skinned and then pan-fried in egg and flour, they make an exceptional feed.Reads: 931