Last month’s final push of warm water seems to have all but gone and now we’re back to coolish water with very few northern pelagic species.
To replace the wahoo, mackerel and cobia will be tailor, bream and blackfish. Not exactly a fair swap, but a reflection of the change in season and letting us know Winter is just about upon us.
So the mackerel rods are now away and it's time to think of all those fun Winter species, like snapper, mulloway, kingfish, yellowfin tuna and so on.
While the ocean has certainly lost the exciting northern speedsters, there are still plenty of quality fish poking round to justify offshore outings.
Those heading to sea should be looking for kings around Fish Rock and Black Rock. As the weather gets cooler the kingfish usually get bigger, with a run of top-shelf fish likely to turn up during late Winter.
These same kings will also be following the mullet as they make their run along the ocean rocks and beaches, so slowly trolling the headlands with solid live baits is a good option at this time of year.
Don't be too surprised if a Spanish mackerel making its run north again snips you off.
Those heading to the northern ‘mackerel’ reefs (those off Grassy and up to Scotts Head) should be able to find a few nice snapper. Again, fish early and in this case set up a steady berley trail. Drift down lightly weighted cut flesh baits or pilchards.
Just as with the kings, the cooler the weather gets, the better the snapper fishing will be.
With the mullet run kicking along nicely there's always a chance of picking up a jewfish by fishing the ocean rocks or along the beaches.
Mulloway will cruise up the coast, keeping nice and close to the mullet schools.
Those spinning with large minnow lures or using live mullet or even tailer stand a good chance of snaring a big jewfish this month. Just fish around the tidal changes and concentrate your efforts around the prime times of dawn and dusk.
Those fishing the same locations can also usually expect to find some quality bream and tailor on the move.
Again, prime times are usually dawn and dusk, with lightly weighted cut flesh bait or pilchards on 2/0 hooks ideal for the bream, and whole pilchards or gar for the tailor. Bream will strike baits meant for tailor and tailor with take baits aimed at bream, so expect a few bite offs during a ‘bream’ session.
Back in the Macleay River the cooler water temps have all but shut down the flathead, but other species like bream and blackfish are starting to come into their own.
Most of the action will be close to the river mouth. Fishing around the tide changes will produce both species, with the bream falling for lightly weighted flesh baits and prawns and the luderick for the local weed and sea cabbage.
It's hard not to have good numbers of bream and blackfish around without a few sizable mulloway close by.
As you can imagine, Winter is a great time to live-bait and lure-fish the lower reaches. Big baits often equal big fish and those fishing around dawn and dusk and into the night can expect the best results.
The cool weather and rapidly dropping water temps inspire many of the local bass to slowly edge their way down river to spawn. While the main spawning run is often during late Winter, many will be thinking about the months prior and often feed up heavily on the way to the brackish zones.
But remember there's a closed season now on bass and effectively you can't possess them from June 1 to August 31. Those bass caught while fishing for other species during this time need to be released immediately.
While we are losing some of the exciting northern species daily, the run of quality Winter fish should keep you well and truly busy till the water heats up again next December.Reads: 1359