Getting cold feet or cold fish?
  |  First Published: July 2017

We’re in the thick of winter on the NSW South Coast. You just got to love it, don’t you? If you can get through the first few hours of cold, the days can be quite glorious.

It’s perfect fishing weather, whether you’re on the beach chasing those big silver ghosts, out in the boat in search of those elusive bluefin and yellowfin tuna, or throwing a line in your favourite little creek for big winter bream. There are plenty of options for winter fishers in our neck of the woods. Don the beanie and gloves, do your research on the weather and tides and enjoy a bit of winter solitude in our amazing area and on our numerous waterways.

The Shoalhaven/Crookhaven River system just seems to get better the more we get into the colder months. There are still plenty of mulloway being taken throughout the river even as far as the animal park and beyond. The Nowra bridge pylons and showground rocks have had fish in the 8-10kg class. They have been chasing tailor and other baitfish and probably also feeding on the numerous estuary perch that inhabit these waters at this time of the year.

Down through the canal the numbers are good, but it has had a fair bit of fishing pressure. With social media being what it is these days, people are reading about the fish being caught just before they hit the deck of the boat. As long as we all do the right thing, take only what we need to for a feed and give others a fair go at a spot when we have enough, it’s quite a sustainable fishery. Many anglers have commented on the numbers of fish and are saying they’re the best they’ve seen it in years.

Along with the mulloway, bream numbers have really come back in the river and there are some big fish amongst them. Fish to 40cm+ have been common around the river mouth and Greenwell Point with freshly pumped live nippers high on the menu for these guys. Fish these on a no. 2 long baitholder hook or with the newer technique – a lightly weighted jighead with the nipper threaded on. Both are working well, as are soft plastics presented with a bit of the good old S-Factor or other various scents and attractants available on today’s market.

Offshore the tuna have been scarce to say the least. Deep droppers are having a ball with a little current making conditions perfect for this form of fishing. Now a lot of people don’t understand or realize that deep dropping with electric reels isn’t just dropping a bait to the bottom in 1km of water and hoping for the best.

There actually is a lot of science and thought that goes into putting your bait in the right spot for the fish you’re targeting, whether it be blue-eye, ling, bass groper, gemfish or ocean perch. Anglers who do this consistently are always on the money with the best bait, boat position and current and tide timing. These are the anglers who bring home the fish time and time again.

Like any sort of fishing, time on the water, research and a few tips from those in the know will go a long way in helping you to be successful. As far as exact deep dropping spots go, good luck! They are fairly protected by those who have them and are usually more guarded than Fort Knox itself! You may have to find your own, bribe one of the ‘chosen ones,’ or go down to the pub when a suspected deep dropper is there and buy him a few drinks, then a few more drinks and hope he spills the beans! As I said, good luck with that!

Squid in Jervis Bay are in their usual good numbers and so are those rotten leatherjackets that frustrate anglers and attack $20 jigs. There is no real way to avoid the jackets apart from the obvious, not going. It’s just a matter of replacing lost jigs and hopefully avoiding the jackets the next time you go. It really is a ‘suck it up and see’ situation in this case, so happy squidding, or sad, depending on the outcome.

Enjoy the cold while it lasts. Spring and summer are just around the corner!

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