Water temperatures remained quite stable over the last two months, but will drop right off this month with a good frost or two, reaching lows of 14°C around Broken Bay and as low as 10°C up at Windsor and Penrith.
The fish are still willing and the overall quality certainly makes up for the lack of numbers. Big bream, 1m+ mulloway and decent flathead will call the lower reaches home over the next few months. Lures are my go-to in winter as live bait gets harder to source. For those willing to put the effort in, try West Head and Barrenjoey Headland.
You will find success by either anchoring and berleying up or locating schools on the sounder and dropping a bait jig into them. Yellowtail are the most common baitfish. Sweep and bullseye can interfere with proceedings; these also make good live baits and most large predators can’t refuse a struggling, well-placed livey.
Southern calamari also make exceptional live and dead baits and can be found in the same areas. Larger sized jigs from 2.5-3.5 in orange, pink and natural colours have been working well. A squid spike rigged with fresh bait is a handy asset and can be left in a rod holder, a couple of turns up from the bottom with the drag set to around a kilo.
Some stud bream are calling the washes home lately and are best targeted using a bread berley and lightly weighted baits of peeled prawn or bread on 8-10lb fluorocarbon and small, strong hooks. Other species like drummer and silver trevally can get in on the action and the odd bust-off will occur on the light line suggested.
You can lure fish in the same areas, but lure losses are a common occurrence. Floating crankbaits can be cast and cranked down through the strike zone and paused to float over any obstructions. Alternately a very lightly weighted soft plastic can be wafted around in the white water with the odd twitch to entice a bite.
Back in the river proper, resident bream will be holding deep on the rock walls in 6-10m. Make parallel casts with small vibes and curl-tail grub soft plastics once fish have been located to keep in the zone. The bites can seem timid at times and a smear of your favourite scent can be beneficial.
Estuary perch are a common by-catch when looking for bream and mulloway around reefs and rock walls at this time of year. Be mindful as it is the closed season and they should be returned to the water immediately.
Mulloway are still about, and lure fishing will be productive. Fishing the tide changes with soft plastics, soft vibes and deep diving crankbaits will account for some great school mulloway. Live baiting will still take fish, but the effort required to initially source bait is time-consuming and sometimes unproductive.
The hairtail have been making regular appearances in anglers’ catches while fishing in Cowan, Smiths, and Coal and Candle creeks. Set your baits at different depths, add a bit of berley and wait for the action to start. Casting a 100mm shallow running hardbody around the adjacent area can also turn these fish on, especially when they are being fussy with taking baits. A slow roll with the odd pause and jerk should see you in the action.
When seeking a likely spot, I always sound around and make sure there is bait in the general area. If you find none, move to another likely point or bay and repeat the process until good concentrations are found. Find the bait and you will find the fish.Reads: 1630