Winter can be a fun time to fish, and after the run of summer pelagic action that I get into with my father, it’s good to sometimes have a break and settle down for some slower fishing trips.
Tuna and trevally are big fast fish, but flathead, smaller mulloway and even whiting on poppers can be fun on light tackle.
The weather over the last few weeks, particularly after the rain we’ve had, has cooled off dramatically, making early starts painful. I like the warm part of the year when the sun rises early, and that’s my cue to wake Dad up and put the boat in the water. This time of the year can see southerly and westerly winds that make offshore fishing tough, but there’s always somewhere down the straits or the river to get out of the wind, and this is where I like to chase a few flathead.
Light lines of 10-15lb are ideal with a good 20lb fluorocarbon leader, a few small hardbodies and some lighter 1/4oz jigheads and 3” plastics is all you need for some great fun. Look for shallow water warmed by the sun, especially around rocks and structure, as the baitfish will be there, and this is where the big flathead will be.
Patience is needed, as a big flathead can be cunning. I have been stood on the pier and watched big flathead from above ignore everything, even a live herring dropped on their nose! They can be very frustrating, but I guess every time you walk past a food shop, you don’t always stop and have a snack!
Cool water in the bay can bring on the annual snapper run, and the artificial reef is a good spot to start with baits. I prefer plastics and hardbody lures just on daylight and dusk. Look for bait schools on the sounder and fish near them.
We often popper fish for whiting down the straits, and around German Creek and Longpad Gutte. The last half of the run-out tide is my pick, and a good tip is to stay in water less than a meter deep. Any of the small clear poppers or stickbaits work, just remember to keep winding at a medium pace to imitate a shrimp or prawn skipping across the surface.
Smaller trevally are about and take whiting and flathead lures – they put up a good fight on light line. We release all of these, as they aren’t very good to cook, only keeping the odd flathead or squid for a tasty meal.
When we get offshore on the calm days, we often find big tuna down deep on snapper spots and catch them on deep lures and plastics intended for snapper. They can be over 15kg, but don’t seem to fight as hard as they do in summer, possibly due to the water temperatures.
So there you go, there’s still quite a few fish to be caught in the depths of winter. I hope these tips see you into some quality fish in the near future.Reads: 1964