NORTH COAST WINTER OPTIONS
In the winter things in our estuaries and coastal areas start to close down but not necessarily shut down. Sometimes I think we shut down a lot more than the fishing does. . I know its cold, but you normally get a lot of still calm days during the winter, which allows small boat owners to access areas they could not fish during the windy months. Some fish species actually get more active as the water temperature drops. Fish such as Garfish, Salmon, Flathead, Gummy Sharks, Couta, Blue warhoe and Sea Trout are all worth targeting throughout the winter months
Garfish are found along most areas of our beautiful North Coast all year round but it's the winter months they get the most prolific and the size increases. Between May and September we receive a run of sea gars which are mature adults, and these are worth fishing for. They fight really well for there size and taste great in the pan. They are normally reasonably widespread along the coastal areas, but inside the estuary the size normally drops a little, the further inland you go. When you are targeting gars look for structure such as shallow water sea grass beds and around edges of reefs these seen to be the most productive spots. Garfish also require specialized techniques and tackle; the first trick is to establish a berley trail out of catfood, bread, layer mash mixed with tuna oil, this will attract the gars. Once attracted small bait such as (bread dough, whitebait, chicken breast or maggots) drifted down the trail under a small quill float is a deadly method. A nice light 1-2kg rod matched with a Daiwa Caprice or Laguna 1000 reel would be a nice outfit. Also flyfishing is very popular for gars.
Gummy Sharks are another wintertime sports fish. They can be caught in most of our estuaries and bays along the north coast during the winter but beware of shark nursery regulations. Gummys can be caught in most areas of Bass Strait during the day or night. Areas to look for are light broken bottoms, channels and gutters that they scurry across the seabed feeding on various types of crustaceans and also baby octopus.
Gummies in Bass Strait vary in size and probably average around 3 kilos in weight but fish up to 13 kilos are not uncommon. They are terrific fighters and are excellent table fare. Gummies tend to freeze very well and it often pays to freeze the fillets for 2 weeks before eating them because it is meant to get rid of any traces of ammonia, which can be detected when they are fresh. Gummies can be found in any depth of water from 1 meter to 70 meters. There is no most productive depth although they tend to be in the shallows later at night. Best baits for Gummies are W.A pilchards. Fish fillets, squid and octopus. Gummies will also take live bait. The best time of the month for catching them is around the full moon where they become very active and also the annoying sea lice which eat your bait within seconds are not as active. A padanoster rig with an extended leader is an ideal rig for gummies in conjunction with a 7/0 circle hook and a 4 oz snapper lead. An ideal outfit would be an ugly stick DHB 1101 rod matched up with a Daiwa CVZ 300A reel spooled up with 14 lb fireline.
During winter many anglers also target sea trout. They are accessible to most anglers and are found in our estuaries during the winter months. They come into our estuaries to spawn up stream and also to chase whitebait and other small fish. Areas to look for are small streams that run into a larger body of water but make sure that it is not classed as an inland water so check with the inland fisheries commission if you are not sure. There are many methods of catching sea trout, lures bait and flies are most popular. I personally prefer bait fishing, as it seems to target the larger fish. Good baits for sea trout are scallop, fish flesh, whitebait, bluebait and wattle grubs. A basic running sinker rig is ideal. Lures that are popular are wonder wobblers, sting cobras, rapalas, and mcgrarth and stump jumpers. The most popular fly patterns are whitebait and small fish imitations. Sa trout can be a little bit difficult to locate and catch in our North coast estuaries and normally some homework must be done before success follows the fishing can be very challenging but fish up to 7kg plus are taken out of our North Coast estuaries every season. A suited outfit would be a Daiwa Heartland 6'6 spinning rod matched up with a Daiwa Kaster2500 thread line, spooled up with 8 lb fireline. There are many other fish species that may be targeted through winter so buy some warm thermals and get out there and have a go.
Tight lines Damon Sherriff