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The complete guide to winter fishing in Australia

by Gary Brown 22 Jun 05:16 UTC
The complete guide to winter fishing in Australia © Boat Accessories Australia

Now that winter has descended upon us and the water and air temperatures have started to cool down many anglers tend to put their fishing gear into hibernation ready for the weather to warm up.

Not me!

I'm an angler that will fish year-round, chasing species like luderick, drummer, silver trevally, yellowfin bream and estuary perch off the rocks, beaches and in the estuaries.

Trying to single out a fish species for each state and territory to target is very hard as it will depend on where you are going to fish.

What I have done for this article is to give you a few suggestions of species, places and techniques that you could try for each of the states and territories in Australia.

Queensland

Anglers based in Queensland might want to think about chasing mulloway and kingfish with live poddies or yellowtail at Wave Break Island on the Broadwater at the Gold Coast. Or try trolling deep-diving lures for cobia, barramundi and trevally in the Mission, Hey and Embley River estuaries. If it's too rough to get out you could always try shore-based at Gonbung Beach, Evans Landing, Kerr Point, Red Beach and Wallaby Island.

On the other hand, soft plastics and small shallow diving hard body lures would be ideal for jungle perch in Townsville. You could try either casting or trolling hard bodied lures for barramundi, mangrove jacks and trevally in the rivers and creeks of Cape York.

For those of you that like beach fishing for tailor, queenfish, bream, whiting and dart, Frazer Island would be a great place to visit. 3 and 4-inch soft plastics, 40-gram metal lures, whole pilchards and garfish on a set of ganged hooks would be good for the tailor and queenfish.

My first choice of bait for the bream, whiting and dart would be beach worms, followed by pipis and strips of fresh mullet. If you don't like getting your hands smelly with bait you could always try working 2.5 and 3-inch soft plastics through the many gutters that can be found on the island.

New South Wales

As for NSW I would think about targeting snapper over the close offshore reefs using strips of tuna and half pilchards. Tailor and Australian salmon should be schooling off the beaches in Sydney and they can't seem to resist either whole garfish or pilchards on a set of ganged hooks, but don't forget to have a couple of 40-gram metal slicers in the bag in case they are out a bit wide.

Another fish species that will be schooling up will be luderick in the estuaries and off the rocks. Your best baits would be green weed and cabbage suspended under either a bobby cork or stemmed float.

Even though drummer can be caught while using fresh green weed off the ocean rocks in Sydney, you could try using whole peeled prawns or bread from your boat back into the washes. This is best done while you leave your outboard motor running with two anglers onboard: one looking after the boat while the other casts in the wash.

Yellowfin bream and mullet can't seem to resist pudding baits cast in and around the oyster leases at Port Stephens and the main rock wall at Yamba. Cast live baits for mulloway at the base of the bridges on the Tweed River. The bluefin tuna will have started to show up off Sydney and down to the border. Try trolling 5 to 8-inch skirted lures or cubing pilchards while drifting. Keep an eye out for diving terns.

Chasing bream in deep-water (say five to 10 metres) in Sydney Harbour, the Pittwater, Botany Bay and Middle Harbour in the Sydney area with blades. Remember to put scent on the blades and they are more effective when worked in very slow and small hops along the bottom.

While inland you could target brown and rainbow trout in river creeks and dams on wet flies, Mepps spinners and live scrub worms.

I would give the Australian bass and estuary perch a miss as there is a closed season on catching them from June the first to September the 1st.

Victoria

If you live or are thinking of travelling to Victoria you could target black bream in the estuaries along the east coast and around to Lakes Entrance with soft plastics, slender and narrow hard bodied lures and small crabs. Yellow-eyed mullet and garfish will also be a great option in the estuaries while fishing with pudding baits suspended under a float.

Yellowtail kingfish and tuna would be a good option from Lakes Entrance to the entrance to Port Phillip bay. Live baits, skirted lures and metals would be my choice of weapon.

Gummy sharks will be on the chew in Western Port and pipis are the go for King George whiting at Tortoise Head in 2.5 metres. Either use a paternoster rig or a running sinker down onto a swivel with a leader of about one metre in length.

Calamari are taking 2.5 to 3.5 sized squid jigs in neutral colours at Quail Bank.

If the weather blows up and you can't get your boat out, you could always try fishing off the shore or from one of the many piers or wharves found in Victoria. Try using either a small running sinker down onto the bait or a paternoster rig for leatherjackets, bream, salmon trout, flathead, flounder, whiting and garfish with pieces of prawns or squid for bait.

South Australia

With the weather being more predictable during June in much of South Australia, it will bring large schools of whiting to Adelaide's waters. Salmon trout, snapper and squid are also available in good numbers.

Places to try would be North Haven, West Beach, Hallett Cove and inshore close to Brighton Jetty. If it's garfish that you're after you could try along much of the Metro coast, Brighton and Port Noarlunga Jetties. If you have a boat you could always try fishing at Brighton, Seacliff, West Beach, Semaphore Reef and Norma Wreck.

There should be a few blue swimmer crabs about with the best areas being in slightly deeper waters around Wonga Shoal and out past the Black Pole.

If you are looking to travel to the York Peninsula you could try Marion Bay, Corny Point and Edithburgh for snapper on whiting heads, whole and half pilchards and strips of freshly caught squid.

I haven't been to Browns Beach, Gleesons Landing and Berry Bay for a while, but the salmon should be starting to school up and I would try whole pilchards and whitebait on a set or ganged hooks or small metal lures. Garfish will be on the bite at Stansbury, Tiparra Lighthouse, Port Broughton and Ardrossan.

Who doesn't like a feed of squid? I love them! Try Point Turton and Edithburgh, Tiparra Lighthouse and Port Hughes Jetty. For the best results I would make sure that I have a variety of colours in size 2, 2.5, 3 and 3.5's.

Salmon are an iconic winter fish that South Aussies love to get among in the cooler months, and the West Coast beaches. Places like Locks Well, Talia, Sheringa, Convention Beach and Almonta would be worth a look.

Western Australia

Probably the most prolific and sought-after winter species is pink snapper. Winter will bring these prize fish into very shallow water. In fact, during and just after the winter storms, this species comes so close to shore that you can catch them from many metro land-based locations. Try using squid and whiting heads, whole and half pilchards and strips of mullet for bait.

Have you ever thought about slow trolling for pan-sized snapper? Whether you are trolling shallow or deep this can be achieved by using a deep diving minnow that will go to between three to five-metres in depth. If you have a down rigger you could try trolling shallow hard bodied lures or lightly weighted soft plastics so that they are about a metre off the bottom.

Squid will be about in numbers and if the weather blows up you can always stay closer to the shore.

King George whiting is another popular fish species to target during winter and at this time of the year they seem to prefer the deeper water or around the 20-metre mark that has a semi hard bottom with a bit of weed growth on it.

If you are a bit keener and want to head further offshore, then chasing a dhufish will probably be your target species. The good news is that, in winter, dhufish will also move a bit shallower with plenty of good-sized dhufish being caught in waters 20 to 30 metres deep. This opens up a whole lot of ground much closer to shore, and also allows for some light jigging.

Offshore fishing spots in Perth offer anglers a wide range of species including dhufish, pink snapper, baldchin groper, King George whiting, silver trevally and samson fish. During summer, Spanish mackerel and tuna also turn up.

Tasmania

With the onset of winter this will tend to put many a Tasmanian angler indoors. If you are not afraid of a bit of cold weather you could try for blue warehou, blue spot flathead and Eastern Australian salmon - and the staple of their gamefish, bluefin tuna.

For thinking anglers prepared to put in the hard yards, the rewards are there, you just have to know where to look and what to look for. Vast volumes of freshwater are currently flowing into saltwater estuaries creating that freshwater wedge, driving pelagic species back into the brine.

Species such as blue warehou love that mix of fresh and salt, and anglers seeking fish should look for these intersecting areas. Try the Tamar River in Northern Tasmania, where the salt runs along its length to Launceston and where the South Esk and North Esk rivers meet.

Blue spot flathead is regularly captured along the river length. Try the area near Inspection Head wharf. Best baits appear to be whitebait, chicken or soft plastics.

Northern Territory

June will start to see the clear blue skies, light south-easterly breezes and sensational sunsets that typify what is known locally as the dry season. It's a month that also starts the peak Bluewater fishing season for fish species like Spanish, broad bar mackerel, longtail tuna, cobia, queenfish and giant and golden trevally as they work the bait schools.

Reef fishing for quality table fish also heats up during this time. Popular species like golden snapper, tricky snapper, black jewfish, coral trout and red emperor are readily caught on both inshore and offshore reefs.

Most big tidal rivers continue to provide quality barramundi fishing well into the dry season. Once the floodplains drain and the river waters clear you will find that they will maintain clarity. The coastal mangrove estuaries and creeks are also prime barramundi waters, along with the freshwater, landlocked billabongs.

Whether you are a local or are travelling our magnificent country, hopefully this small insight as to what fish species that you could target throughout Australia will get you out and about in your boat.

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