Outsmarting the Wind

By Lloyd Lyons

The stretch of coastline I call home is from Shark Bay to Jurien Bay in W.A. and I would have to say without a doubt that this is definitely one of the windiest coastlines in Australia. So when it comes to offshore fishing I am limited by the wind 90 percent of the time, so what do I do to escape the wind? There are no open estuary systems or impoundment lakes close by to escape to but what I do have is a harbour or port which attracts plenty of bait and diverse fish species all year round. My local harbour is made up of rock walls that are designed to stop the incoming swell from smashing the moored boats and ships that seek protection inside the waters of the harbour. These massive structures are a haven for small fish to live in as well as all the baitfish that look for a safe place to hide. Of course this brings in the big predators to cruise the rock walls looking for an easy feed.

Majority of the fish that inhabit the harbours and surrounding rock walls are generally on the smaller side and are best suited to 1-3kg Bream style tackle. The gear I use is a Fireblood 1000FA spin reel matched to a 1 - 3kg 7 ft T Curve Flight spin rod running 6lb Power Pro braid and 8 - 10lb leader. That being said I also like to pack a heavier 15 - 20lb outfit with 20 - 30lb leader to target the resident bigger fish or just in case a bigger class of fish show up unexpected, which happens quite alot.

Finding the fish in my local harbour is just like anywhere else you need to look for structures such as the rock walls I mentioned earlier. Over the years I have marked plenty of hidden structure and small reef patches that can easily be found with a bit of time spent watching the sounder. There are of course all the usual fish holding structures to look for like old moored boats, jetty’s, boat ramps, channel markers, old pylons and wharfs that are all worth a crack. I prefer to fish these areas with small Squidgy pro range soft plastics like the 65 -100mm Wrigglers and 70 - 100mm Flick baits.

My preferred technique is to locate a fishy area then drift through the area firing off a few casts while also watching my sounder to locate any fish or structure underneath the boat. I do this until I find a fish holding in a certain spot, if it's good numbers of fish I will often set the pick and burly. Once I have a burly trail going I cast my plastic out into the trail, let the plastic settle on the bottom and then slowly twitch the plastic up thru the trail back to the boat. If I find it's a touch to windy to use lighter plastics I will use the boat to get in close behind the rock walls to use them as wind breaks.  

The depth of the areas I fish in the harbour are generally between 2 - 10 meters deep and just about anything can turn up at any time. The species I catch regularly range from Juvenile Pink Snapper to Tarwhine, Silver Trevally, Estuary Cod, Tailor, Herring, Black Bream and Mangrove Jack. There are also times when big Golden Trevally, Sampson Fish, School and Spanish Mackerel, big Pink Snapper, Bonito, Tuna, Sharks and Sand Snapper have turned up and put the light gear and anglers to the test.

But even some days the wind makes fishing the harbour just not possible, this is usually when the wind is blowing 25 -35 knots and in my part of the world this can sometimes turn into weeks of non-stop howling winds. One option I have to escape such strong winds is to leave the boat at home and head a little way inland and fish my local rivers and when I say rivers I should say over sized streams. I say this because majority of the rivers I fish are mainly land locked and would be 30 - 40m at their widest points. But these little over looked “streams” hold their fair share of light tackle sport fish from Thumper Black Bream to Giant Herring, Chopper Tailor, Mangrove Jack, School Mulloway and even mixed Tilapia (Cichlids).

The rivers are mainly land locked and shallow with hardly any water movement so lightly weighted 60 - 100mm Squidgies are my preferred option. The gear I use is much the same as in the harbour 1 - 3kg Bream gear running 6 - 12lb leader. Well placed subtle cast into the snags along the banks often produces the best results for Bream and Mangrove Jacks. I also find schools of Bream holding along the deeper sections and drop offs in the river especially on the hotter less windy days.

If the action is slow on the bottom of the river I find using surface lures like the 50mm Stiffy Poppers and Stiffy Top Dogs are a great way to entice surface strikes from species like Giant Herring and chopper Tailor, and even Bream in the right conditions. And although most of the GH and Tailor are on the smaller side they still hit lures hard and jump meters out of the water to throw the hooks.

Well there you have it a few ways I beat the wind and as you can see by just adjusting your tackle to suit the area you fish you can still have a great days sports fishing. I hope I have given you a few ideas on how you can beat the wind at your location next time you need to scratch that fishing itch.