The Winter That Was

By Jamie Crawford

Now that winter has drawn to a close, it’s interesting to look back over the winter that we had here in SA for 2017. Our winter started off with six weeks of perfect weather – mild, sunny and light winds. This calm spell offered perfect conditions for targeting our southern calamari, and they were around in good numbers.

Here in our local waters winter is the prime time for good numbers of calamari, and we enjoyed consistent fishing over our shallow weed beds and broken bottom in our local bay. We would start by working a local patch and would drift over the ground, working our Egixile jigs down quite deep. That’s the beauty of targeting calamari when the wind is down and the drift is slow, you can work your jigs close to the bottom with relative ease.

Stand out jigs for us this past winter were Sephia Egixile jigs in size 3.5 in the colours Keimura White, Natural Rainbow and Natural Gold. If we had these three jigs on board we found we were covering all bases, and we would rarely go home without a good feed. I always prefer casting in front of the direction of drift to allow the jig to reach some depth before starting a whipping retrieve. I allow a belly of line to form, and when the jig is close to the bottom I’ll do two quick whips by lifting the rod tip vertically, before allowing the jig to settle again.

And while the squid were cooperative, our shallow water King George Whiting suffered in the clean, calm conditions. Our whiting were very slow to school up this past winter given the clean conditions, but when the first big blow arrived in July the fish began schooling and moving into the shallows of the bay. I really enjoy targeting our winter whiting in shallow water – they offer a challenge as well as tasty fillets at the end of the session.

One of my favourite winter targets here in SA is our bluespot flathead. Good numbers of bluespot move into the shallow fringes of our local bay and along beaches in our nearby national park. They take up residence in these shallower waters during the cooler months before pushing back into deeper water once the water begins to warm. This past winter was sensational for our bluespot flathead, and we would average around ten fish per session; which is consistent fishing for our species of flathead.

This past season we caught some good flathead on 70mm squidgy fish in black gold, green grunter, cracked pepper and white lightening, 100mm wriggler in cracked pepper and white lightening, plus 80mm whipbaits in pilly and white lightening. And while we caught fish on all of these plastics, our stand-out plastics were 70mm squidgy fish in white lightening and cracked pepper – absolute gun plastics on our local flathead.

The good thing about calamari, whiting and flathead, is that they can all be successfully targeted on the one outfit. This past winter I’ve been using a Zodias 681 light spin 4-8lb matched with a Stradic Ci4+ with 6lb power pro braid – a lightweight, responsive and super-smooth spin outfit.

During winter we have a good run of Australian salmon on some local surf beaches, and this year has been no exception. Schools of fish have been fairly reliable along our surf coast – mostly averaging 2 – 3kg, but we’ve also had good numbers of fish along some protected beaches in a local national park. These fish have been a bit smaller at 1 – 2kg, but still prove to be a fun target nevertheless.

Because of the calm weather we had at the beginning of winter, this enabled us to access some deeper water locations down the coast. We get a few big gummy sharks in the deeper water during the cooler months, and on our first session we landed a beautiful gummy of just over 5ft. This shark was caught on a Socorro 10,000 and matched to a T-Curve Deep Jig 400 – this is a no-nonsense outfit and can really put some hurt on these sharks, which is what you want given the strong currents in this area.

That’s just a few of the highlights of our past winter. It can be a tough time of year to brave the elements, but it’s always worthwhile. Spring is now here, which offers a different set of challenges and alternate species.