Just because it’s winter, it doesn’t mean we should pack away the tackle until the warmer weather returns. Indeed our southern winters can be cool and often inclement, but we still have some fantastic temperate fishing on offer during the cooler months. It’s just a case of donning some warm clothing, and fishing sensibly around the weather. There’s no point getting blasted by cold Antarctic wind, as you’ll likely pack up and go home pretty quickly. But by selecting some of the better winter weather, and choosing your location purposefully, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy some hot winter action. Below I’ll list some of my favourite winter fishing that I look forward to each year.
Here in SA our bream fishing starts to heat up once the first rains of winter have arrived and the salinity in our estuaries begins to drop. This dropping salinity acts as a cue for mature bream to re-enter our tidal creeks, rivers and inlets prior to their spring spawning. We’ve already had some decent rains of late and we’re now seeing some good bream re-entering our rivers.
Bait fishing is always an option; casting lightly weighted baits on circle or shiner hooks, but lure fishing gets the heart rate going quicker. Grabbing a light 1 – 3kg or 2 – 4kg outfit matched with a 1000 or 2500 size threadline reel and flicking soft plastics around your favourite bream haunt is a great way to spend a few hours. My favourite bream outfit is a Zodias 4-8lb (2 – 4kg) matched with a Stradic 1000 CI4 with 6lb Power Pro braid. My favourite soft plastics for bream would be 65mm Squidgy Wrigglers and 65mm Bio Tough Grub plastics both in bloodworm colour matched to a 1/16oz finesse jig head with a size 2 hook.
Winter is the prime time for southern bluespot flathead along our temperate coastline. It’s at this time of year our bigger flatties push into our shallow bays and inlets, and they can offer some great sport. I really enjoy walking along our shallow protected beaches, casting soft plastics around scattered rock and patches of weed. Flathead are ambush feeders, so it’s usually a case of persistence pays off. Keep casting and covering likely water, as there are often a flathead or two laying in the obvious locales.
My favourite outfit for chasing our winter flathead is a 1 – 4kg Jewel rod with a Sustain FI 2500 reel and spooled with 10lb Power Pro braid. You will need to run a rod length of fluorocarbon or hard mono leader of around 12 to 16lb. Our flathead have quite raspy teeth too, so it pays to check your leader after you land a fish or two. My favourite plastics for our bluespot flathead are the 100mm Bio Tough Fish in Cracked Pepper and Pink Glitz.
While whiting may not offer the dedicated lure-fisho much action, they are still a worthy wintertime target. It’s at this time of year that our humble KG’s school-up and hold over traditional winter tape weed and eel grass grounds. On light gear whiting are still a lot of fun to catch, especially when they get up around 40cm or more.
While we do catch the occasional KG on lures, they are definitely more a bait fishing target. When we target KG’s in winter, we’ll usually drop anchor, drop a berley pot and cast small baits back into the berley trail. We do a bit of land based fishing for whiting in winter, but the majority of our fishing is from a boat. We’re typically fishing in 3 to 10m of water in winter. My favourite whiting rod at the moment is the same outfit that I use for flathead; a 1 – 4kg Jewel rod with a Sustain FI 2500 reel and spooled with 10lb Power Pro braid.
Surf fishing for salmon here in SA is a time-honored winter pastime. It’s during the cooler months when we see larger schools of salmon from the west push along SA’s surf coastline. Along my local surf beaches of the Eyre Peninsula we see massive schools of fish take up residence for a few months, offering fantastic sport for the surf fisher.
While you can effectively target them with bait by fishing in the deeper gutter, the most exciting method would have to be casting metal lures on light to medium weight surf outfits. Seeing a mob of lit-up salmon hot on the tail of you lure is cool to watch, and so too is the dogged, aerial fight that often ensues. A lot of our winter salmon are 3kg and upwards, with fish of 5kg a quality salmon in the surf.
Lightweight outfits of between 9 and 11 foot and rated to around 4 – 8kg are ideal for casting 40gm metal slugs in the surf. Couple this rod with a 4000 size reel and 20lb braid and you have, in my opinion, the perfect lure casting outfit for the surf, and one you can easily cast all day without fatigue. My favourite outfit is a Shimano Dialuna S1100M 11ft rod and Stradic FK 5000 reel with 20lb Power Pro braid.
Some good lures for the surf include Coltsniper 40g Wonderfall jigs and Spanyid Raider 40g metal slices – both cast like a bullet. Salmon are masters at throwing the hook when they start tail walking though, so retrofitting the Raider with a single inline 4/0 hook rather than the standard treble will generally improve the landing ratio, and will assist in easier release.
Winter is a great time to be on and around the water. We still have some fantastic fishing on offer along our southern coastline, and the crowds are often less as well.