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Things Are Really Heating Up

By Lewis Kennedy-Hunt on December 29, 2021 in Other

Lewis with a nice tailor, caught on a 95mm Bassday Sugapen. Photo: Lewis Kennedy-Hunt

With the water temperature increasing rapidly, thanks to the East Australian Current, the bait fish are beginning to stack up everywhere. This can mean only one thing for keen fishos – it’s time to rip in to some hard fighting, drag pulling, lure stealing pelagic species. Forget Chrissy and New Years, it’s the hot fishing that makes this time of year so exciting.

The Harbour Is Alive
Right now the harbour is teeming with kingfish, tailor, Australian salmon and the odd bonito. The telltale sign of circling and diving birds, accompanied by the severing of the water’s surface while these predatory pelagics chase their dinner, gives away their location.
Rat kingfish are beginning to plague the harbour and can be caught underfeeding pelagics and on surface lures, as well as traditional live baiting methods. Myself and fellow fisho Rhys enjoyed some nice kingfish up to 70cm on soft plastics just last week. Consistent catches of kings in the 90-100cm range have also been frequenting my Instagram feed, caught mainly on live baits like yakkas, tailor or squid fished unweighted around heavy structure.
Summer is also a great time to catch blue swimmer crabs. A fish frame presented inside a witches hat-style trap will work perfectly – a relatively inexpensive and easy way to catch a feed.

Plenty of Inshore Action
Winter, arguably the best time for the bigger snapper in the wash, is now long gone, but spring presents an opportunity to catch pan-sized snapper up to around 50cm in the wash zones around the local headlands. Lightly weighted (¼oz) soft plastics up to 5 inches, or lightly weighted fresh squid or pilchard baits, can easily catch you a feed of delicious snapper. I prefer fishing in low light periods and when there is a swell of over 2m as this really fires up the bubbly wash zone that the snapper like to sit in. If you are heading out in a boat, my advice is to leave the boat idling in neutral, just in case things go south and you need to send it away from the rocks quickly.
A notable catch this month was by Maroubra local Richie Vaculik and his mate Stephen Oh, who speared two monster kingfish over 20kg with Stephen’s handcrafted spearguns during a dive off Maroubra.
With water temperatures increasing towards the annual maximum, dolphinfish will become more prevalent around the fish aggregating devices (FAD) a few nautical miles offshore. You’ll need live baits or lures, as well as a slightly bigger boat and a ballsier skipper!
Some of my diver mates have been getting into sizeable bonito around the inshore reefs, although they are yet to migrate into the harbour in numbers. Although it is the back end of the lobster season, there are still reports of them being caught by divers and in traps.

Fishing the Rocks and Beaches
A host of winter and summer species are being caught off the rocks at this time of year. Reddam teacher Justin Compton and James Hutton, publisher of The Beast, have been getting into a few eastern groper (all returned), black drummer and luderick from the rocks, as well as plenty of bream and blue spot flathead from the beach using traditional Alvey reels.
Just last week I spotted a bloke fishing at one of the local beaches with live nippers catching a bag of horse whiting. Bronte elder Mark McGuire has also been on fire with the ludes. A few of the hardcore land-based game guys are starting to pick up some solid kings off the stones using surface stickbaits and live baits under floats.
For those heading up or down the coast with a fishing rod these holidays like I am, best of luck to you. Merry Christmas and tight lines!