A Month of Opportunity
June, with its westerly winds, crisp short evenings and icy cold ocean, is always a melancholic month in Sydney. Longing for spring and vaguely recalling autumn, the wet weeks can drag and the nights oft feel somewhat lifeless as everyone rushes home from work to avoid the winter chill.
But I guess that’s the joy of living in such a summery city on such an awesome part of the earth. The balmy warm months are so many that winter is really just a short divergence from beach days, boardies and bikinis.
These days, I love winter more than I ever have; the thrill of night diving, tuna fishing and short sojourns up and down our magical coast in search of skinny water snapper makes the brief daylight hours and somewhat drab weeks more bearable.
Mix in some great dinners with friends, a night or three by an open fire and the odd escape to some far flung location where the days are longer and the weather is warmer and it almost feels like winter didn’t actually happen.
For the fishing afflicted among the devoted readers of The Beast, we should all know by now that winter simply means a change of focus from summertime locales to winter ones, and the seasonal arrival of certain species along with the departure of others.
June is a month of real opportunity for anglers with access to a boat. In the harbour and around the coastal wrecks, late June is an ideal time to swim small live baits for shy John Dory. They’re slowish moving ambush predators with very large mouths, so small liveys are essential to catch them regularly. Fish areas where baitfish congregate in deep, still bays, suspend your rig at about a quarter of the water depth and use a 10kg/20lb leader and a large gape hook. There’s still a high chance of a kingy or a mulloway so some skilful angling may be required if you hook one of these.
The Australian salmon will also be here, there and everywhere during the next few months and, while many people don’t rate their eating quality, a properly dispatched and prepared salmon is delicious. To catch them regularly on an artificial lure, always scale down the size and cast in front of the feeding school. If there’s a breeze and you’re boat fishing, position the boat upwind from the school and use it to carry your lure. To prepare salmon for cooking and eating, bleed them quickly and thoroughly, then fillet and skin them once you’re back at the ramp, ensuring that you remove the bloodline. If you’re planning to hot smoke them – a delicious way of preparing them – you’re best bet is to either butterfly them by removing the spine, or simply fillet them and leave the skin on, before running them in a mix of brown sugar and salt and leaving them to sit for an hour. Then get your wood chips smoking and lay the fillets skin side down.
Winter is also all about southern calamari squid. The baby squid, newly spawned in spring, are now full-sized and growing out their later stages of life. In fact, science has shown that southern calamari squid are short-lived, only living to one year. During this time they feed voraciously and grow quickly, making them a very sustainable source. So, if you and your family love eating calamari, targeting a few kilos of these during a warm winter’s afternoon or crisp dawn is a sure-fire way to have some fun.