Winter in the seaway. Cold nights, westerly winds, flat calm seas, clear water and falling water temperatures. With the daytime surface feeding frenzies of autumn behind us all of these factors add up to some tough fishing during the day. With the seaway and broadwater now fully into the grip of winter lets look at the options we have for fishing.
Surface feeding during the day is very unpredictable during winter, Queenfish and Tailor are the most likely with Tailor feeding more aggressively during strong winds and rain. Queenfish are less fussy and will feed during the run in and run out tides. GT's and Kingfish may show occasionally during the day but are more likely to feed on surface after 3pm on a run in tide or during the dawn and dusk periods. Australian Salmon may or may not show up this year but they usually feed on surface during the first half of the run in tides as well. They are less fussy about low light periods and will feed on surface as long as the tide is right. Look for them around the sandbars and weedbeds where they can push the bait into shallow areas. The Horseshoe flats and the weedbeds just north of there is a classic Salmon ambush zone as is the area around the southern half of Wavebreak.
The dawn period usually yields a few Tailor, small Bigeyes and GT's around the ends and top 1/4 of the walls as can periods of strong winds and rain, just work the edges of the walls and in close to the rocks on the north wall flats with minnows first then with 20 gram twisties. Keep an eye on the sounder during this time and you may find schools of GT's, Bigeyes and Tailor sitting 50-100m out off the front of the wall and a plastic like the pearl slider on a 3/8th oz head or Squidgy Slick rig 80mm slow rolled through the school can get a fish or two. Also keep an eye on The Line out from the north and south wall and you may find schools of fish sitting on the bottom particularly on a run out tide, you can drop a heavy metal like a 30 gram twistie or 40 gram Raider down to them and slowly wound to the top might get strikes.
Using finesse plastics at the ends of the walls during run out tides is also an effective technique during the day during winter, you usually don't catch much but it is usually quality, species like Kingfish, Mackerel, Tailor and all the Trevally species are all possible. My preferred plastics are SF Whiteys, Fish Arrow Flash J and Casper Clear Powerbaits all rigged on no more than 1/8th oz heads. Simply allow for the drift and cast up so the plastic drifts gently to the bottom over your chosen spot. The Graveyard off the north wall and the South Wall Hole are both good places for this technique. You can also use it at the Elbow Hole, Canyon and the Deep Hole at the Cross Channels if fish are sitting on the bottom.
The usual heavy weighted plastics such as the Squidgy Flickbait 110 or 7" Gulp Jerkshad on 1-1.5oz heads will still catch small jewies around the tide changes in the Deep Hole, Pipeline and Tabletop off the north wall, if you are lucky you may get onto some decent size ones as well as the odd tailor, cod and GT.
Livebaiting works well particularly during the first of the run in tides in winter as the water is dirtier with larger Greenback Tailor, plenty of small to medium size jewies with the odd larger one, Giant Trevally from about 55cm up, different species of Cod and some other odd catches thrown in. Sharks can still be a problem and if you feel like chasing something big, a livebait or big flesh bait around 40cm will have you hooked up to one of these toothy critters in no time. Just make sure you fish the baits with enough lead to keep it near the bottom and away from strong tidal flows during the run in's or fish for them during the run out tides. For livies, try to get some pike around bridges and jetties using small minnows or plastics or berley up some garfish around the weedbeds with breadcrumbs or chicken pellets soaked in tuna oil, then catch them with small pieces of prawn or squid on #12 hooks. You can also go out to the bait reefs and try to get some yellowtail as well.
Luderick are a species not often chased in the seaway but there are plenty of them in there, during winter schools of 100's of fish can be found around the end of the north wall and north wavebreak wall but most rock walls hold a few. These fish can be caught on lures occasionally but are best fished with some cabbage weed under a float. Simply rig up a #8 size hook 1.5-2m underneath a float on a light leader(8lb or less) and cast it about 2 metres out from the rocks. Best times to fish for these is at the bottom half of the tides when the water is dirtier, run in or run out doesn't matter. Cabbage weed can be found on the rocks of the seaway at low tide, use caution when you are collecting it.
Night Time Options
Night time is when the Seaway and Broadwater can fish at its best during winter. Around the walls at night Tarpon are the primary target for dedicated sportfishers and all that is needed is a white or silver plastic on a 3/8th or 1/2oz head and a will to cast at the edges of the rocks until you find them which can take a while. Bigeyes, Hairtail and Jewies are also captured this way but tend to be small. For some reason tailor seem to be rare, I can only think of a couple of tailor I have caught this way at night despite the many hours spent fishing it.
Mulloway can be caught during the night using the same methods and in the same areas you fish during the day but at night is usually when the larger fish are caught. Larger soft plastics and livebaits fished around the start up and slow down of the tides both work with livebaits having the edge.
Look for schools of GT's sitting on the sandy bottom 50-100m out in front of the north wall on the runout tides at night, they are usually spread out over a fairly wide area not clustered up in one school like they do during the day. If you find this then sink plastics like the zman 2.5" curl tails or Squidgy slick rigs to the bottom and slowly work the plastic through the sitting fish. Cast, sink, wind for 2 seconds, stop for 5 seconds, wind for 2 seconds etc, it has to be s.l.o.w.
The edges of the channels leading to the seaway and deep hole areas are worth a troll with a shallow and deeper running minnows such as the flash 25, XR10 and XRD10 just after sunset for fish such as Tailor and Hairtail, good areas for this are the seaworld hole, Deep hole at the cross channels, the North East Crab Dropoff, Between Ephraim and Sovereign Islands and in the slower moving areas of the southern and northern channels.
Around the lighted bridges and jetties in the broadwater at night can yield some good fishing as well. The start of the runout seems to be the preferred time for feeding and you will find Tailor, Flathead, Bigeyes, GT's and Jewies will feed in
A winter mangrove jack
these areas. If you are very lucky you might find some surface feeding jewies in the leadup to the full moon. The best way to approach bridges is with a layered approach similar to that used around the north wall. Start with a shallow running minnows such as flash 15, 25, vision 110 or XR10 to get the fish that are feeding close to the surface then go deeper with a XRD10 or Vision 111 then a plastic like the 3" gulp Jerk shad in chart/pearl, Pearl Slider on 1/4oz heads or blade/vib lure. Concentrate on the areas with the light/dark zones first then move out to other areas. You can often get some surprise catches this way such as Mangrove Jacks, Giant Herring, Tarpon or Cod. Have a look at Sovereign and Ephraim Island Bridges, the Sunrise(Gold Coast)Bridge on the Nerang river, around Marina Mirage and any other lighted areas you can find. Area's with good tidal flow closeby to eddies are excellent night ambush spots for predators. You can also troll around these areas with a deep diving minnow.
So there is a few options for you to consider, while none of that is likely to compare to what we have seen in the last few months it should keep you busy until we hit the spring changes in September/October(my favourite time of year)