I find it hard these days to be inspired enough to pencil an article at this time of the year; I once was of the opinion that winter sucks especially in the early days of my Soft Plastic fishing. In those days the fishing in my mind was hard, fish were few and far between and as for the conditions, well “Bloody Cold” more so if you live in the Southern end of the country like me.
As time went on though I begun to discover techniques and Soft Plastic types that had a real winter water appeal, there were more Calm but cool days and if you were like me a Corio Bay/Port Phillip Bay and Surf Coast Tragic then this was great news. Over the last decade or two I’ve heard comments like fisherman putting there tackle away for the Winter or lay-up insurance where you lock your Boat in the Garage or storage and just wait for the next great fishing day ahead, this doesn’t have to be the way, there is a fishery in Winter and a damn good one at that.
In this Jigman Special I want to try and help you better understand Soft Plastic Fishing in the Winter Months and try to improve your catch while at it.
Corio Bay is a great place in Winter to Fish, Big Snapper are a common catch and thumping Whiting that are, and never really have been a Soft Plastic target at any time of the year, especially in Winter. It doesn’t stop there though also on the list of target species are Silver Trevally, Snotty Trevalla, Salmon and of course my Fav the Flathead. For the most part Flathead in June through to September tend to be more commonly caught in Waters between 18 and 25 feet of Water but in the late afternoon on a nice calm sunny day the water temp can rise in the shallow by a couple of degrees bringing fish like Flathead and Salmon on the chew. A well placed cast can make a difference in my case in Corio bay its important to fish up high lets say 8 to 10 feet of Water but in the scenario that involves a deep drop off running down to 20 odd feet then this is what I call a prime target area, as we (pro-staffer Paul and I) understand from our years of fishing in these condition we found that its important to have these two depths adjoining each other, experience says that most of the Flathead we are targeting will travel in the deeper water and in the late afternoon when the shallow waters warm, will move up onto the edges where shallow and deep drop offs meet but they will not travel over shallower water to get there, it appears that the feed corridor and path ways are the deeper water believe this is due to the crystal clear water conditions. Whiting on the other hand will spread themselves over all depths but the best concentrations of fish will be over shallower weed covered areas averaging about 10 feet of water, see a pattern yet!
Targeting on Soft Plastics is where the stuff gets easier, that’s right easier. I always start with finer pattern when choosing my Plastics small 3 inch or 4 inch Worm or Minnow Soft Plastics will do the job, for me I try to match the hatch as they say, use Soft Plastics that will best represent the Bait that reside where you are fishing, at the time it may be a small 3 inch Pilchard Or Anchovy as for Worm Pattern Plastics try and copy what may exist on the bottom, I like to match the sand in color a beige color like Pumpkinseed is the best place to start in my opinion, as for the action be sure to get a Soft plastic that works at slow retrieve speeds, at the Jigman you will be able to purchase these Soft Plastics on our site.
Retrieve action is important more so when the water temps are cold, its ok in the Summer Months when the Water temps are in the low 20’s most Fish will feed with vigor but as the temperatures get colder like us the fish become more lethargic this means the same twitching techniques you my have used in February will be less affective in July, so slow it down, that’s right slower. Its human nature to give it to the Jig just like you see online or on TV fishing shows but this is not the case and although it does have its day its not the most productive action to apply. For me its all about slow lifts and small twitches of the rod not moving the Soft Plastic more than Half a meter, if a fish thinks that getting to your Plastic is to much hard work he will just lay there and wait for the next bait fish. You may have noticed I have only touched on two of the species out of the six I started with so lets impart some more experiences. By far the best Silver Trevally Fishery is Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsular, fast moving gin clear water that slows at the top of the tide provides some of the most amazing Silver fishing in the Southern half of the country, small 2 ½ inch Grubs with a tinge of Green in them prove dynamite time and time again, colors like Water Mellon and Motor Oil are a great starting Plastic in these situations, but you need to keep the Jig Heads Smaller, I recommend using a Jig Man 1/4oz Jig Head in a size #1 Hook, you need it on the bottom that’s why the weight is bigger on the small hook size. Australian Salmon are a common catch here in the Bay but for me they are a by-catch why targeting other species lots of fun but there is no real expertise needed to catch a few for fun. Snotties are a good one; they love a Pumpkinseed worm as do whiting. Snotties like a lite weight Jig Head that constantly moves very slowly like a Jig Man 3/32 Worm nose Jig Head in a size 2 hook, most Snotties congregate around jetty’s and structures in thick schools and more commonly than not found in the top 2/3rds of the Water column. Lastly the Winter Red (Snapper) Big Jig Heads 3/0 – 4/0 Hooks even 5/0 for the Land base Fisho fish the deeper waters if you’re in a boat there are a few things to look for. If on your Sounder there are boomerang looking arches spread well apart, hang on its fish time, drop a big Jig head lets say a 5/16oz Worm nose with a 4/0 hook size will do the job you want your Plastics rocketing past the fish a good speed to induce a strike, if the case is the fish are tightly packed then you have to annoy the crap out of them until you can force a strike, don’t worry they will bite if your using the right plastic and its rigged straight and looks natural, I like pumpkinseed worms hands down over everything else but there are colors that will trigger the Snapper into a feed frenzy like pilchard or whiting colors.
I have a bucket load more Locations around the Geelong region to write about and in time you will see me pencil an article for them also but I would like to understand that you can and should use these same Plastics and Techniques where ever you fish they are proven ways of catching fish in a hard fishery and they may be the difference between catching fish or not.
I hope I have been able to help you get a few winter fish or at least inspire you to fish in the cooler months of the year. Over the coming season you will more articles, tutorial videos and our new master class show is all available for free if you are a part of the Jig Man family keep looking at the Jig Man site and checkout our You tube and Facebook page to see what’s coming next.