I’m looking out my window right now and you know what? What I see does not scream “go fishing!” The skies are flooded with grey and the ground is flooded with rain. Trees toss and turn in their stormy nightmares, terrorized by the almost cyclonic winds.
But winter does not have to be all doom and gloom. There are in many great species of fish that you can chase in the winter time with good success rates.
In fact some of my best ever sessions with my old man and his good mate and Western Angler columnist, Darryl Hitchen have been of Fremantle or inside the bay at Jurien Bay where we are fortunate to have a holiday home. Jurien offers up some great opportunities during winter with big plump skipjacks nudging 50cm and deck thumping pinkies up to 10kg’s.
Jurien inside tends to work better after a big blow or whilst the swell is still up. One of our favourite inside spots was only found many years ago simply because we could not, or should I say did not attempt to get out as the swell was right up at around 5 metres. Too risky to say the least!
On that particular day and many days since we have simply located some decent structure and employed the old anchor, burley and floater technique, which for hungry pinkies or big skippy generally never fails.
I have since progressed onto my preferred method of flicking soft plastics and micro jigging with some success but I must say the old man and Daz ,are pretty consistent with the burley and floater technique!
Fremantle can also offer similar opportunities with many offshore structure holding good skippy, pinkies and sambos falling to the same methods.
Probably the most well known winter species would be the storm chasing snapper. When those fronts come through and bash the ocean around churning everything up pink snapper have been known to take shelter around inshore reefs or wrecks and often congregate around a lot of the metro rock walls and groins. This makes them the perfect table/sport fish for metro anglers to chase in the winter time as they are often accessible by land or boat. Like I mentioned before, the large storms often churn everything up and bring the Snapper schools within casting range from the rock groins. More often than not high winds and big swells accompany these occurrences so caution must be taken when fishing these potentially traitorous areas. The Crew Saver manually inflatable life jacket or “Fisherman’s Safety Vest” as it is commonly referred to is a must have item for this style of fishing.
In high winds, light line lure casting often becomes very hard work. For this reason, relatively heavier gear will be necessary to cast the sinkers needed to get a bait out far enough. Generally 30-50lb gear will be appropriate as you can run into some bigger fish every now and then however the size of the gear used would depend on the weight one will be casting. Lightly weighted mulie is relatively unbeatable in terms of baits but like mentioned the winds often make light weighted rigs hard to use. My advice would be go as light as the conditions will allow you to go as lighter weights means bait appears more natural.
If you have the option, burley is never going to hurt and it can be the difference between fish and no fish. Getting as much smell and blood in the water, as nasty as it sounds, can definitely increase your catch rate.
The same goes for boat fishing however the best part is you don’t always have to wait for storms to bring the fish in within casting distance. Inside Cockburn Sound and along inshore reef structure Snapper will congregate during the winter time. In this situation other methods of catching them become available. In my opinion, the best way to target these Snapper would be with a ‘double pronged attack’. This involves bait, burley and lures.
An echo-sounder is a relatively necessary item to successfully complete this double pronged attack. A GPS can be used to locate areas of structure through looking at contour lines or markings of reef and then once over this ground, an echo-sounder can be used to locate either the best areas of structure to fish, or the fish themselves. Once either of these things has been located it is time to anchor and burley.
A good burley trail is the key to getting the fish fired up and around the boat. Once you get fish on the chew you can take advantage and begin hooking them on other methods. To begin with I would throw two unweighted mulies out the back of the boat over the ground I am fishing and float them back in the burley trail. Those rods then sit in road holders and soft plastics can be drifted down and twitched around.
Skipjack trevally, also known as silver trevally or more commonly skippy, are another species that thrive in the winter time and can be caught using very similar methods to pink snapper. In fact generally the methods are so similar that if you come across one you have a good chance of coming across the other. Skipjack are primarily a small fish but can grow up to a meter long, however anything above forty centimeters is considered a good fish.
One of my favourite methods of catching skippy involves a similar anchor and burley method however this time the weapons of use are micro jigs and light line. My favourite jig to use are the tiny Halco twisties in the <10g range. Once skippy are buzzing around the boat through the burley trail jigging these lures in the same area is an awesome method of catching skippy. Pound for pound skippy are one of the hardest fighting fish in the ocean so on light gear they can be wicked fun.
Skippy can also be chased with bait. Bigger fish will hit mulies but white bait are probably more appropriate. Triple gangs in 2/0 and 3/0 sizes are the ideal hooks.
If you have any questions or queries regarding anything I’ve mentioned or want to know a bit more about chasing fish in the winter time hit me up with an email at