fish light winter bite
Brandon Gosbell with a quality snapper.

Fish light for a winter bite

fish light winter bite
A yellowbelly captured on a Damiki Backdrop.
fish light winter bite
The typical tiger squid hooked on the slack tide.
A flathead caught while trolling from a kayak.
fish light winter bite
This Hinze Dam bass hit a jerkbait.

WINTER has well and truly kicked in, with cold mornings and nippy wind, but it has been a pretty successful cold season so far, with plenty of fish caught inshore, offshore and in fresh water.

Offshore anglers who fish light are enjoying good snapper fishing on small drop-offs using 3”-4” soft plastics on light 1/6oz and 1/4oz jig heads, which gives the lure a more natural movement. Targeting 40m of water has proven the most rewarding, with by-catch of maori cod and jewfish common.

Squid are back and they seem to be in good numbers. Lately I’ve been using size 2.5 squid jigs in brighter colours, with the best time to target them the top of the tide. It’s often a very productive time to chase squid and a good thing to do while waiting for the tide to start running again to target other species. It’s beneficial to fish light for squid with lighter line and leaders.

I use a 1-3kg rod with 4-6lb leader, and when you hook a squid the trick is to not strike because you will pull the jig out of the tentacles, though you need to maintain tension so the hooks stay embedded. Serving dinner with a fresh plate of calamari never goes astray.

Flathead and bream are in good numbers thanks to the cooling water temps, with flathead caught either on drop-offs as they wait for baitfish to swim over or right up in the shallows on an incoming tide. Fishing the shallows for flathead adds a great visual aspect because you often see the fish eat your lure. One technique everyone seems to be having success with at the moment is trolling hard-bodies that dive to about 2m.

Their bib is generally long enough to bump over snags and they usually measure 50-100mm. Bream are schooling in the deep and pushing around the Seaway as they plan their yearly spawning run. Tailor are harassing baitfish all through Jumpinpin Bar and they are being caught in good numbers off the beaches on a mixture of metal slugs and pilchards. Targeting them in the breakers from a boat can be very productive but making sure you’re clear of all waves is a must because freak waves can appear out of nowhere. A watchful eye is always needed.

In the fresh water, fish are still feeding on the edges early in the morning before the sun rises and then moving into deeper schools once the sun is up. Fishing the edges with small spinnerbaits, jig spins and jerkbaits is quite productive. Targeting the schools with metal blades and surprisingly micro jigs has worked a treat. Recently I have been using the Damiki 20g Backdrop micro jig.

Using this lure offshore is very popular but in fresh water it is often overlooked. Fishing a fluttering jig in a school will either generate a reaction bite or the fish will compete for the jig. One thing that helps is using a sounder and looking for fish sitting either on the side of bait schools or stacked up and suspended.

I would definitely give the cooler mornings a chance. It’s well worth braving the cold and going fishing.

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About Darren Rama

Darren Rama

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