Fishing in Winter: Our Top 5 Tips & Tricks

kid holding a fish

Summer might be the season synonymous with outdoor adventures, but winter is no barrier to avid anglers.

The cooler months in Sydney usually mean calmer waters and pretty predictable weather patterns, so fishing in the winter is not too difficult to do.

You just have to adapt your habits, like knowing where to go, what species to target, the best bait to use, what to wear for long days out on the water, and what you can cook when you bring your catch of the day back home.

Read on for our 5 favourite fishing tips for winter fishing in Sydney

1. Best Winter Fishing Spots Sydney

Winter is actually a good time of the year to go fishing. It’s less crowded out on the water, so there’s less competition and more space. There’s not much algae growth or runoff from rain either, which means the waters are often clearer.

Sydney’s coastline is dotted with rock platforms like North Curl Curl and Long Reef, and they offer access to a variety of big fish species. Sydney Harbour specifically is the perfect place to drop a line in winter, with popular spots including Watsons Bay and Middle Head. Along the Northern Beaches, Narrabeen Beach, Palm Beach, and Dee Why Beach are also favourites with locals.

Botany Bay offers fantastic fishing opportunities, with abundant areas around the entrance, the oil wharf, and Bare Island. Beaches and bays in Pittwater are favoured, whilst Wisemans Ferry, Bar Point, and Brooklyn are good areas to try on the Hawkesbury River.

The Port Hacking estuary, Gunnamatta Bay and the various channels throughout the system are worth exploring too.

2. Best Fish to Catch in Winter

Fish are fast swimmers in the warmer months and sluggish in cold water, where they tend to linger in groups in deep water. This can make it easier to target species that are known to feed in winter in preparation for the spawning season.

Snapper and bream fall into this category. Snapper migrate close to shore, whilst yellowfin bream and black bream are often found around rocky structures, making them accessible to both land-based and boat anglers alike.

Kingfish are also very active during winter, feeding on squid and pilchards, and flathead are also around in the shallow waters waiting for small prey.

Other common winter species of fish include Australian salmon, bluefin tuna, drummer, groper, luderick, silver trevally, tailor, and whiting.

3. Best Fishing Bait to Use in Winter

Winter fishing and cold water fishing require a new approach to bait selection. As the water temperature drops, cold-blooded fish adjust to the conditions by reducing their activity levels and only feeding a few times a week.

To lure them in then, it’s important to be strategic about your bait choices. Artificial baits that zip through the water risk putting them off. This is why it’s best to opt for live bait when possible.

Live baits will have the same pace as the fish, and therefore be the most effective option. Cold water fish are particularly keen on pilchards for their oily flavour, squid due to their attractive texture and scent, and peeled prawns because they are a natural food source for most species. Beach worms and cuttlefish are also great as bait.

If you can’t get your hands on any fresh bait, soft plastics should do the trick too. Soft plastic lures in natural colours and small sizes can mimic the movement of injured baitfish or crustaceans, so they are inviting to predatory fish. You can also use ganged hooks, jigs, stemmed floats, or troll with skirted lures.

4. Must-Have Cold Weather Fishing Gear

Much like the rest of the country, the winter months in and around Sydney are generally quite mild. That being said, out on the bays it can get pretty chilly, wet, and windy.

This is why it’s so important to wear warm gear (plus spares) and pack the right equipment when cold weather fishing because there’s nothing worse than being uncomfortable for hours on end. Before heading out and putting on your life jacket, layer up!

Wearing tops and jumpers with fleece linings is an easy way to keep insulated, with a windproof and/or waterproof jacket over the top and gloves. For your bottom half, try pants made predominately from nylon, as they are light, breathable and most importantly, moisture-wicking. For your feet, we recommend thick, thermal socks and deck boots or gumboots.

Accessory-wise, a good wide-brim hat, sunglasses and sunscreen will stop you from getting burnt even in cloudy conditions (the glare from the water is strong). For your fishing specifically, make sure you have all the right rods and reels, lures, lines, and tackle with you. Emergency supplies like a first aid kit, phone chargers and flares are a must too.

5. Tasty Winter Fish Recipes

So, you’ve spent a lot of time on the water and caught some fish. What now? Hearty, warming meals are on the dinner menu in the cooler months, and that includes winter fish dishes.

Baked potatoes are a favourite for their comforting flavour. For that reason, you must try potato au gratin. Using freshly caught fish like groper, layer and season it with thinly sliced potatoes in a baking dish (with a cream and garlic mix on top) and bake it in the oven until golden.

Snapper is great for a Thai-style fish curry. Cook it with coconut milk, onions, curry paste, lime juice, and fish sauce and serve it over rice. If you snagged salmon, cook it on the stove and then in the oven to get a crispy skin alongside seasonal roasted vegetables like carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, onions, and broccoli.

A fish pie is another classic winter fish feast, and flathead is perfect for pies because it has nice white fillets. The same goes for trevally chunks, which lend themselves nicely to fish soups. Add it to a broth of stock, diced carrots, celery, tomatoes and onions, garlic and a dash of white wine.

Contact us for more winter fishing tips or to book a deep sea fishing charter today!

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Sydney Blocked DrainsSydney Blocked Drains
10:19 17 Feb 23
We have been on Wahoo Charters 3 times now and have gone home with more fish than we could have ever dreamed of.George and the crew are friendly, knowledgeable and funny!This last time we bagged 4 kings over 1 meter.Always a good time on their boats.Thanks boys!
Alex HuntingtonAlex Huntington
08:34 10 Jan 22
Tight lines all day. All the boiz got to winch in a few 1m+ Kingies each.
Tanvir KhanTanvir Khan
04:53 29 Dec 20
We went out on a charter today and whilst the weather was against us, Sev and Josh did everything they could to get us on to the fish. I highly recommend George and his team for your next fishing charter. We will be back.
Merryzz V2 AccMerryzz V2 Acc
02:15 02 Apr 20
Had a awesome time with George out bottom bashing, he was very knowledgeable and experienced in his trade. Definitely planing on going out with wahoo charters again, had a great day and was for myself the first time deep sea fishing and i loved every bit of it. Really recommend to use this company!
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