Quality time ahead
  |  First Published: October 2010

It’s a fantastic month to get some quality time on the water. The Winter doldrums are long gone and there should be no excuses to get out there as the water warms and the days get longer.

The estuaries will be alive with baitfish and prawns on the move. For the determined lure caster working bait concentrations with appropriate lures will result in the likes of bream, flathead, tailor and school jewfish.

Bream will be generally closer to the ocean this month, with oyster racks and rocky outcrops good areas to hunt.

On warm days around high tide, the weed flats will also be great spots to try with surface poppers and featherweight plastics.

As the tide begins to fall, the flats can really turn on some good action and don’t be surprised if a few big whiting decide to get in on the act.

It’s worth a shot this month working the deeper water with larger plastics for school jewfish and big flathead.

A quality sounder is invaluable for this style of fishing. Generally it is more important to locate bait balls on the sounder and to identify drop-offs than to be too fussed on actually seeing jewfish on the sounder.

Find the bait and stick to that area and work the lures through every likely-looking depth.

Cast up-current and try to get your lures in the zone where the current pushes into structure, rather than running parallel to it, and you will greatly increase your chances of hooking a jewie.

While the estuary action can be concentrated on the lower sections of the river, I certainly would not write off the upper reaches, either. This is also a great time to chase the elusive estuary perch.

We have had some mind-blowing sessions on EPs west of Nelligen in previous Novembers with surface-boofing perch to 46cm gorging on prawns over the weed.

The weed beds that I have found that the perch favour are deeper than those where you’d generally seek bream and whiting.

My favourite surface popping perch spot usually fires when it has 1m to 2m of water covering it, whereas if I were targeting bream and whiting the depth would be preferably less than 1m.

Again, casting up-current and working the lures with the flow will always produce a better result.


Off the rocks, another great snapper season is winding down. Plenty of good fish were taken off the stones this year.

Etienne De Celis and I decided to do a bit of a mission recently and loaded up his canoe with our rock fishing gear to do a little bit of island hopping, something we had not done for a number of years.

A late afternoon low tide and calm conditions provided the perfect scenario for our slightly risky jaunt. All went to plan and we were casting snapper baits into the depths before 3pm.

The first hit occurred the moment all the rods were set and Et battled a solid fish for close to 10 minutes. It had several spirited runs before being washed out onto a lower ledge.

The fish was a solid, fat specimen of 4kg to 5kg and a perfect start to the arvo. For the next hour we struggled to keep a bait in the water with rods loading up regularly.

I managed to pull the hooks on several solid fish and could score only a few small reds.

Et decided to change tactics with a 60lb braid outfit and some red crabs, which quickly converted to a 7kg and an 8kg brown groper and then he was seriously stretched on a blue beast well over 10kg that eventually won its freedom in the wash after almost dragging him into the water.

We rounded the session out with some average drummer and a bunch of trevally on cunjevoi and prawn baits but had to exit the island early as a storm front came through, dumping loads of rain on us.

Despite the soaked drive home, it was one of the most enjoyable fishing trips I have had in quite a long time.

Ray Smith and Dean Heycox decided on a midnight trip off the rocks for reds with the aid of a cloud-free full moon and came up trumps with five nice snapper that totalled over 15kg.

Kingfish are on the move this month and if you are fortunate enough to find them they can often be huge on the cusp of Summer.

The big fish are in spawning condition now so be mindful if you do hook a few. One big king is all I need and will provide many meals.

Squid, pike and slimy mackerel will be their preferred food at this stage of the season but yakkas will still work.

Off the rocks, 24kg tackle is the bare minimum combined with a lengthy 150lb trace. Even then you will lose more fish than you land.

One session from November 2006 still burns in my memory. It resulted in the loss of five kings all over 20kg, with two of those fish at the gaff that broke 200lb trace!

Kings of this size are without question the toughest fish off the rocks. With a big dose of luck I might get some revenge this year.

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