Estuary highlights
  |  First Published: December 2008

With the increase in water temperature, summer species like whiting, bream, flounder and flathead have been prominent in most estuary anglers’ bags.

Whiting numbers around the sand flats, especially in the lower sections of the Bottom Lake, have increased significantly. Fishos using lightly weighted yabbies and live squirt worms have fared best casting into the shallows on afternoon rising tides.

Some of the whiting are crackers with a few nudging 44cm. At that size in shallow water, they are great fun on light line and top tucker for the pan.

Farther upstream, flathead numbers have improved with fish to 70cm common. These bigger fish are responding well to larger soft plastics cast to the edges with a methodical lift-and-drop presentation provoking strikes.

School-size fish to 45cm are thick at times with bait and lure anglers catching a feed on most occasions. I’ve found if targeting the smaller models, lures up to 70mm are ample with smaller poddy mullet to 15cm ideal live baits.

A few bream and tailor may get in on the act, especially if casting lures.

If you’re after mulloway, this month is perfect but be prepared to put in the hard yards for results. Every December a few big jew are caught, mainly by switched-on anglers using fresh or live bait after dark.

Fishing the deeper section on the southern side of the basin entrance is the go.

The pelagic action offshore has already started with yellowfin tuna to 40kg and albacore caught, mostly from the 70-fathom line outwards.

This can change, depending on water temperature, current and bait activity. Having a look at the water temperature charts before heading out can save you a lot of time and fuel if you know already where the warmer water is. That’s not to say you’re guaranteed tuna, but it’s giving you a much better chance of success.

Trolling skirted lures up to 8” and bibbed minnows is the best method to target these speedsters early in the season.

Later in the month, striped marlin are also on the cards and most of these fish will be found along the 100-fathom line. Slow-trolled live baits or switch-baiting are the preferred methods.


Closer to shore, the usual bottom dwellers will be abundant with sand and tiger flathead numbers increasing. Fishing in 30m to 35m with striped tuna or mackerel fillets should produce quality flatties.

Expect a few snapper, morwong, pigfish and kingfish on the local reefs with Horseshoe, Long and Turingal the better ones to try.

On the beaches, whiting, bream and yellow-eye mullet will be on the chew with live beach worms the gun bait in the deeper gutters just past the shore dump. Lighter tackle will produce better bags.

Almost all beaches will hold fish but it does pay to have a look around and find a suitable gutter. It takes a little bit of extra effort but the rewards will make it worthwhile.

At present the northern end of North Tura has a nice gutter, but they are changing all the time with the flatter seas.

A few salmon and tailor should also make the suds home so a whole pilchard rigged on ganged hooks could see a fish or two.

Anglers fishing the stones for pelagics like salmon, kingfish, striped tuna and bonito should be getting excited because December is traditionally the start of the spin season.

Lures from 15g to 60g will catch fish, but try to match the size of lure to the baitfish present for more consistent results.

Those live-baiting the rocks with yellowtail or slimy mackerel will have a more realistic chance of hooking a quality kingfish. Every season a few hoodlums are hooked with the ledge at Tura Head definitely the pick.

If you’re after a feed, the washes will still hold blackfish, drummer and bream though you may have to move around a bit to locate them.

Fresh bait like prawns and cunjevoi used with a little burley should see some quality action. Short Point would be the best spot to try.

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