Flatties in full swing
  |  First Published: December 2008

Let me firstly wish every reader a safe and happy Christmas and for those lucky enough to be travelling to the beautifulMid North Coast, welcome to the best part of the coast.

With some luck the flathead will be in full swing and willing to take live baits and lures along the edges of weed and channel drop-offs.

Some of the best flathead action can be had by wading the shallows and casting a variety of lures. The sandy strip running up the southern side of Tern Island is popular with wading anglers and is a great spot to prospect for a lazy big flathead or two.

A rising tide is good and provides some depth over the weedy areas along the back of the Island.

The movement of whiting onto the nearby beaches should increase from now, with early reports of whiting, dart and bream in the gutters – if you can find the gutters. The formation dynamics of the beaches mean it is difficult to pinpoint the exact locations in the pages of any magazine but Nine Mile is a great spot to start.

Beach driving is permitted but you will need a permit to do so and remember to observe all the access rules and restrictions.

Once you find a gutter or two, it will be worth an afternoon or morning session with pilchards, gars or lures for a chopper tailor. The size of the tailor has increased a little with fish of 35cm around and bigger fish always a possibility.

Some small flathead are appearing on the beaches and a jewfish on live beach worms is an option open to those willing to put in a bit extra time on the sand on a balmy evening.


Surface-lure bites from bream and whiting in the estuary are getting easier to find. The warming water has encouraged the fish up into the tributaries and right through the lower lake around the channels and available structure.

There are any number of poppers and surface lures on the market and those in the 35cmm to 65mm range are what you want, with 50mm being the most popular among the fish and anglers.

The idea is to create some excitement like a skipping prawn on the surface, so a quick, stabbing skitter-and-pause action is great.

Target areas and edges of weed or channel drop-offs and don’t forget the lone post. Often posts sitting out in the middle of nowhere, like the prawn pegs, are the only structure the fish have to relate to in the area.

Talking of prawns, Breckenridge Channel and parts around the lake will be filled with the bobbing of gas lights and fluoro lights at Christmas leading up to the dark on December 27.

The Winter weather and good rainfall has helped produce a healthy stock of prawns for those willing to brave the late nights and early mornings required.

There are plenty of blue swimmer crabs moving during the evening run-out tide but you need to be quick and have a separate container for the crabs.

If you want more crabs than prawns, anchor close to or wade the sand islands up from the bridge. Little Tern Island can produce a bag of swimmers at times but too much wind chop can reduce visibility.

A word of warning for anyone wanting to set witches’ hats or crab pots around the lake: There are restrictions on the locations of these pots. Basically, between the bridge and Wallis Island and up the Wallamba River proper is a no-go zone due to the boat traffic and the strength of the tidal run.

Besides, the best of the crabbing is in the lake basin beyond The Step and around the western edge of Wallis Island.

Some big bream have been accumulating around the Coomba Park area and as the cockle weed develops, the bream fishing will get better. Pipers Bay is also producing some good fish over the weedy flats.

Bream and flathead around the oyster racks are Summer regulars and while the bream have been patchy, their size is good. The snags and racks further up into the Coolongolook and Wang Wauk arm of the lake are worth a look later in the month.

Remember, there are plenty of big female flathead around from now and they should be handled gently and returned to the water if you care about future stocks in our estuaries.

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