Live-bait lucky dip
  |  First Published: April 2011

As our seasons roll over and the cooler weather takes hold, the coastal rock platforms will be dotted with hopeful anglers chasing pelagic fish on live baits.

The prize of the Easter period has to be the longtail tuna with cobia, kings and the door prize of sharks the other candidates for the live-bait lucky dip.

Many anglers carry their live bait into their desired location and replenish stocks on site. The risk is that the bait on site won't cooperate but generally if the yellowtail and slimies aren't around, the sea gar can be tempted with a fine stream of bread berley.

The long hours between runs can be filled with a bit of spinning or bait fishing for tailor, pigs, groper and bream, with silver trevally and leatherjackets a chance around the berley trail.

The main areas for live-baiting are Charlottes Head, Flat Rock and Cape Hawke (north of the sanctuary zone, of course) and Bennetts Head.

While Bennetts doesn't have the deepest water, large pelagic fish do cruise the wash and the general rock fishing is also very good.

My pick of the spots if you want to do some serious early season pig fishing would be Bennetts. You can drift a live bait out wide and prawn baits in the wash at the same time.

Between the headlands, the beaches have been fishing very well with reports of good whiting, dart and an early run of biggish bream.

Live worms should still be available from boatsheds and tackle shops or you can pull your own from the beach on a receding tide.

Late afternoon or early morning on a rising tide is best for fishing but the daylight hours can produce good bags of whiting if you can locate a decent gutter formation.


In Wallis Lake there are plenty of pan-size flathead in the lower channels and along the flats.

Late spawning females have their entourage of smaller males tending them and both genders are willing to pounce on a drifted live yabby or mullet or a gang-rigged pilchard.

The more active approach is certainly a 5” Gulp Jerk Shad or Pogy on a 1/4oz to 1/2oz jig head but either method along the channel edges will work.

The sand bar directly out from the Tuncurry boat ramp is worth a look with lures for flathead or bait for the scattered whiting.

For those wanting fresh garfish for the table or bait, there is no better time to collect them than now.

There are good numbers around the lake and a little berley while at anchor on the edge of a current line or eddy will have the pointy-beaks in range in no time.

Along with the gar will be pesky undersized bream and sand mullet. The mullet can be frozen down for bream bait through Winter while the garfish are excellent flesh baits from the beaches and rocks for the tailor and salmon.

Surface action up the rivers and along lake edges is still on with good-sized bream available.

Lures such as Stiffy Poppers and SugaPens are great for tempting the bream out from the tight cover of the snags and undercut banks.

Often the strike will come very close to cover so accurate and close casting is necessary to maximise the fishing opportunities.

With colour in the water after rain, opt for darker lures and those with rattles if available.

Blue swimmer crabs will be thinning out from this month but patience and well-placed witches’ hats around the weed fringes will turn results.

Be mindful that setting crab pots and witches’ hats in tidal channels isn't allowed, so ensure they are set in the lake proper. This will also eliminate tidal drift of your nets and possible loss or obstacles to boat traffic.

There is a chance at a mud crab or two up the rivers and the Wallamba River would be my pick of the tributaries.

With the closed season for bass creeping up on us, it's time to chase the freshwater favourites if you haven't had a go this season.

The rivers have not been kind with regular freshes but even in dirty water the bass will hammer a bright, flashy spinnerbait or a rattle-laden hardbody.

Plastics are a little harder to fish due to the loss of water clarity but inserting a glass rattle into the plastic will help if you are really keen on fishing soft.

I hope everyone enjoys Easter and the remaining mild weather before the inevitable cold snap reminds us Winter is coming.

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