Port flatties begin to stir
  |  First Published: September 2011

Thank heavens it’s Spring! It certainly was a wild and wet Winter but the abundant rain we received should improve things, especially in the estuary.

I love nothing better than those first warm days, it’s like your mind defrosts and the first thing that comes to my mind is flathead. I have a fetish for targeting duskies, especially on soft plastics, and I will devote the majority of my fishing days for the next three months whipping shads and paddletails in water ranging from knee-deep to 5m drop-offs.

The water is still a little chilly and you will find that at the beginning of September most flathead will seek warmth on the shallow flats at high tide.

Areas that usually fire at this time include the upper reaches of Tilligerry Creek and the Karuah River, especially behind the oyster racks on a falling tide.

Your best option is casting paddletail soft plastics on 1/8oz jig heads and bouncing them along the bottom, although if the flatties are lazy then working a shallow-running hard body such as a Bomber 14a will soon get a reaction.

There are some great land-based options as well but you have to fish early, before the boat traffic is on the water. Corlette Beach next to the Anchorage Marina is a great early morning spot and has plenty of weed beds and sand flats.

Also try Nelson Bay, Shoal Bay and Little Beach; all these areas hold flathead.

Of course, don’t forget the good old brined pilchard rigged on 4/0 gangs – this deadly method still works.


The rain has certainly changed things as far as the bream are concerned.

September is always great to fish in the mid-estuary section but with the Bay still clearing, your best bet is from Soldiers Point to Nelson Bay.

Live pink nippers, pumped from the sand flats and allowed to drift down un-weighted along the rock walls and oyster racks, will bring undone those larger, wary fish. If you add a fluorocarbon leader of 8lbs or less, you will further increase your hook-up rate.

Although not prime time, lure fishers will start thinking surface and if we get some of those warmer days there should be a reasonable late afternoon bite.

Beach fishing is steady during September and the usual species will be on the cards. Towards the end of the month I will start fishing the night tides in the hope of the odd jewie.

Already the dirty water from the Hunter River has pushed a few school fish onto Stockton Beach, with the occasional larger fish turning up.

Fresh bait is the key for beach jew, with tailor fillets and squid my favourites.

A few whiting can be found in the shallower gutters and Fingal Spit on high tide is a great location. Make sure you arm yourself with some live tube worms for greater success.

Salmon are still along all beaches and will probably be thick until November. These fish are the best fun you will have on your light spin outfit.

Rock fishing is still much the same as last month, with plenty of luderick and drummer in the washes and early morning spinning for tailor and kingfish around One Mile Point, Sunny Corner and Boat Harbour.

If you’re keen for a feed then I suggest taking a squid jig. With the vast range of Japanese squid jigs on the market the squid don’t have a chance and we get a great feed.


With stable weather throughout Spring, offshore fishing is a great option.

Around the islands, wash fishing can be rewarding and snapper will be under the whitewater ready to pounce on a floating pilchard or garfish and you have the chance of nailing some quality tailor and kingies. Big Island and Little Island are favourites.

The reefs around Broughton Island have been fishing reasonably well and you will always pick up a mixed bag of snapper and morwong and it’s always a good idea to drift between 40m and 50m for those ever-popular sand flathead.

Yellowfin tuna and the odd albacore can be found on the temperature breaks over the continental shelf with afternoon cubing sessions the best way to find the tuna.

Keep an eye on your sounder and look for arches and bait anywhere from 120m to the surface and start getting those cubes in the water.

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