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Bouncing back into action
  |  First Published: September 2011



After a series of east coast low-pressure systems gave our area a complete hiding, the Hastings region is bouncing back.

Spring gardens will be blooming and hopefully the underwater gardens in our estuaries will also bloom and the much-depleted weed beds will start to grow to create more fish cover.

The estuary should be flathead heaven and we should see some monster lizards and heaps of smaller fish lurking in the shallows and on the edges of drop-offs.

It should be a good season for flathead and this time of year is synonymous with big fish.

Live bait, especially poddy mullet, are top of the list for big lizards. Best spots for collecting mullet will be around the flats on the north-eastern side of either of the Settlement Point bridges.

Quality flathead should be along the coal walls, around Dennis Bridge and in Limeburners Creek.

Bream will be moving back into the system although still predominantly in the lower reaches, but this is a good time to target resident fish up-river on hardbody lures.

Rawdon Island Bridge is a good starting point with deep-diving lures or blades. Don’t be surprised if you hook into the odd mulloway.

LUDERICK GREAT

It’s been a great season for luderick and quality fish should continue this month from the Hastings and Camden Haven rivers.

Best spots on the Hastings will be along the southern breakwall, in Limeburners Creek and Big Bay, with the run-in tide proving optimum.

Weed will be the best bait but peeled prawns and unweighted yabbies also account for some quality fish. I’ve even caught a few over the years on dark hardbody lures when the water is a little murky on the run-out tide.

I’ve heard stories of endless bag limits from Lake Cathie. Since being open at Easter the lake has been opened again by the council to release water built up from the floods.

Next time it’s opened it might be a good idea for Fisheries to make a few visits to make their presence felt. I don’t begrudge anyone taking home a feed, or even their bag limit, as it’s perfectly within the law.

But it’s the anglers who get their limit, take the fish home and go back to do it all again that get me. Where are these fish going?

Offshore action has been great recently, with some quality snapper caught. This month some fish could move to reefs a little farther offshore.

So far the majority of quality fish have been caught on the inside reefs with Lighthouse, Lake Cathie and Bonny Hills very popular.

THE ROCKS

September is a good time of year to spend time on the rocks. It’s a transition time and a variety of species from drummer to bream and tailor to mulloway can be on offer.

If you’re looking to tangle with drummer, head south to Dunbogan and Point Perpendicular, and Grants Head at Bonny Hills and lay out cunjevoi baits in a berley trail of bread and fish oil.

Tailor could be hit-and-miss but recently some nice fish have been caught during first and last light on pilchards and lures.

Bream anglers will do well on lightly weighted cubes of mullet or pilchards. Recently when chasing mulloway with plastics I had a hungry bream take a 5” Gulp Jerkshad rigged on a 5/0 jig head. At first I thought I’d caught a small mulloway.

Mulloway will also be on the cards, so watch the tides and choose the optimum time to target mulloway off the rocks. Live bait will be best for the bigger fish but plastics fished extremely slowly will also yield good results.

Look for spots that allow you access to submerged or raised rocks within casting distance.

POOR FORM

On a recent outing on the rocks, my mate Burky and I found that some anglers had caught a couple of wirrah cod (old boots) and a bream and left them in a rock pool with little or no chance of getting back into the ocean.

This is very poor form. Even though the old boots aren’t a preferred catch they are still fish and important to the food chain and the local ecosystem and don't deserve to die by starvation or overheating in a shallow rock pool.

They had been there for some time and were already weak so we were able to catch them and release them into the ocean.

I advise all anglers to release fish they don't want, no matter the species. All fish are important to the ecosystem and a healthy fishery means good fishing for a long time to come.

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