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Light at the end of the tunnel
  |  First Published: September 2011



At last, after such a brutal few months of rain, wind and freezing temperatures, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Although there are no miracles about to happen this month, at least most of those icy mornings are well behind us.

The earlier stages of Spring can still be very tough around here but one species that will be kicking into gear is the dusky flathead.

Plenty of flatties live in our lakes, Brisbane Water and the bottom end of Lake Macquarie and although they’re by no means difficult fish to catch, it may take another few weeks before they become more active.

The first part of your September flathead plan is to work out where you’re going to try to find them. They are the type of fish that can and do turn up anywhere, from the upper reaches of small creeks right down to the mouth and out along the surf beaches. However, there are spots on the Central Coast that are consistently reliable for flathead.

Around Brisbane Water, try the main channel that runs through Woy Woy, the bridges at Woy Woy, Ettalong Beach, the channels around Saratoga and Davistown and around the mouths of Erina and Narara creeks.

In the lakes, try The Entrance, especially the bridge at night, Toukley bridge (also at night) and around the mouths of Wyong, Ourimbah and Wallarah creeks.

In lower Lake Macquarie, Chain Valley Bay, Wyee Point and the Nords Wharf area are well worth looking at.

BAIT IS BEST

At this time of year I would recommend using baits such as whitebait or thin strips of fresh tailor or mullet if you simply want to catch a feed of flathead. While the water is still cool they don’t respond to lures quite as well as they will in another month or so.

If, however, you’re like me and prefer to cast lures, stick with enticing plastics that have scent or look pretty good. That means 4” or 5” Gulps, Atomic Prongs, 4” Berkley PowerBaits and simple 3” grub tails in white or bright green. Trust me on that!

We have a lot of weed in our waterways, so try to concentrate your efforts along the edges where weed beds meet clear sand.

Around lower Lake Macquarie that often means about 50m to 70m from the shore in about 2m of water.

In Tuggerah Lakes and Brisbane Water, the weed is much more variable and scattered, so just try to get lures or baits reasonably close to the weeds without fouling up too much.

Early morning, later in the afternoon or at night around the street lights are the best times to target September flathead.

BREAM

Bream have been kicking into gear over the past month. I’ve latched onto plenty of good models using Maria jerkbait hardbodies retrieved very slowly, with long pauses.

Metal blades and small Gulps will still be working well, though. The bream will take a surface lure this month but realistically, you’re better off waiting until next month before the water is warm enough for surface lures to be really effective.

Baits have been catching some good bream around The Entrance and some nice whiting have fallen to bloodworms, beachworms and Berkley Gulp worms.

As for whiting on surface lures, the same warm-water theory applies so give it at least another month to six weeks before seriously trying to pin a few on the surface.

Blackfish have been biting reasonably well in the estuaries and off the rocks. They’ll still be worth chasing at The Entrance, Woy Woy and a few other spots this month but they can become a bit fastidious at this stage of the season.

This means you may have to try out a few different types of weed to see what they’ll take.

If at all possible, try some of that soft, brown fluffy stuff that often grows around the edges of the lakes. The better stuff is a rich, dark brown and you’ll notice small bugs hopping around in it. The blackfish normally love this type of weed.

Off the rocks, though, they aren’t so fussy and they shouldn’t refuse the good old green cabbage.

Although all the big swells this Winter have made rock fishing difficult, there have been quite a few good drummer caught. They’ll certainly be worth chasing again this month, when sea conditions allow.

If you haven’t tried the area, head up around the rocks at Snapper Point, Frazer Park and the southern side of Catherine Hill Bay. There are plenty of big drummer in that part of the world.

OFFSHORE TOUGH

Offshore fishing can be extremely difficult at this time of year. Once again, the big seas and strong winds make it hard enough just to get out there in the first place.

Once you’re out there then it may also be hard to scrape up a feed of fish because the water is often cold and lifeless.

However, a reasonable sprinkling of snapper has been caught in depths from 10m to 40m, along with a few trevally, morwong and jackets.

Out wider, kings and bonito are the main species to chase this month.

But, as is usually the case, take plenty of jigs with you because those sharks, seals and leatherjackets are always a problem.

Of course, I can’t avoid mentioning salmon this month. There will be plenty of them around, especially along the beaches.

So get your light gear out and try casting small white metal lures or soft plastics when the seas are calm enough. It’s common to encounter big patches of them in close early in the morning or later in the afternoon, more so as the tide is rising.

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