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New life in the estuaries
  |  First Published: October 2011



With the increasing warmth and lengthening days, getting on the water will be easier and motivation levels will begin to rise.

Estuaries will show a noticeable increase is fish activity as the sun’s warmth quickly breathes life into the shallow bays and creeks.

Big flathead, whiting and bream will soon be actively hunting baitfish and a lure that represents the bait encountered in a given area will always produce some action.

This may mean a lightly weighted soft plastic minnow to mimic whitebait, a surface lure to replicate a fleeing prawn or a larger shad to match a poddy mullet.

Using polarised sunglasses will help identify what the fish might be feeding on, giving you an idea of what lure to tie on.

Don’t get too hung up on actually seeing big fish to cast to, just fish confidently and work your lure slowly and thoughtfully through all structure and the bites will come.

Concentration is the key to good lure fishing. Watching your line intently throughout every retrieve and being ready to strike in the blink of an eye will ensure bites equate to fish on the deck.

Salmon off the beaches have been thick as fleas on a stray dog, with fish likely even in the middle of the day if the tide is rising to high.

The main beach at Durras, South Broulee down to Moruya breakwall and the beaches around Potato Point have all provided champagne fishing with metal lures. Some days the fish have been hanging too far out in the gutters for my kids to be able to cast far enough to reach them so I simply cast for them and pass the rod back.

By the time I have cast all three outfits, it is time to cast the first one again, unless they get a hook-up. It is pretty exhausting work sometimes!

It is a fantastic scene watching kids dealing with a trio of gyrating, jumping salmon on a nice sunny day on the beach, something I never grow tired of.

REDS ON ROCKS

Off the rocks, snapper are still the big draw card with fish to 6kg available.

The cuttlefish run will be over but the fish will still be around for the rest of the month for those keen to hurl a bait or soft plastic in the hope of snaring one of the best looking and tasting fish in the sea.

The best tip I can offer for snapper off the rocks is to plan your fishing around a low or high tide early in the morning or late in the afternoon. They definitely bite more freely under low light conditions.

Dean Heycox and Ray Smith have been fishing hard this season off the rocks, well into the night and at times through until sunrise. They have been well rewarded with plenty of reds of 4kg and better, not to mention some thumping big gummy sharks.

Snapper were biting so well some weekends that the boat ramp cleaning tables were shoulder to shoulder, with seemingly everyone filleting hauls of big snapper.

The jewfish have been pretty quiet for a while now but I reckon their numbers will increase as the water temps rise late in the month.

Traditionally this month signals the start of some really big specimens showing up and they are often taken from the bridges, breakwalls and from the beaches. There’s a realistic chance of a 30kg fish.

OFFSHORE

Offshore, the tuna have gone quiet with just small albacore and the odd yellowfin taking lures.

Bad weather over consecutive weekends hasn’t helped and not too many crews have bothered heading wide. The sea surface temperature has still been OK with 17° to 19° water so there should be no reason why the fish aren’t there.

Striped tuna have been conspicuous in their absence for quite a while now, with just the odd one occasionally hitting lures, unlike the plagues of them that were around when the marlin water was here.

Last season there was some sensational inshore striped tuna action, providing light-spin Nirvana.

Plenty of solid stripies were even captured off the rocks. Let’s hope they show again soon because they are a vital game fish link and a lot of fun on light spin tackle. Not to mention their usefulness as a bream and snapper bait.

Divers have been sighting some big schools of kingfish averaging 8kg balling up yellowtail and other baitfish.

They have been right in close to the rocks but fishos have been largely unaware of their presence, so nobody has been targeting them. It could pay real dividends to deploy a live bait under a balloon while snapper fishing, even if this month is considered out of season for kingfish.

Back in August mate Anthony Stokman took his charter vessel TopCat for the long haul up to Sydney for a much-needed facelift. By the time you read this, the boat will have received all new inner flotation, new flooring, a livewell and revised instrumentation. I can’t wait to see how the upgrades turns out.

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