Dreams of a whiting Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2011

With the number of quality fish caught over Spring, it is shaping up to be a Whiting Christmas on Port Macquarie’s estuaries.

Recently I had an afternoon session at Lake Cathie walking the flats and the fish were just about everywhere. You could see them moving over the flats and then half an hour before dark, someone flicked the switch and the whiting were on.

I caught around 30 fish, taking home 14 quality whiting and released some good ones as well. Some of them absolutely monstered the lures and one fish decided it would keep one!

I use a pencil-style surface lure on 2lb braid with an 8lb leader. Using a light 7’ rod with a fast taper, I make long casts over the flats and as soon as the lure hits the water I get the lure working and splashing as much as possible.

This gets any the attention of prospective takers, and then I settle into a fast retrieve with regular twitches of the rod to get the lure bucking and spitting water.

About 98% of the time whiting track behind the lure and once I see them I keep the lure moving to entice the strike.

The other 2% of the time they’ll take it from beneath or from the side they’ll simply suck it down and you’re on.

If I get a follower and no hook-up I like to make five more casts in the same area and generally I’ll get one. If not, I turn 45° and cast in another direction for a few minutes before going back to the initial spot. This is normally enough time to let them settle and get them back on the chew.

This is a great means of getting a good feed and some excellent warm weather fishing fun.

Flats in the Hasting and Camden Haven rivers also produce. I’ve found when fishing from a boat or kayak, rather than walking, that I need to make casts ultra-long.

Bait anglers will do well on lightly weighted prawns and worms. The old red bead above the bait gets them switched on.

Remember to take what only you need, not your limit.


Bream will be spread throughout the system this month with good fish around Wauchope and Rawdon Island bridge. Narrow Gut will be a prime spot to target fish on plastics in the deep sections and surface lures and minnows in along the banks.

Flathead have been solid although I haven’t had many reports of big lizards lately. Look out for the big ladies this month, they’ll be stalking the edges of drop-offs and taking live baits and big soft plastics. Look after these fish and return them to the water.

Along the flats good numbers of school fish should be on offer. I prefer 40cm fish for the table. Prawns and whitebait will be best baits and just about any 3” to 4” soft plastic on a 1/6oz or 1/8oz jig head will get flathead.

School mulloway have been viable targets and common by-catch when chasing bream and flathead. Plastics and blades will account for some good fish, with the deeper parts of the river around Dennis Bridge worth a go.

But don’t be surprised if some are stalking the flats and oyster leases.

Offshore action has been great when the weather permits, with snapper still the primary focus.

The reds will stay around this month, although they should moving farther out. Petersons Reef, off the Lighthouse Beach, is as good a place as any to start.

Kingfish and mahi mahi will be about, along with the odd tuna and marlin. If the bait grounds north of the bar fire up with slimy mackerel it could be a bumper season.


This time of year some fresh water sessions will definitely be on the cards and some runs downstream of Ellenborough look good for some great bass sessions.

Late afternoon and evening sessions are the best now, with diving minnows and soft plastics rigged on Beetle Spins or ponyhead jigs getting the fishes’ attention.

Vibes also do well; the smaller blades seem to yield the best results.

At dusk, switch to surface lures and throw a variety of them until you find the one that takes their fancy. I start with fizzers then progress to poppers and end up with a walker-style lure.

I’ve fished some pools until late in the night and still got bass on surface lures. Walkers seem to be the best lures in this dark time.

The more noise the better the strikes seem to be, so make sure you take a good selection of Jitterbugs and walkers.

The fish in the Hastings on a whole aren’t monsters but they are healthy and give a good account of themselves.

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