Find the bait, find the fish
  |  First Published: December 2011

And a very big fat ‘Bah, humbug!’ to ye all! The cicadas are singing and everything from the blue water to the backwater is on the chew.

Everything seems to be stacking up for another bumper season in this part of the world. Good Spring rains dumped plenty of nutrients into most systems and that means prawns and juvenile baitfish have some good tucker to fatten up on – and the old saying goes, ‘find the bait, find the fish’.

In November we saw good juvenile slimy mackerel and yellowtail stacked up just off Jervis Bay and surrounds and by the time this goes to print we should be hooking into some good inshore kingfish around most headlands and offshore bommies.

Living up to last year’s epic inshore run will be a hard task but the ingredients are there and we’ll just have to see whether the fish keep their end of the bargain.

Observant anglers will be the ones reaping the benefits of tossing 7” white plastics into surface-breaking bait balls for immediate results.

It still amazes me how the danglers, not the anglers, can be sitting at anchor with a prawn anchored down by a big sinker and not react to a bait eruption within 100m of them! We see this situation time and time again every summer.

Be aware and have your gear rigged and ready to go when the bait pops up.

The bottom-bashing brigade has also been having a ball in 30m to 50m with mowies, pan-size reds, and flathead.

Over the next few months you can add kingfish to the equation in better numbers if you’re heading to The Sir John Young Banks.

While much has been said and written about live squid as the gun bait, in this part of the world my experience says yakkas are best in Summer.

I’m also really looking forward to putting some of Dave Venn’s JB Lures to work. I’ve recently acquired a couple of Dingos from the master South Coast lure maker who is now exporting fine hand-crafted tournament-winning lures all over the globe from a small workbench in Huskisson.

Trolled around Point Perpendicular for kings, they should be dynamite.

The other big question is whether we get another amazing run of small black marlin in January. Stay tuned for more trailer boat marlin action!


In the estuaries I’m actually hoping for a bit of rain to keep the water under 25°. Any warmer and the bite just slows dramatically.

With good Spring rain the upper Shoalhaven bass will really fire this season.

And I can hear the howls of condemnation, but don’t forget to pack the corn when you’re up the river or on Tallowa Dam this Summer. Corn equals carp.

It’s a bit of a laugh, but there are 10kg-plus fish everywhere and 20kg carp in the dam itself. They pull like the 10.35 freighter from Central and you’ll be doing the environment a favour.

Try threading a few kernels onto a long-shank 1/0 hook with little or no weight and wait for the fun to begin. Give the rod to one of the kids and they’ll be stitched up for 15 or 20 minutes.

Speaking of kids, one of the sessions of the year goes to Dylan Pollard, 12. The young fella fished with his uncle and pop and copped the full brunt of the best sledging any Aussie could muster over a five-hour period.

On his first session using lures, the kid had the last laugh with the heaviest and fattest 83cm croc flattie I have ever seen. Dylan struggled to lift the thing for a photo.

The fish was caught in 3m of water on 3lb line with 5lb leader and a 10lb tippet for insurance. A Gulp Crazy Legs in new penny was the lure of choice.

Naturally, it was successfully released in good condition.

This Spring was definitely the year of the fat flat fish.

Summer means ‘fighting whiting’ time, and it will be interesting to see which flat fires this year. It seems to be a seasonal thing for those of us who like to catch them on surface lures.

Every year a different piece of ground seems to fire.

If you haven’t experienced whiting on poppers, all you have to do is get a 2kg to 4kg rod with a 2500-size reel and some 3lb braid with 4lb to 6lb leader.

The reality is that a lesson with a guide will shorten your learning curve but all you have to do is shake the rod tip and wind at the same time.

Middle of the day with plenty of wind is prime time and take only what you need.

The estuary flats fishing at this time of year has to be seen to be believed on some days, with bream, flathead and tailor also getting in on the action.

All in all, it’s been a very pictorially satisfying year.

For those of you who live the lifestyle year round and not just in Summer, do yourself a favour on Boxing Day.

Leave the boat at home and grab yourself some deckchairs, a six pack and a video camera and head to your local boat ramp and watch the carnage! Funniest day of the year – guaranteed.

If you have a picture or a report you’d like published in NSWFM, email it to me.

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