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Estuary favourites are hot
  |  First Published: December 2011



As the main part of the holiday season tapers off this month, crowds will start to thin out and we can look forward to plenty of angling action over coming months.

Through January local fishing should remain quite good, with the most consistent action probably coming from estuary lure casting or bait soaking. Rock, beach and offshore action can still be a bit patchy this month.

Bream, flathead and whiting are the species anglers should be mainly concentrating on.

I’ve found flathead to be particularly good over the past few months around Tuggerah Lakes and the bottom end of Lake Macquarie.

While I haven’t run into any really big fish, there has been a healthy sprinkling of 2kg to 3kg flathead – for the modern-minded angler, that roughly equates to 60cm to 80cm.

Of course, plenty of similar-sized flathead have been hooked around Brisbane Water, with a few bigger specimens caught here and there.

This season my favourite flathead lure has been the 100mm white or drop bear Squidgy Wriggler, used with an 1/8oz Nitro jig head.

It’s the right size for pretty much any flathead from little tiddlers up to the big ones.

However, there’s no doubt that when specifically aiming to pin a trophy croc, it’s best to step up in lure size. Any reputable plastic over 120 mm will put you in the running.

WHITING

Whiting can always be found at The Entrance on the eastern or western sides of the bridge.

From my experience, there are more fish on the western side but there’s also a lot of weed there, which can make things difficult.

Bits of floating weed are particularly annoying when a whiting zooms up and is just about to hit the lure – when a piece of weed fouls it up and that’s the end of that.

If possible, try to time your outing with a rising tide after a few days of relatively calm weather; that’s when the least amount of floating weed will be in that area.

If you can’t find whiting there, try other shallow margins around North Entrance, Canton Beach, Woy Woy, Ettalong, Fagans Bay or Rileys Island.

As well as the usual array of surface lures, small blades like the Jazz Bokun, Ecogear ZX30 and Daiwa Gekkabijin Vib are also very effective when constantly retrieved over a sandy bottom.

Those 2” Gulp worms are another handy whiting lure.

Bream, will be just about anywhere at this time of year but it’s hard to go past really shallow areas first thing of a morning.

Kayak- or shore-based anglers can sometimes have the advantage over those in boats because it’s easier to access these ultra-shallow margins, especially around the lakes.

Soaking good bait like fresh prawns, pink nippers or bloodworms around The Entrance, or adjacent to oyster leases in Brisbane Water, will also work well for bream this month.

VARIABLE CURRENT

As I said, offshore, rock and beach fishing can be really good or a bit patchy this month and that’s all because of variable ocean currents.

We can certainly expect water between 20° and 24° but even in January it’s far from surprising to cop some cold water, especially after a few days of strong north-easterly wind.

Then when a southerly hits, the water temps often rise again.

It’s just one of those things we need to keep an eye on and try to time an outing when the water’s warm.

Inshore fishos should be looking for bonito and kingfish early in the morning and possibly jewfish on the reefs after dark.

Out wider, a number of striped marlin have been hooked recently so there’s every chance of more stripes as well as small blacks this month. If they don’t show, another option is to try the Perch Grounds for kings, bonito and striped tuna.

Bonito and kings are also what a lot of local rockhoppers have been looking forward to for months.

Some have already been caught from the usual ledges like Wybung and South Avoca, but it’s hard to predict if it will be worth putting in a lot of effort for them through January.

Although it’s not the style of fishing I do much of these days, in years gone by I spent many hours casting lures from our rock ledges and often found February to be a much better month.

Then again, each season is different and a lot depends on the all-important current.

BEACH OPTIONS

Beach fishing options this month are mainly whiting through the day, tailor, bream or salmon later in the afternoon and towards sunset, then jewies after dark.

Although not overly consistent, the good news is that quite a few jewfish from 3kg to 15kg have hit the sand in recent weeks, so hopefully they’ll remain active through January.

All in all, we should be in for some reasonably good fishing but there may be the odd rough patch along the way.

Focus on bream, flathead and whiting and you’ll end up catching a few.

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