Big fish from the rocks
  |  First Published: August 2012

There is no doubt the fish activity in the lake and estuary has slowed up and what were prosperous banks and gutters months ago have become quite desolate. Anglers too have thinned out and early morning sprints to the first fishing spot in the boat have been postponed till the glow of the sun peaks the horizon.

Don’t worry it isn’t all doom and gloom for the coldest part of the year. There is the chance of a warmish day with light wind and a high tide around lunch time where you may have the opportunity to get out and have a fish. For those that have the patience there are still some big bream in the lower lake around any structure including navigation poles.

The leases around The Paddocks will hold the bream’s attention but the further you head up the rivers the less likely it is you will encounter any decent bream.

Flathead on the other hand are a different story. The upper tributaries and rivers are where many of the flathead spend their winter months, moving back from their summer digs in the lower tidal sand flats to the rocky and muddy banks of the rivers. I found half a dozen around 50cm on the shallow water verge of the Wallingat and Coolongolook river junction the other day and all the fish were a sooty coal colour. The fish I kept were delicious!

There are still plenty of very small bream up the rivers but nothing really worth chasing. I’d be inclined to concentrate on the flathead up the rivers if you are after a feed of fish and if you are soaking baits of prawns or live yabbies it is likely that you’ll pick up the odd big sand whiting too. The whiting seem less active during the winter and with no aggregation as such they can be found everywhere in the estuary. Big winter whiting are generally found sniffing around the weed fringes of the rivers.

I’ve had reports of a few school jew being taken through the lake and around Wallis Island on bait. Along with the bream and flathead, the leatherjackets are also providing variety to the fish tubs.

Blackfish around the leases are keeping some guys busy while most of them are enjoying coastal travel. Next month should see a good number of travelling blackfish back into the estuary so fishing the leases with weed should just get better.

Winter fishing in the lake does slow down but is still well worth a day on the water. Lower lake is by far the best area to focus your efforts.

The Breakwall has been slow on the jewfish front but the bream and blackfish are still scattered along the wall. Some fish are returning to the estuary while others are just lingering, waiting for a feed to drift past.

The rough seas we’ve had has stirred up the tailor and also triggered the black drummer at the ends of the walls – some of the drummer being caught on the rocks have been big. The big drummer should be considered like a big flathead as breeding stock. Fish over 4kg are tough eating so keep fish in the 1-1.5kg range and you will have the best eating fillets available from the rocks. A mix of silver trevally, silver drummer, pigs, bream, tailor and jew can be targeted from the stones and even sand flathead if you want to fish from the headlands to behind the surf break.

Beach formations have been good after the rough weather and I’m told that Seven Mile Beach has some deep gutters holding jewfish and schools of tailor and salmon. Janie’s Corner is always worth a look for a beach fish, especially of a late afternoon and evening. Soaking mullet strips on a paternoster rig for big bream is a great way to enjoy the plummeting air temperatures and perhaps a nice cup of hot soup.

Snapper are the main target offshore whether it is close inshore or wide. I was told of a 7kg fish taken from the rocks at Back Beach Reef. It is an exceptional fish for shallow water and was caught while the angler was fishing for drummer. I call that a win!

The offshore anglers will be contending with the leatherjacket for the next few months and while they are a nuisance, they are not a bad feed. Trag, morwong, snapper and flathead with the odd pearl perch will fill the eky this month. For bait collect slimies at the back of Hayden’s reef and there has been plenty of yellowtail hanging around the end of the Breakwalls.

The estuary will be a bit slow but the rocks and offshore are my pick, especially with stable weather and sea conditions.

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