Estuaries begin to warm
  |  First Published: September 2012

As we slip into the spring anglers can take advantage of some good early season estuary fishing, especially in the upper reaches of our lakes and rivers.

At this time of year the landmass gradually heats up, warming the upper reaches of the estuaries.

Migrating fish entering the systems know this and seek out the warmer water, this is where the food sources are and with a good knowledge of this, anglers will be able to experience some good visual shallow water fishing.

In Wallaga Lake places like Narira Creek, the entrance to Neilsons Bay or along the weedy rocky western shore are prime areas where bream fossick for shrimp, prawns, crabs, worms and many more marine foods. The fish can often be seen with their tails protruding through the surface as they try to suck these delicacies off the bottom.

Anglers using lures or bait can cash in on some exciting fishing.

Small floating bibbed lures or poppers should be cast well past the sighted fish and wriggled on the surface to attract its attention before starting a retrieve.

Be prepared in the shallow, clear water to make many casts because you will possibly scare more fish than you hook.

Nipper, prawn, worm or small black crab baits randomly cast over the area where these fish are feeding will often result in a hook-up. To gain as many strikes as possible think ultra-light line, like 1kg- 2k.g Use mono because it gives a bit of flex in the shallow water.

Flathead, luderick, whiting or trevally which are always welcome by-catch while targeting the bream.

Similar fishing can be expected in the Bermagui River with one big added advantage – this system has many more shallow flats covered in nipper beds. When flooded by the tide they provide perfect habitat for fish to move over and feed.

Methods mentioned work here but following the tide from the upper reaches downstream as it recedes off the flats can provide some good ambush angling along the edges, where the shallow water drops off to the deeper.

Live mullet can often prove deadly bait for very big early season duskies.

Cuttagee Lake is often overlooked but again will fish much like the river or Wallaga and this system is also loaded with small prawns on which the fish feed.

Those wishing to chase prawns of edible size should start checking it out from October.


The cool ocean water has not done anything to fire up the beaches but salmon are still patrolling the coast in good numbers.

Anglers can take advantage of westerly winds that flatten the surf and allow sight-casting to salmon schools.

You can anticipate which way the fish are travelling and a well-placed lure in front of the school will often result in a strike. Several fish can be extracted from a school before it moves on and you have search for another.

Bait will also account for salmon as well as tailor and yellowfin bream. Most of the beaches with deep-water frontage are holding these fish and at night have gummy sharks and the odd jewfish.

Around the rocks you can expect salmon and tailor along with the regular drummer, luderick, trevally and groper early morning and late afternoon.


That cool water is still playing a role although things are definitely improving, especially for the reef anglers.

In 20m-30m off most beaches are reasonable numbers of sand flathead, gummy sharks and red gurnard while on the reefs, especially south of Bermagui, snapper, morwong, ocean perch, nannygai and pigfish are a regular catches.

These reefs usually start in around 40m and can continue out to around 70m-80m in areas like the Twelve Mile Reef, where large Tassie trumpeter are turning up.

Just off the edges of all these reefs are tiger flathead, which should become more consistent as we head further into Spring.

Wider out those with electric reels are finding tasty blue-eye trevalla, hapuku and gemfish, especially around the Bunga Canyons. Out in the deep there is always a chance of some early season albacore, a stray yellowfin or even striped tuna.

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