I'm really glad to see the back of the August slumber that St Georges Basin went through.
It's not that often that you can say the Shoalhaven River is fishing better than the Basin but that was the case for a few weeks. With closed season on the bass and EPs now behind us, the little barramundi of the south will be pushing upstream and ready to chew. Late afternoon on those warm spring days with the first insect hatch of the season will produce the first surface lure sessions of the season.
Check your tide charts for those tide changes on sunset and you might just surprise yourself with more than the odd flathead, jewie and bream hanging around a school of bass and EPs.
Best lures will be wrigglers and 2" prawn imitations fished light on a 1/8oz jig head. Make sure you use a heavy-duty hook; the fine gauge hooks straighten on the bigger fish.
The Basin should fire at times for most species this month but for those of us who love to chase big flatties, October is gun time. The Basin ranks among Australia's premier ‘big girl’ destinations and they will become aggressive as the urge to spawn and feed kicks in.
Next month we will see the Basin Lure and Fly Club's annual Flathead Classic, which has been rescheduled from its usual January timeslot. If the pond doesn't warm too much, this event should produce some monster lizards.
I'm really looking forward to being Ian ‘Big E’ Phillips’ net man for the event, and I do mean net man because the big fella's ability to hook monster lizards has to be seen to be believed.
The event is lure and fly only, catch and release. This club's members understand the importance of releasing the big breeding females to ensure the health of the stock and to make more delicious flattie tails, which we all enjoy eating.
The science says that the majority of dusky flathead over 57cm are breeding females but if you want some more info then simply Google ‘Dr Charles Gray biology of dusky flathead’ for a research paper on the subject.
In early August the Bay developed that green tinge which means cold water and it should stay that way until the east coast current kicks in sometime in December.
Early Spring is a good time for bait fishos drifting floaters down a berley trail for reds around the deeper reefs in the bay or out in front of the cliffs. Plantation Point will produce the odd quality snapper for the local lure casters who know the reef like the back of their hand.
It's pretty hard to beat the 5" Gulp Jerkshad in nuclear chicken for consistency. Use 6lb-10lb braid with 8lb-14lb leader on a 1/6oz 2/0 jig head.
Fishing a berley trail inside the Bay at this time of year can be hard work because of the spawning aggregations of Port Jackson sharks and banjo rays. They’re fine if you want to guarantee to put a bend in a rod for kids who really don't care what they catch.
Calamari will be more viable around the weed edges with some monsters available in the cooler water.
For my money it's pretty hard to beat catching a feed of flatties caught drifting in 40m-50m out the front of JB and then finishing off with an hour squidding at Longbeach or Murrays on the way home. Best colours are orange and pink with jigs from Ikado and Yamashita.
The beaches and rocky headlands inside the bay can be quite productive, particularly now the afternoons are warming. Pick a rocky outcrop and a little bit of wash at the end of a beach with a high tide on sunset for bream, salmon, tailor and if you have heavy tackle and crabs, groper.
Use a very light sinker and pilchard or salted slimy mackerel on ganged hooks for the others.
We've recently rediscovered how delicious crispy-skin tailor can be. Eaten the same day as it’s caught, the trick is to fry it in butter skin down til you get a bit of colour, then turn it over, fry another 20 seconds, turn the heat off and let it sit for five minutes.
The flesh should melt in your mouth as opposed to being dry and chewy.
Go easy on the big blue groper and consider taking a small brown for a feed if you have to.
We’ve seen an area of 12°-13° water inshore extend from Bawley Point to Kiama, putting the brakes on the fishing in close. Those late winter westerlies cause an upwelling of cold, clear water and the spearos and divers would have had some spectacular visibility for a few weeks.
We may see an early spring bite beyond the Banks as the water warms before the kings start to stack up back inshore next month.
Anyone considering doing a charter down this way over the next few months should get in quick because most good operators already have most weekends booked from now to December.Reads: 1145