Fish activity flourishing
  |  First Published: October 2012

Spring is helping to erase the memory of the cold bones of Winter that held so many fishos back from a day on the water just a month or so ago.

As we get closer to Christmas, and it isn’t that far away, the warming coastal water will bring an explosion of baitfish and butter prawns, pushing them up the rivers and into the lake.

With the increase in water temperature and the fodder species, general fish activity flourishes. Bream return to the system from their coastal run and the blackfish and flathead begin to emerge from the rivers and enter the lower lake, where they wait for the large, mating females.

From now through to May, bream are repopulating the entire lake and the upper ends of the rivers. The lure of the butter prawns is too much for them to resist and it is a great opportunity for anglers to enjoy brilliant surface action.

Some of the flathead hang back in the upper parts of the rivers right through the Summer, so expect them, too.

Drifting baits or throwing shad-type plastics around the banks or at the inside junctions of the rivers will produce the flathead and the occasional big bream.

Out in the middle of Wallis Lake, a few anglers have had a lot of success fishing vibe type lures on the shallow edges of the weed beds. The technique is to cast into the deeper water and lift and drop the vibes back to the boat.

Blackfish have taken up residence around the lease posts and those drifting weed baits suspended under floats are a regular sight around The Paddock and the rock walls.

It’s a great way to pass some time and is easily done on conventional spinning gear or ‘bream gear’, if you like.

Finding green weed can be difficult but I like to have a look in the pool just in front of the Coastal Patrol building on the Forster breakwall. If there is no weed there you can supplement use cabbage found around the rocky headlands; it works just as well most of the time.

There have been flathead in the lower lake right through Winter and that is a good sign that this year is going to be a great season for them. I like to target fish of around 50cm for the table and they are big enough that you need only two or three to feed the family.

The best way to locate the fish is casting baits and lures like DOA Shrimps to the weed edges of the flats and deeper channel edges on a run-out tide.

For shore-based anglers wading the channel at Tern Island, Tuncurry, will put you onto some productive areas that can be cast and waded.


October/November is when the major aggregation of whiting occurs in the clear waters around the bridge. Most of the whiting have enjoyed a river holiday over the Winter and they gather around the bridge from now on before many push out to the beaches over December.

Until then there are good opportunities to catch the sand whiting on worms and yabbies or on surface lures. The whiting are particularly aggressive during this spawning aggregation period and poppers of 50mm-65mm are best.

Be warned that as we get spikes in the water temperature you may encounter species like big-eye trevally, giant herring and even bonito in the lower lake. They all just add to the excitement of the fishing.

The wall has fished particularly well lately, especially for the returning bream and blackfish.

The school jew have been quiet but they should spark up very soon as the schools of baitfish push down the coast and the nor’-easters drive them closer to the coast. This will increase the opportunity for spinning from the rocks with bonito, mack tuna and the October run of big tailor.

Obviously early morning is the prime time and don’t worry, the salmon are still around to provide false hope of something decent on the end of your line.

A study of bass in the Manning River by Dr Keith Bishop has suggested the recent and past Winter flooding has greatly enhanced fish stocks in the river. That is great news for coming years as these fish grow in what is one of the best bass fisheries on the NSW coast.

All in all, whether it is rock, beach, lake or freshwater fishing you desire, this month has something to offer everyone.

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