Find the baitfish first
  |  First Published: November 2012

Spring fishing is finally starting to live up to expectations, with some great options starting to really fire up.

Water temps are on the rise, bringing a little flurry of game fish activity.

Inshore there are some healthy concentrations of baitfish with sea birds making the schools easily identifiable. The culprits driving the bait to the surface are big schools of 60cm-90cm kingfish with the odd unstoppable in the mix.

If you are keen to mix it with the kingfish, make the effort to really sound around on the troll to locate the bait if it isn’t visible on the surface. If you don’t find the bait, you won’t find the kingfish.

When kingfish are in a mood to feed they are highly mobile and the only thing that will hold them in one spot for any length of time is food. At other times, structure is vitally important because it will also hold a school of kings, particularly when they aren’t feeding actively.

Both situations require a good sounder and reasonable ability to use it.

With most things in life, you get what you pay for and this is particularly true for sounders. Buy the best your budget allows and learn how to use it to its full potential and you will definitely catch more fish.

In my experience live squid and live slimy mackerel are among the best baits for kingfish at this time of the year, particularly for big fish.

Live yellowtail also work and are usually easier to catch but more often than not attract the attention of undersized fish. The big fish you want to catch simply follow the hooked fish to the surface and show themselves to you, but won’t take a bait.

Frustration and kingfish can often go hand in hand!

Big lures, hard or soft, diving or surface, all work on kingfish, too. Keep changing lure types and colours regularly and really mix up the retrieve style and speed.

Kings are curious fish and can often be tempted to bite a lure even when they aren’t hungry. Once you work out what they want to eat and actually get a few hook-ups, don’t get too comfortable because they can just as quickly switch off and you will be back to the drawing board.

Bonito have already made sporadic showings and their numbers will increase this month. All kingfish techniques work well on bonito and you can add some various-sized high-speed metal lures into the mix.

In 50-60 fathoms there has been a little flurry of albacore and big striped tuna for those inclined to push wide of the shallow grounds. Anthony Stokman of Top Cat Charters recently found some sub-10kg albacore and stripies to 7kg half-way out to the shelf. By now there could also be a few stray school yellowfin tuna to be found.


November is a great time to be chasing fish in the estuaries as the sun warms the water markedly.

I usually find big numbers of bream in the lower reaches around the oyster racks and rock bars after a Winter spent along the ocean rocks and beaches. The fish are hungry and aggressive when the tide has some run in or out.

Current pushing onto structure is the place they will most likely be.

Surface lures work now as there are usually plenty of insects on the move.

If we get the obligatory termite hatch, however, no surface lure will work on them as they fixate on feeding on the tiny flying ants and won’t look at anything else on the surface. If you have a fly rod and dry flies in this situation I reckon you’d have the time of your life but I am yet to try this branch of our sport.

With such a dry start to Spring Durras Lake entrance closed and will be a fairly ordinary fishing destination if it stays that way. Bream and whiting numbers will be well down on last year’s amazing run because the fish simply won’t be able to return from the ocean.

Flathead will be the mainstay and the class of fish will be generally barely legal or big release-only specimens, which has been the trend over recent years.

In the fresh, bass love to get in on the termite hatches and there is nothing more frustrating than seeing a whole stretch of river come to life with at times hundreds of fish striking the surface and not even looking like getting a bite.

Fishing on into the night, however, can reap good rewards with surface lures in this situation.

The lack of rain is a big hindrance in the Clyde at present with almost no flow and an explosion of weed growth making many pools downright hard to fish with lures. Some solid rain will be much needed.

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