Surface fun on the cards
  |  First Published: November 2012

I love the surface fishing that Summer brings. This month we will see a host of species starting to look up for the high-protein diet of insects that fall into the water and prawns trying to flee to safer water.

I love to see a lure twitched, jiggled or ripped on the surface and then the smashing strike and the line peeling from the reel.

Bream, whiting, flathead and bass are the primary species which can be targeted in the Hastings and adjoining estuaries.

Those wishing to target whiting can do so in a variety of locations with several techniques.

Live worms or yabbies are the top baits and the best spots will be sandy flats with deep drop-offs close by.

Try places like the flats at Blackmans Point or the banks up near the Dennis Bridge on the Hastings. On the Camden Haven River you can fish up around the Dunbogan bridge or the flats opposite the entrance to Stingray Creek.

Fish baits as lightly as you possibly can and work them very slowly.

These spots are also prime places to target whiting with surface lures. Poppers and pencil-style lures work extremely well.

Best times for whiting are early in the day or late in the evening. Tidal movement is important and if you can get some slight wind chop, then they are fishable all day.


This month a good feed of flathead fillets with a tasty salad can make a great summer meal.

Prepare well and plan your trip and some good flathead should be on the cards.

Bait fishers can’t go past live poddy mullet and the best place to collect them at Port Macquarie is in the back channel along Settlement Point Road near one of the bridges. Whitebait, salted prawns and slabs of mullet are also worthwhile.

Limeburners Creek should produce some nice fish with the banks upstream of the bridge a good place to start. On the Camden Haven, head to the sandy flats at the entrance to Watson Taylors Lake.

I like to cast close to the bank or parallel to it and hop the lure and let it rest. It’s important to vary the retrieve and the pause if you’re getting hits and not hooking up.

These areas with deep drop-offs adjacent will also be top spots to target flathead on lures. Along with 3”-5” soft plastics and metal vibes, deep divers and sinking lures also work well.

If you’re fishing large flats then larger surface lures can work extremely well and also give you the chance of catching some whiting and bream.

Bream will respond to a mixture of techniques.

Bait is the best option after dark with the flats and coal walls prime places to target big bream on fresh prawns, yabbies and whitebait.

Lures this month can prove to a challenge with bream moving throughout our systems but with some careful planning you can increase your odds.

Check how the tide will be at the spot you intend to fish. The old saying ‘no run, no fun’ can’t be more true at this time of year.

If you’re heading up the Hastings above Dennis Bridge then look to head off 1-2 hours after the high tide. This will enable you to fish the last of the run in and then the start of the run out.

Early in the morning I like to target fish that are out in the open feeding on weed beds and rock bars. As the sun gets hotter and brighter, I cast small surface lures and shallow divers towards the snags and mangrove edges.

The biggest keys to finding spot that hold fish are to look for structure above or below the water, water movement and a likely food source.

Freshwater action this month should begin to heat up with bass moving higher up the systems looking for cicadas and other insects that fall into the water.

The lower reaches around Wauchope and Kendall on the Hastings and Camden Haven rivers should prove productive.

And those with kayaks or canoes will be able to enjoy some great fishing in runs up river in the Hastings or the Maria.


Offshore anglers will have a variety of species to choose from.

Pelagic species will turn up as the water warms. Mahi mahi will be high on some target list and the FAD off Port Macquarie will be a top place to start.

Bottom bouncing can always be a lucky dip with flathead numbers consistent in close along with plate-size snapper.

This month you’ll need to venture wider offshore for bigger snapper and pearl perch. Best baits will be squid, yakkas and pilchards.

Soft plastics will take decent fish but beware of the dreaded leatherjackets; they can make an expensive trip with lost leaders, jig heads and plastics.

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