Sharpen up those pencils
  |  First Published: November 2012

Bring on the shorts and T-shirts and don’t forget to slip slop slap! All things piscatorial will be looking to the surface to feed, so stock up on stickbaits and flick, flick, flick!

According to various predictions we may slip back into an El Niño phase this Spring, bringing warmer conditions and a potential for below average rainfall this Summer.

For estuary anglers this may mean a return to smoking Summer surface lure sessions.

With the past few years being so wet, temps in the estuaries in this part of the world were slightly cooler. St Georges Basin was very slow on the surface for most of last season.

With increased warmth we may see more activity in shallow, particularly given the explosion in invertebrate populations given the amount of nutrient load dumped into the estuaries during the wet period.

The upside to all this? I’d be sharpening up my pencils! For the uninitiated that refers to the skinny walk-the-dog surface lures that twitch from side to side, as opposed to your traditional poppers, which push water in front of them with that classic bloop, bloop sound.

If you haven’t experienced this style of fishing you’re seriously missing out.

To date Spring has been a patchy affair. The Basin has had its usual moments of absolute magic but there have been a few days on struggle street, just to keep people guessing.

It may be old news to some but Tom McLean’s 79cm snapper was a standout, especially given he was fishing 2lb fluorocarbon straight through while scouting for bream with Mark ‘Tubby’ Tailor.

The first run is always intense with such quality fish in an estuary and the lads did a fine job chasing the fish down with the Minn Kota before it hit the landing net. Rest assured, that quality piece of prime breeding stock is still swimming after being released after a few happy snaps.

Big tailor have also provided some heart-in-mouth popper sessions. While guiding clients recently the birds had a school of bait penned into the shore close to a weed bank.

After being dusted by two good runs an exploratory cast with a 115mm Troll Craft popper had instant results and the action was fish-a-cast surface explosions for the next hour. These fish weren’t actively feeding off the surface.

The fish pictured on this page went 79cm. As a cheap alternative these little poppers are great value and work a treat, especially given the fact that we had two fish chew clean through 60lb mono leader.

I find the best big chopper rig is about 50cm of 60lb-80lb mono tied with a uni knot. Double up the 6lb-10lb braid without actually tying a double for added bulk and strength in the knot. When casting, have the knot outside the guides.

Best lure by far is an orange 90mm X-Rap Walk and don’t be afraid to pause the lure after a series of twitches.


The big dusky flathead have been doing their October-November thing. Don’t forget the Basin Lure and Fly Club’s annual Basin Flathead Classic on November 25.

Another reminder with the big girls, don’t forget to use a glove in the mouth and really support the belly when handling these big trophy fish for pictures.

Lip grips are great on fish for the table but have a tendency to pierce the bottom lip when a fish is green, and the last thing you want to do is put a big one back with a big tear in the skin on the lower jaw section. It may impede the ability of the fish to feed successfully.

Further south, there has been some positive news at Conjola and Burrill lakes. According to NSW DPI, the noxious weed Caulerpa taxifolia has not been sighted in either system as of Winter 2012.

The weed in Conjola and Berringer was thick, to say the least, so this is good news. It doesn’t like fresh or cold water so it will be interesting to see whether a hot, dry Summer will make it return.

If you’re boating in these systems in particular then please ensure you really wash your trailer before putting your boat into another waterway.

Word has it Conjola has fished well over the past few months with some good bream in the timber and some big flathead on all the usual drop-offs.

My favourite tactic for Conjola is to cast hardbodies over shallow, sandy bays and creek mouths for visual flattie action.


Jervis Bay through early Spring was slow, cold and clear with an inshore current that seems to be stopping just inside The Banks.

There has been the odd good day under the cliffs to the north with reds at the end of a berley trail, along with a few plagues of bonito, stripies, and the odd king.

It’s been hit-and-miss but the flattie bashers have been holding their own with some good bags and the odd gummy shark in 40m-plus.

Winter didn’t live up to expectations for the big kings on the deeper reef haunts, but if we get a late Spring run then give Roy from Sea Lady Charters a call on 0411 024 402. Roy specialises in groups of up to six people and spends more time on The Banks than most, so he has his finger on the pulse.

There has been a bit of a slimy mackerel hatch hit with plenty of finger-sized specimens providing a good sign of things to come. With the bait now starting to stack up in close, things are looking good for the Summer. Lets see what happens.

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