Lure fishing in this country has seen a phenomenal growth spurt over the past 10 years and there seems to be no sign of it letting up any time soon.
So why? What is the lure of the lure? What is it that makes many of us pack the bait away, pop the bait rods in storage and change our fishing goals?
We swap the old rods for modern graphite sticks and nylon mono makes way for fluorocarbon or braid.
Around five years ago I went through this transition and I can honestly say I’ve not looked back.
We all have our reasons for getting into lure fishing. Some fishos hate the smell of bait and the mess, or their partner complains about the mess and smell. Or they begin to find bait fishing a little boring – whatever the reason, all I can say is once you try lures I’d be very surprised if you ever went back to bait.
I had been into game fishing for a few years and then the time came for my wife and me to start a family. I needed a form of fishing that I found challenging and exciting that enabled me to pop out for a few hours without taking up my entire day.
Since I made the switch to lure fishing the estuaries I have enjoyed my time on the water more than ever. I get such a buzz these days from hitting up the local bream and flathead of Lake Macquarie and the family holidays have changed from being a week in Bermagui chasing yellowfin or marlin at South West Rocks to a week at Forster chasing kilo bream around the oyster racks.
I’ll do my best to convert those who are yet to try it.
All you need to get started is a couple of light 1kg-3kg threadline combos, a handful of lures and a boat that can be anything from a 10’ tinnie with a tiller electric motor to a high-end bass boat with all the bells and whistles.
Then find a few likely looking spots and get out there. It’s just a matter of time on the water and prospecting new options.
Some people (my fisho dad included) seem to think that because I generally bag good numbers of fish these days that lure fishing the estuaries must be easy. He doesn’t realise I have put in many hours of practice.
I find the challenge of lure fishing addictive. Constantly working your lures, studying the water and hunting fish makes for a very active, enjoyable time on the water.
Like most forms of fishing it can also lead you to some beautiful parts of our great country.
From chasing big black bream at Tassie or Mallacoota or battling 1m flathead on Lake Macquarie, there are options on offer all around the country and the targets are only limited by your efforts. I know guys who chase jewfish on lures up and down the east coast and others that love kingfish. The list goes on and it really is all on offer for the lure angler.
Whether it’s a feed you are after, a trophy fish or simply the thrill of the chase, you really need to be a thinking angler to have regular success.
I spent many months in my first year of lure fishing coming home empty-handed. The odd time I would stumble upon a bream or flathead and that was all that kept me sane.
But the more effort I put in and the more I worked at it, the better I became.
Just take note of things around you. You’re trying a load of new spots and you start to notice you’re often fouling the bottom in a particular area and every now and then your lure comes up with shells or cockles on it. Mark this spot on your GPS or take some landmarks because there will be fish there.
This may mean you start trying some lures that work just above the bottom to stop fouling up. In, say, 3m of water here is a great chance to run a deep-diving hardbody lure that’s going to get down to 2m-plus.
Before you know it you can have a great little session with a few quality bream.
Structure really is the key to success with lures. Rocky points with good current and food around them are fantastic.
Rocky shorelines with drop-offs offer plenty of options. Spend time working surface or shallow-running lures on the shallow side of the drop-off, and then switch to blades or soft plastics to work the deeper side.
Sand flats or weed flats are prime locations for lures. When you find yourself fishing in 60cm of water or even less, just find a technique that works. Surface lures such as poppers are a great option in the warmer months.
The so-called ‘off season’ over the cooler months also work for lure fishos. I love nothing more than chasing big flathead on lures then. Whether for bream, flathead or even jewfish, the fish are there all year round, It’s just a matter of learning where they hang in different seasons.
The other part of the game with lures is to realise that once you locate the fish you need to present the right lures with the right methods for the location and time of year. A rule of thumb is that during the cooler months you work lures a lot slower than in warmer times.
You will soon learn that the fish love to hit the lures on the pause part of your retrieve. On the warmer days the pause may be as little as two seconds but over Winter may be 10 seconds or more.
Unlike bait fishing, where you tend to find yourself drifting off (so to speak) and thinking of other things, when lure fishing it is critical you stay focused and maintain your line of thought, even when the going gets tough. Staying focused and ensuring you make the most of any half chances that come your way can turn an ordinary trip into a rewarding one.
Recently I took my wife Caroline for a bream session and things were not going to plan. After hours we had an empty livewell but she stuck at it and worked every cast like it was her first of the day.
On her very last cast she was rewarded with a cracking Lake Macquarie bream that put up a super effort on 3lb fluorocarbon. I can almost guarantee that if she was lazy and off with the fairies on that last cast she would have missed the strike.
I hope I have helped steer you towards the challenge of lure fishing. Like they say, you won’t catch any sitting on the couch at home so pop down to the local tackle shop, have a chat to the sales team, get out for a lure-only session and leave the bait at home.Reads: 1959