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It looks like a cracker
  |  First Published: February 2013



Whatever target species you like to chase, this month should accommodate superbly.

Bass are on fire in all the South Coast systems with plenty of fish approaching the magic 50cm mark. On warm days with a rising barometer they will be eager to smack a surface lure cast tight to structure.

If the fish are not freely feeding on the surface you may have to work 1/8oz spinnerbaits, soft plastics or diving lures to get a bite.

Recent trips for us have yielded double hook-ups on fish to 46cm around shallow weed flats, deep heavily timbered tree snags and deep rock bars.

Night surface sessions are well worth the effort with noisy lures like Nutterjuck walkers, cicada imitations and cup-faced poppers all worth a cast.

Bass freely feed in shallow water after dark, well away from their daytime snags, so accurate casting is unnecessary.

My kids love popping for bass at night when we are camping, it's easy fishing for them and the strikes you get at night on the surface are more akin to a saltwater pelagic fish hit.

And the big bonus is that the really big ones are much easier to land than when you hook them just centimetres from their homes.

FLATHEAD

The estuaries just keep getting better and with the holiday congestion now gone, it will be a super time to flick a few lures. Maddy Loader again has showed up the boys, ‘whispering’ up another monster flathead pushing 90cm in Lake Conjola while the boys remained fishless.

Maddy and Mark both lost 90cm-plus fish from their kayak a week later so it likes like there are plenty of big girls in this system.

Whiting are belting lures in all estuaries and there are some brutes cruising the shallows.

If you have never given surface lures for whiting a go, now is the time to have a crack and you don't even need a boat or kayak. Wading the flats near the entrances of most systems will provide plenty of targets.

I even find the middle of the day to be red hot, as long as the tide is around high but still flowing in or out. The top of the tide is OK but it is much better when there is some run.

The popper retrieve is dead simple; work it constantly with little rips of the rod tip and don't stop. If you see fish following but not biting, work the lure faster!

If, however, you see bream following, add some pauses and that's when they usually bite.

Jewfish are still going OK on plastics with fish to 90cm caught and often released most days. You need to target them and fish multiple spots hard and ignore other fish to succeed, but they are there.

The Fisheries research boys have now tagged their whole quota of jewfish, whiting and flathead so now they will be focusing on gathering results of their movements.

Dylan van der Meulen and company managed to catch a jewfish each day for seven days in a row to fill the remaining tags so there is a good spread of fish in the system. The specimens came from five different locations so don't get too fixated on where to find them.

Andrew Badullovich has been up to his old tricks again, trolling hardbody lures and putting his mate onto an estimated 30kg monster fish that they sighted on the surface slurping down whitebait in the middle of the river nowhere near structure.

Once they put the lure into the zone, the fish instantly homed in. Unfortunately a heavy drag setting straightened the trebles, leaving the boys to ponder the loss.

KING HIT

Kingfish have hit the coast in a big way, with 6kg-8kg fish common. It has been way too many years since we have had a proper run of kings off our shores although ports to the north and south fire year after year.

Rohan Griffin scored four kings over 90cm just by trolling lures and he reckoned the water was boiling with them. There have also been numerous other reports of kings taking trolled lures so they must be pretty thick when you don't even need live bait to get a bite.

Offshore, the marlin action will be hitting fever pitch now with big schools of slimy mackerel the main drawcard for a hot bite. There should be a good mix of small black marlin this season and they will often be in pretty close, so you don't need to own a big boat to get into the action.

On the continental shelf there has been a big upsurge of school yellowfin tuna averaging 20kg, with plenty of crews scoring a handful of fish on the troll. Even though the traditional Winter cubing time is still a long way off, don't be scared to give it a crack if you find a 'fin or two.

Float out a live bait at the same time and you'll still hook any prowling marlin.

Anthony on Top Cat Charters has been also putting clients onto a great run of snapper with plenty of 3kg-4kg fish on plastics and bait.

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