Most seasoned anglers know you have to feel your way into a new season because every one is different.
There may be a lake or estuary that has closed or reopened to the ocean or there may be unseasonable rises or falls in offshore water temps. And then there is weather…
At the moment Wallaga Lake, north of Bermagui, and Cuttagee, to the south, are closed to the ocean but are poised to reopen.
This may be bad news to those who like prawning because both systems are carrying good prawn stock which should be of reasonable size next month.
Even if these systems open up, not all the prawns will be lost unless there is a massive flood.
If Wallaga is to open we should see Spring fishing like last year’s, especially for flathead.
The western side of the lake and up towards Narira Creek is likely to produce most of the fish because this is where the water is at its warmest. One of the many soft plastic prawn imitations is all that is required to produce plenty of action.
In the Bermagui River fresh stocks of bream, flathead, luderick, whiting and trevally are constantly moving into the river, providing excellent early season angling.
The upper tidal regions are producing better with the exception of the bridge at night, which is very productive. Here prawns travelling on the tide are easy prey for fish.
Out at sea, water of 14°-18° has put the game fish on hold.
There has been no significant recent captures with only a handful of striped tuna, an odd albacore and even a more stray bluefin tuna on offer.
There is more chance of finding a mako shark in a berley trail than anything, although anglers fishing deep in the canyons have encountered tasty deep-water species. Working deep in the canyons off Bermagui is becoming more popular with the modern electric reels available.
It is a double dip for anglers out where the game fish are: if one form of fishing is not happening they can switch to the other and not come home empty-handed. Species like ling or ghost cod, hapuku, gemfish and blue-eye trevalla are all likely and you can always expect other weird and wonderful fish.
For those who don’t want to venture as far, the inshore grounds are shaping up nicely. Tiger flathead are starting to show in numbers in the usual spots like north-east of Tilba and east and slightly south of Bermagui, with most fish in 40m-60m.
In these depths there are numerous reefs so you can start up on the edge of the rock and some of those early north-east winds can drift you south to encounter blue or jackass morwong, ocean perch, nannygai or snapper before drifting onto the flathead grounds. Often at this time of year one or two moves may be all that is necessary.
Things are pretty ordinary along the ocean shoreline.
From the beaches the best on offer are schools of salmon frequenting Camel Rock or Tilba Beach to the north or Barragoot and Cuttagee south.
The Blue Pool is one of the better areas for rock fishing with drummer and luderick the mainstays.
Those who like to fish tough should try using red crabs for blue groper, which provide one of the best challenges from the rocks.