This is a great time to dust off the fishing gear and make sure you are all set for another good season chasing your favourite species.
Plenty of great fish are caught here in Winter but there is just something more enjoyable about a day on the water when you don’t have three layers of clothing on just to be comfortable.
Water temperatures are now picking up and the warm-water species are starting to stir.
A change in seasons means a change in tactics for most of us.
A lot of fishers will target different species altogether now as the water warms. Others will still chase their old favourites but with techniques altered to suit the new season.
This is a great time to be on Lake Macquarie.
The bream fishing really starts to kick into gear now and many lure anglers will focus on those shallow flats in 30cm-1m.
Shallow-running hardbodies are particularly effective and if the bite is a little shut down, a slight smear of scent on your lure can soon have the bream biting when all else fails.
Swansea flats around the sand islands are producing some great bream at the moment and the flathead have also started moving into the shallows to warm up.
Some bait anglers are getting some great bags of bream by anchoring just on the edges of these flats and drifting out a berley trail and very lightly weighted chicken gut and peeled prawn baits on light line.
There are still some very good tailor hanging around in the lake. The schools are often hard to find, so trolling can be an effective way to locate them and then you can start spinning once the schools are found.
Fish to 60cm have been encountered and they are not only great sport fish but also very good on the table if bled straight away and eaten fresh that day.
Wangi, Coal Point and the Dropover are the prime spots for the tailor when they’re on the chew so keep an eye out for the birds to indicate the schooling fish.
Kingfish also start moving into the lake from now. The action will certainly pick up closer to Summer but some early season fish are always a possibility, so soaking a live bait is one of your best ways to quickly see if any are lurking around.
For lure anglers, flicking 4”-6” soft plastics around the deep water and the cardinal markers around the Dropover can also be very effective.
This year has been fantastic for flathead anglers and I have had some cracking sessions chasing my favourite target species.
Throughout Winter we fish deep for flathead but now we change tactics to slightly lighter jig heads on our soft plastics and we also concentrate on shallower water.
Instead of the 7m-10m depths, we now work the 2m-6m range.
Just remember that you can get away with light main braid of 4lb-6lb but it is vital to use at least 10lb leader and 12lb-16lb if larger fish are being encountered.
There also are very good flathead for bait anglers. Drifting is the key and staying on the bottom is a must. Use pilchard halves on 2/0 or 3/0 hooks and a 45cm trace of 12lb fluorocarbon and enough lead to get you down.
Coal Point to Wangi is a very good area to work at this time of year.
And remember, if you do have a great day and find the fish, you don’t have to keep them all. We take a few for dinner and pop the others back for next time.
It is a great feeling to watch a big girl flattie swim free, knowing that you might have another chance to get her next time around.
Offshore fishing is improving and hopes are high for a good season ahead.
Early season marlin are on the cards as sea temperature rise and bait schools start building up.
Mahi mahi are also possible and those caught early in the season are generally big bulls.
Now is the time to get those game reels in order, with fresh line on the reels and roller guides lubed.
A spread of four or five skirted lures is the best option at this time of year. As a rule, line classes of 15kg-24kg and of 8”-12” such as a Pakula spread would be ideal.Reads: 982