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It’s a seafood smorgasbord
  |  First Published: December 2006




Another year begins, with warm ocean currents bringing all sorts of hard-fighting fish and a seafood smorgasbord in our estuary system with prawns, blue swimmer crabs and a feed of fresh flathead or whiting.

Estuary fishing through the height of Summer is generally quite productive, although some areas can host a lot of boat traffic. Too much noise can put fish off a bit, so one of the keys to success is finding a nice quiet spot to yourself if at all possible.

Brisbane Water has been fishing well leading up to the holiday period. My mate Aaron tells me they’ve been braining the bream over the shallow flats with some good-sized fish among them.

Bream like to get up in the warmer bays and flats, especially where there are concentrations of bait like pink nippers, soldier crabs or prawns and it helps a lot if there is a bit of extra structure like weed beds or rocks in the area to be fished. Early mornings should be the shot for chucking bream lures around Brisbane Water before the crowds get out and the winds pick up.

This is also a top month to look for flathead, whiting, jewfish and blue swimmer crabs around Brissy Water. Some of the better areas are towards the lower end of the system from the Rip Bridge, down through Ettalong, Umina and over Woy Woy way. That’s not to say Erina or Narara creeks up around the Gosford won’t produce fish, either.

Tuggerah Lakes should produce the goods at The Entrance, Budgewoi, Lake Munmorah, around the Toukley Bridge and in Ourimbah, Wyong and Wallarah Creeks.

I recently heard of some nut stringing a net across the upper reaches of Wallarah Creek, which killed a lot of estuary perch. It’s sad to hear of this sort of thing going on. If you see a suspicious-looking net strung across a creek, contact Fisheries immediately because they have a couple of officers who will hopefully catch the culprits.

On a brighter note, bream, whiting, flathead and blue swimmers should be well worth chasing in the lakes this month. Prawns will be running around the dark of the moon from about January 12 to 21 at Canton Beach, Elizabeth Bay and The Entrance. Don’t forget to carry your fishing licence when prawning. Last Summer quite a few people were fined for not doing so.

ROCK AND BEACH

Beach fishing is one of the best things you could do over Summer. Fish or no fish, the beach is just a top place to be. North Entrance, although a good fishing beach, can also become very crowded through the height of the holidays so get there nice and early in the morning to beat the crowds and the wind for a good chance at whiting, bream, tailor or flathead.

Other beach options include Birdie, Budgewoi, Hargraves, Soldiers, Forresters, Wamberal and Putty. All will produce whiting, bream and tailor and there’s always a chance of a decent jewfish after dark.

As with almost everything, there’s a downside to beach fishing on the Central Coast over the holidays – car break-ins. Unfortunately there’s not a hell of a lot we can do to prevent a break-in but you can try to avoid really dark or secluded spots to park the car and don’t leave any valuables in it.

The same goes for rock fishing. I’ve had cars broken into at Snapper Point and Norah Head in the past. One of those occurred around 6 am when you would think such scumbag thieves would be asleep but they can strike at any time.

I’ll get off the negative track in a minute but extreme vandalism has meant that the Munmorah State Conservation Area at the northern end of the Central Coast is now closed after dark. Gone are the days of being able to arrive at Wybung Head or Snapper in the wee hours to prepare for a morning’s livebaiting or staying at the same spots into the night chasing tailor or jewfish. If all those idiots who’ve been burning and wrecking things would have got into fishing of any early age they would have grown up to appreciate the natural world instead of destroying it.

For the rest of us should be some fish around the rocks this month. The odd bream, blackfish and drummer will always be a chance soaking baits like prawns, cunje, crabs or green cabbage close in under whitewater. If you prefer pilchards on ganged hooks you’re likely to run into tailor, salmon and bonito, particularly at Catherine Hill Bay, Snapper Point, Norah Head, Terrigal and South Avoca.

What you catch will depend on how warm the water is and the ocean currents can still be a bit up and down this month. Cooler water will mean tailor and salmon but if it warms up, bonito and rat kingfish are a good chance.

High-speed spinning, a tradition among local rockhoppers, should produce a few bonito and rat kings but I’ve always found the best spinning action happens after the holidays have ended. These days we’ve got heaps of great high-speed lures to choose from and one of my current favourites is the SureCatch Knight in 40g or 65g sizes.

OFFSHORE

Offshore fishing through January should mean plenty of rat kingfish with a few 4kg to 8kg kings mixed in. Hopefully the marlin situation will be better than last year, which was quite dismal.

At the time of writing, there is some nice warm water pushing down the coast and a few small black and striped marlin have been caught further north so we’ll see what happens.

Cobia may not be around in the prolific numbers that they were last year but if you want to try for them use live yakkas or slimies where a clean, sandy bottom meets small patches of reef or bommies. You certainly don’t need deep water for cobia. Five to 20m is fine as these fish often like to cruise right in close to headlands and beaches.

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