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Shallow-minded flathead
  |  First Published: November 2013



The build-up to the Summer season has been plagued by issues and fishing difficulties.

It certainly wasn’t the ‘normal’ Winter season, either, with some species failing to live up to expectations.

While there were some salmon milling along the beaches, there was a significant decline in numbers this year and the super-clear water was evidence of a lack of decent rain in the past few months.

When you consider the flooding we experienced last January and April, it has been an incredible change to the clear water that made the lake fishing tougher than it should be.

The beauty about the clear water is that as it warms, the whiting fishing in the lower lake becomes brilliant before the fish move out onto the beaches.

This is perhaps the best time to take whiting on poppers in the channels around The Paddock and the sand flats at the bridge.

The spawning aggregations of whiting are full of aggressive fish that chase down lures that are wound fast across the surface.

The same fish are prime targets during the evening and can be taken on beach worms or yabbies in the same areas.

By now most of the male flathead should be looking for the large females that have been haunting the lower end of the lake for a month or two.

Many fish will be taking up ground over the shallow, weedy flats around the islands and bays in the lake.

While the last few hours of the run-out tide are best, it is a good idea to fish water around 60cm deep. The flathead will be laid up waiting for the poddy mullet, juvenile whiting and schools of glass minnows to pull back with the first of the run out and I find them very receptive to a prawn lure at this time.

One area that is well worth a look for flathead is Smiths Lake, south of Forster. It has mostly shallow edges and fishes well during the Summer as the water warms quickly.

CRABS

Hang on to those fish frames for bait, reports of some good mud crabs have surfaced and the blue swimmers are on the move, too, in and around the weed edges in the main lake.

One thing the clear water has done is allowed me to GPS some mud crab holes and areas that I’m intending to cover this year.

Remember, five witches’ hats and one crab trap are all that is currently allowed per person and they must be marked and buoyed appropriately.

On the first dark early this month I imagine the prawns will be running hard. She supermarkets have had schoolies (prawns) in the store for more than a month so that is a great sign for a bumper prawning season.

BEACH BAIT

Summer is a fun time on the beaches with the return of the whiting and dart during the daytime. It can be great fun fishing during a hot day, as the kids play in the shore break while whiting, dart and the occasional bream get hauled up the sand.

What is even more fun, and a whole lot more challenging, is beach-worming and there is always a good supply of worms down the south end of Seven Mile Beach.

The last three hours of the run-out tide is best and then you can fish the run in.

Whiting and dart love beach worms and you never know, you may get a 30kg jew like one lucky angler did at Celito Beach not that long ago. The monster was landed on 12lb line after a torrid battle.

ROCKS

The rocks are a mixed bag leading up to Summer. Pigs, blackfish, bream and tailor are all still happening but visits from rat kings are not out of the question.

Butterfish and swarms of toads can make short work of baits so test the water without berley to start with, so you don’t encourage these pests.

Low light in the early mornings and afternoons is the key to better catches off the rocks and now that daylight saving has kicked in, there is extra reason to get out after work for a fish.

Throwing plastics from the rocky headlands back towards the beaches is a fine way to kill that last couple of hours of daylight and if you can snag a change of tide and half-light together, you have the best chance at a jewfish.

Spinning gets interesting from now with the gradual appearance of mack tuna and cobia. The bonito and tailor are more likely but areas like Seal Rocks or north end of One Mile can produce surprises.

What the Summer will bring is anyone’s guess. Wet or hot or hot and wet; not even the experts can agree. I think we’ll take our chances and take what we are dealt.

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