Well the silly season is upon us and the man in the big red suit will hopefully be dropping fishing goodies under the Christmas tree. One thing is for certain the silly fishing season should come early to those who like to wet a line and chase some of our piscatorial friends.
You could look at the silly season in two ways, negative and positive. I’ll deal with the negative first and a few ways to combat it.
The biggest negative of the silly season is the amount of people on the water. Ever heard of the early bird catches the worm, well it’s the same with fishing. The early fisher catches the fish, or at least has the place to themselves. So get on the water early and beat the crowds.
One way of doing this is by having all your gear prepped and ready to go the night before. I like to have the boat fully packed, rods rigged, camera gear stowed and food and drinks ready to go. And if I’m fishing on foot a backpack set up with a little tackle box, camera, water bottle, muesli bar and a rod rigged for the intended target species. This enables me to get up just before first light, out of the house and on the water when the sun is just creeping over the horizon. If you do this, then you have the best chance to maximise your time on the water before the crowds roll in and the day warms up.
The positive side is the fishing that is available brings many opportunities to tangle with a variety of species. Generally, I go with a plan to target a particular species, and I will fish hard for the intended species and head home when I’m done.
Primary estuary targets will be whiting, bream, flathead and mulloway. Freshwater will certainly be on the cards with the obvious species being Australian bass. Off the beaches whiting and mulloway will be on the cards. And for those heading offshore you’ll have a host of pelagics, kingfish, mahi mahi and snapper on offer. So make a game plan or keep your options open and varied, just make sure you have a good time on the water.
Whiting fishing excites me greatly this month. Not only for the tasty meal but the adrenalin rush these relatively small fish can give when they take your bait or lure when fishing light line. Good spots for bait fishing this month will be the sandy banks up river of Dennis Bridge and around Blackmans Point. Live worms are the optimum bait, although yabbies will also prove reliable in getting a feed.
I like to hunt whiting at this time of year with surface lures; either in the boat or on foot. I prefer on foot as you feel more at one with the water and the quarry. Walking the flats at Lake Cathie or Googleys Lagoon on the Camden Haven can produce some fine whiting. And to catching them on a pencil surface lures or poppers is a pure thrill, especially when they fight all the way to your feet or even take a lure right at your rod tip in front of you. I work the lure extremely fast until I find the speed they like. When a fish tracks behind your lure, do not pause it. As this will often spook away the fish. Keep it moving until you hear the drag go, then set the hook and enjoy the fight. If you want to do this out of the boat then top spots are the flats around the mouth of the Maria River and the flats opposite Port Macquarie’s Town Green, although this is an early morning spot to beat the swimmers, surf skis and paddle board riders.
Other species to target this month will be bream, flathead and mulloway. All of these species at this time of year will be spread through out our system. With out some decent rain on the predicted horizon, that should continue through out the summer.
Best places to locate them will be structure that will hold baitfish. Look for spots where the water flow is changed due to artificial or natural structure. This could be a jetty, pontoon, oyster lease or trees. Don’t forget to read the water and use your sounder to look for sudden and subtle changes in depth; these will also change the water flow and cause bait fish to school and your intended target species to be lurking nearby ready for an easy feed.
Three locations that people often miss when looking for these things are as follows:
Firstly, mangrove edges. The majority of mangrove-lined banks have small gutters along them that are slightly deeper and will hold fish.
Secondly, rock bars and discarded debris that is only visible at low tide. Sometimes it’s good to go for a fish at some really low tides and make note of possible spots to fish on run-in and top of the tide.
Lastly weed beds, no real secret there. But one thing that got me excited recently, is that black swans have come back to Port Macquarie and have been spending time on the weed flats in Big Bay. We haven’t seen this for near on 10 years and last time we did the weed grew thick and was a very productive fishery. Hopefully this is a good sign and there will be plenty of predatory fish, like flathead, bream and mulloway, freely feeding around the weed on the flats.
Best baits for these locations will always be fresh prawns, yabbies and worms. If you’re throwing lures then a shallow diver with a wide action for flathead and a tighter more subtle action for bream. I also love to throw sinking stick baits and twitch and wiggle them during the retrieve to imitate injured baitfish and prawns. Surface lures will also work fine over the weed in the early hours.
Bass fishing should be good this season and by all accounts the early fish this season have been in good condition and some reports of good numbers being caught in the Hastings and Maria rivers. The Camden Haven River up stream of Kew will also be a top place to drop in the canoe or kayak and go for a paddle to catch bass. Surface lures are always my starting point. However, early season bass have been very partial to spinnerbaits with browns and gold colours working well, along with the ever-reliable purple colours.
So no matter how you look at the silly season, you can make the most of your fishing and have a good time. So please take care over the Christmas Season and I hope you get some nice fishing goodies under the tree and that you have some quality time on the water.Reads: 781