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Go early to find fish
  |  First Published: December 2013



The summer season on the Mid North Coast is as close to perfect as you can get. The early morning sunrise and the warming, clear water of the lake and estuary encourage fish activity throughout the system. The bait schools get pushed inshore by the north-easterly winds and with them come the predators like kingfish, cobia tuna and marlin.

The beaches also spark up with school jew, whiting, bream and dart while the surf fringes and rock washes protect schools of tailor and bonito. It’s definitely a good time to be an angler in and around Forster and Tuncurry.

In spite of the growth in the holiday population there are always options to escape the crowd and enjoy a peaceful, undisturbed fishing session. The best way to avoid the crowds of people and jet skis is to start early and be off the water by 10am or so. Alternatively, you could just head further afield in the lake and rivers to escape. The upper reaches of the Wallamba, Coolongolook and Wallingat rivers will produce heaps of pan-sized flathead, along with bream that have pushed up the rivers to take advantage of the growing prawns.

THE LAKE

Through summer the lake will provide as many fishing options as it possibly can. Everything from garfish, mullet and leatherjackets to bream, flathead and stud whiting are on offer, and it is just a matter of gearing up and taking advantage of it. Bread berley, from an anchored boat over a shallow weeded area will soon have gar, mullet and bream busting through the surface. The garfish and mullet make ideal whole or cut bait for jew, tailor, bonito and bream so it is worth the effort to collect some for future use.

CRABS AND PRAWNS

Reports suggest that the mud crabs have been fairly active in the rivers and around the Forster Keys/Pipers Bay areas while the blue swimmers in the lake are a little spasmodic. The weedy edges from The Step to Pipers Bay have produced, as has the area west of Yahoo Island. Remember that there is a location restriction on crab traps and witches hats and they cannot be set bridge side of a line from Hell’s Gate to the Tuncurry boat ramp.

Prawning in the channels and around the bridge on the dark of the moon has been brilliant. Large king prawns as well as the channel prawns have been in enough numbers to satisfy most anglers, and there’s the added bonus of blue swimmers and squid to make the late nights/early mornings well worthwhile. Breckenridge channel is by far the most popular spot to dip a net, though there are plenty of other locations that will produce. My hint is to find the pelicans and you’ll find the best run of prawns.

LAND-BASED

Reports from the break wall are scarce, with the usual holiday crowd casting all manner of tackle from the walls. Live pike on the slack tide is your best chance of a decent mulloway, while lightly-weighted prawn or yabby baits drifted with the current will produce bream.

Yabby baits are also brilliant for casting around the shallow gutters on the beaches over summer, and with light gear you can have a ball on whiting and dart. Some whiting have moved out onto the beaches after spawning and will remain on the sandy strip until late autumn, so take advantage of it. Beachworms are perhaps the best of the baits off the beach, and with the warmer weather they should be very active and hungry along Seven Mile beach. Beachworms are also available to buy from boat sheds like Blue Peters.

OFFSHORE

Offshore there should be good schools of bonito turning up and a quick troll will locate them. At this time of year the mahi mahi (dolphinfish) should be around the FAD and the kingfish will be over the heavier reefs from Crowdy Head to Seal Rocks. Some small snapper, trag jew and sand flathead are the mainstay of the bottom bouncers.

My pick for the month has to be bream on surface lures up the rivers. It’s away from the crowds and some of the fish are around the 1kg mark and at that size, on the surface, they are hard to go past.

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