Patchy weather rewards anglers
  |  First Published: December 2013

Those anglers braving the extreme conditions we have experienced lately have been rewarded with some amazing fishing.

The waters have warmed and the shallow sand flats have come alive with a healthy mix of bream, flathead, whiting, yellow-eye mullet and garfish, especially along Cunningham Arm and around Barrier Landing along the shallow weed banks.

Anchoring along the deeper drop-offs and using live shrimp or fresh mussel are perfect baits for whiting and trevally. Live prawn or bluebait have accounted for flathead to 80cm and some nice yellowfin bream and the odd pinky snapper to around 1kg.

Fish the last 2 and first 2 hours of either tide change and don’t forget a little berley if things are quiet.

The local town jetties have been fishing well for trevally and tailor on soft plastics and metal lures. Fishing with larger soft plastics on the drop-offs and weed edges has seen some huge flatties caught and released (remember the maximum size limit has been changed to 55cm to protect the breeding stock). Plenty of flathead well within the 30-55cm size range have been caught and are excellent table fare. Natural colours are always a winner, but when things are quiet it often pays to throw some oddball colours like bright pink or chartreuse to entice a reaction bite.

The local rock walls are fishing well for some thumping big luderick on green weed fished traditionally under a float. Fishing just out from the rock walls expect to catch numbers of small salmon, trevally, pan size pinky snapper and some good size whiting, and even the chance of a few big yank flathead.

Best baits here are prawns and pilchards simply cast out and allowed to bounce along the bottom with the tide. Daylight and dusk have been best times to target most species, while the luderick can be targeted right throughout the day.

Offshore has been nothing short of brilliant with some thumping snapper over 11kg being taken by anglers fishing the 6 Mile Reef and down to the west at marks like the pipeline and the tower. Fresh bait is best and slimy mackerel and squid are hard to beat, especially if caught where you’re fishing.

There have been plenty of smaller pinky snapper to 2kg making up anglers bags and are perfect eating size.

Along with the snapper have been awesome numbers of gummy sharks with most boats bagging out with ease. While majority have been 3-4ft there have been multiple reports of thumpers up to 7ft long caught on bigger baits like whole mackerel and eel.

Some nice morwong and leatherjackets are hanging around the reef too and are a welcome by-catch.

Out wide early reports of mako sharks have filtered through with sharks around 40-50kg following schools of striped tuna, so keep an eye out for birds working patches of bait and the predators wont be far away. A good berley trail is essential for success on bigger sharks and any fish scraps, tuna oil and old bait are perfect for the job.

Back in the estuary and on the calm evenings some have been making the most of the prawns that have been in solid numbers on all the sand banks throughout the lower system. Simply walking the shallows with a light and dip net should see a few kilograms of these tasty little guys and enough for a few sessions worth of bait fishing. Added to this, is plenty of big flounder that are easily caught with either a 2-prong spear or in the dip net.

Make sure you wear footwear though as the last thing you want to encounter is a sting from those spiky little cobblers. They are an absolute nightmare and if spiked make sure you immerse the stung area in hot water (as hot as you can handle) as this will release the poison.

Lake Tyers has been fishing well with bream and flathead on basically every shallow sand bank and rock bar in the lower system. Drifting with baits of live prawns or salmon strips is a deadly way of catching both species. So is walking or drifting the flats throwing lightly weighted soft plastic prawn patterns and shallow diving hardbodies. This is a fun way of targeting those fish you can see in extremely shallow water and the sight of a big lit up bream smashing a lure is hard to beat!

On those overcast days head for the shallowest banks and throw some surface poppers around and expect to catch some great flathead. Popping for flathead is far from new and is very exciting. Anything in the 45-70mm bracket are perfect for the job, just remember to use slightly heavier leader as there are still some huge tailor that will sneak up and smash a tiny popper.

The prawns have been a little slow but as we get further into summer this should improve. Sand crabs have been thick around the number 2 boat ramp.

The surf beaches have been fishing well with big salmon caught on bluebait and pilchard on the run-in tide all the way along the 90 Mile Beach. Lake Tyers Beach and Lake Bunga Beach have been the most productive areas and also puts you in with the chance of a few pinky snapper, which have been hanging around the shallow surf bommies.

A few of the local crews have been putting in the time chasing big sharks from the beach and it’s looking like it’s going to be a good season with some decent bronzies up to 8ft long already caught. Whole striped tuna, salmon and eel have been the most successful baits.

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