Prime game water
  |  First Published: February 2007

Swansea has been blessed with some of the most productive warm, blue currents harbouring masses of schools of slimy mackerel, striped tuna and flying fish – prime game fish water.

The bird life of shearwaters, gannets, albatross and ‘marlin birds’ are an encouraging sight as you approach the 180m depths and as they soar and dive through the warm air you can’t help but feel the anticipation and adrenaline rush as the lures are fed into the blue water.

Last issue I spoke of the first marlin of the Lake Macquarie game season and predicted increased baitfish and plenty more billfish. Early last month my business partner and best friend Jason Nunn, crewman Mick Walker, skipper Duncan Manderson and owner of Mariner 43 Running Bear George Clift ventured north-east off Swansea to test the waters. They came up trumps and with three marlin tagged for the day and one of those fish had the courtesy to drop in, with a remora attached, for a photo shoot.

Matt Bandy and I also had some luck on a recent trip to the shelf off Swansea and had a hand in helping Jason Gates to his first marlin catch and release.


For those with GPS chart plotters it’s pretty easy to find the underwater canyon and continental shelf contour lines which indicate the depth change from shallow water to deep. These defined high ledges and cliffs in 200m are where the currents clash and cause an upwelling of turbulent water which harbours the baitfish which are meals for the tuna, marlin, mahi mahi and sharks.

Once you have located this broad area you need to use your fish finder, which should be colour and at least 600 watts. You need to keep one eye on the screen to locate the schools or balls of baitfish as these are the isolated spots where the bigger fish are.

These are the areas to concentrate your lure pattern or livebaits. Don’t be afraid to stop and attach a 200g snapper lead to the livie and drop it down to the depth of the bait school, just hold on!

Some other fish-locating indicators are current lines (patches where moving and stationary water meet), flotsam (floating timber etc) and of course bird life.

For those without chart plotters, call me or email and I’ll supply the locations.


Lake Macquarie has been exciting to say the least and this month will be no different.

The lake’s rim is alive with flathead. These fish tend to spend most of their time in depths of 1m to 4m in search of baitfish. With the warmer waters this month , the big females will be around so be sure to release fish over 2kg. Why? When flathead grow to this size the smaller male fish turn into females and most of these bigger fish will be in roe. Take a photo and let them go, to breed.

Best locations are where the sand and seaweed meet. Try Crangan Bay, Wyee Bay, Green Point and the best spot of all, the shore around Swansea east.


The best dead baits to use are whitebait. Thread two or three through the eyes onto a 3/0 or 4/0 long-shank hook. Small pilchards on ganged hooks and last but not least, a fine strip of mullet fillet, are also worthwhile.

The premium livebaits are, of course, poddy mullet, which are abundant throughout the lake. You could also use herring, which can be caught on bait sabiki-style bait jigs.

Lure selection can be daunting because of the options available. Stick to one or two hard bodies and three or four soft plastics and you can’t go wrong.

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