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Bountiful baitfish boosts bags
  |  First Published: April 2014



Estuary action is something I really look forward to at this time of year. There is an influx of baitfish in the system, which can really turn on the predatory species like bream, flathead and mulloway. Unfortunately, it can also work against you, as the fish are full of bait and it is sometimes impossible to get them to bite!

Bream will still be in the upper reaches, where previously cicada and fizzer style patterns were the number one choice; this will more than likely no longer be a viable option. They are still looking to feed on the surface but the quarry has changed, it’s prawns and baitfish they are after now. Pencil style lures are the best option with bigger lures generally pulling bigger fish.

If you encounter fish that just don’t seem switched on then it’s worth trying the ‘Monty Python’ approach as I call it – no matter how full you are you can always fit in an after dinner mint! And a small profile pencil lure or stick minnow is just that little delight the fish can’t refuse. A Tiemco surface pencil in floating or sinking can be a great option for enticing the bite. Top places to target bream in this way will be around mangrove edges where there is a change in water depth, over weed beds and around oyster leases. Limerburners Creek and Rawdon Island are good places to have some fun.

With the baitfish schooling, we normally get plenty of school mulloway, but sometimes there are so many they can be a pest, mainly due to their size. Nevertheless, you can’t beat the fight on light gear.

If you’re looking to get larger size mulloway and filter out the small ones then upsize your lure. Throwing bigger plastics will also get bigger fish. Best places this month are certainly along the coal walls in the lower reaches early in the morning or in the evening. Dennis Bridge will also be well worth a try. I like to drive towards the pylons with the sounder going about 300m before and see if I can see active fish schooled on approaching the pylon.

Best lures in this area are 4-6” soft plastics. I like to use jerkshad style plastics and 6” sandworms. A long slow hop along the bottom with pauses works really well. The start or last of the run-out is the best times. I like to start my drift under the bridge near a pylon and drift away hopping the plastic along the bottom. You’ll feel a gentle take on the lift and strong fluid set of the hook gets the best hook up and will generally pin them in the upper jaw or hinge of the mouth.

This time of year will see a lot of flathead in similar areas as mulloway, and are a great by-catch. My son loves to come fishing when I do this as he usually cracks the flathead pattern before me and has a ball reeling them in.

Flathead will also be lurking in the shallows and make an easy target. April is always a nice time to take a trip to the Camden Haven River and target lizards. The mouth of Stingray Creek is a great place to start. With live baits and soft plastic a good choice.

Another top spot on the Camden Haven this month is the flats at the mouth of Whatson Taylors Lake. Look for subtle changes in depth and try and target fish along the mangrove edges. Long repeated casts across an area covering as much water as you can locate fish, and in areas like these the fish tend to congregate and repeated catches in the same area are common.

Beach action this month will be interesting to say the least. Reports have been about that plenty of whiting have been on the beaches. Dunbogan Beach is the best spot followed by Lake Cathie Beach, and North Beach. Live beach worms have proven to be the best bait. Only thing that concerns me about this is people taking their limit, ducking home and coming back to get another. Why, do they really eat that much? Do they need to have so many fish in the freezer? Please do everyone a favour and take what you need not your limit, and if you see someone doing the wrong thing, have the intestinal fortitude to suggest they try to limit their catch.

Bass have still been in good numbers and willing to take a host of lures, although they are slowing down on surface lures. Crankbaits and vibes have accounted for most fish lately. I’ve been informed by a Fisheries mate that illegal eel traps are being set in the Hastings River. If you encounter any suspicious behaviour or traps then please note their location and take a photo if you can and alert Fisheries immediately. I’m told these traps have not only been responsible for the illegal removal of eels, but have caught bass and trapped and killed platypus. If we all keep a vigilant eye out then these individuals will either stop or be caught and put out of action.

No matter what you intend to do in the piscatorial world this month, make sure you enjoy yourself and the lovely weather that April can bring to the Hastings and the Macquarie Coast.

1

School mulloway will be all throughout the system and will take a host of lures. This one took a spinnerbait intended for bass.

2

Schools of bream, like these five, will be commonplace on surface lures around Rawdon Island.

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Baitfish style lures will yield good results on flathead, along with soft plastics.

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