No need to be crabby
  |  First Published: May 2014

What I love about autumn is the transition from summer to winter and the crossover of species. This crossover sees the last of the warm currents trickling down the coast, bring it with it the mahi mahi (dolphinfish), marlin, cobia and numerous tunas.

The weather, too, is more settled and boating access to these fish is far easier at this time of year, and plenty of anglers are taking advantage. The rafts of sea garfish and other baitfish have encouraged many of the predators inshore, and the land-based game anglers are reaping the rewards. There have been plenty of reports of mac tuna, bonito and a few cobia from the stones, and reports of longtails are also filtering through.

Charlottes, Flat Rock and even Bennetts Head are obvious choices for spinning or live baiting large pelagic fish. However, headlands are also the spots to looking at to catch the first of the winter run fish such as bream and blackfish from the estuaries. Pigs or rock blackfish are gearing up and willing to take offerings of cunjevoi, cooked and green prawns as well as bread. The coastal rocks have a good feel about them at this stage and I’d encourage those who haven’t hit the stones for a while to get out and reconnect with the pleasure of rock fishing.

The last few months I’ve been crabbing in the lake and rivers of the Wallis Lake system and I have almost got to the stage where I’m sick of eating blue swimmer and mud crabs. It’s a big call, but the season has been that good. This month is probably the last of the run for the crabs before they slow down and make it too much trouble to set witches’ hats or rebait the pot. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still find the crabs but nothing like the numbers they were since Christmas. So if you want an easy feed of sweet crab I recommend you do it now.

The usual gathering of bream for the winter run has commenced and I would suggest some have already gone. For those remaining around the leases in the lower lake there is a sure-fire way of catching them, and that is bread. Moulded around a single, unweighted hook and drifted down between the leases, you are on a winner (you will also lose gear to fish you will not stop). If the fishing goes quiet you simply need to introduce a few crusts as berley and have them sink slowly into your fishing zone. Ideally the slackening tides are best and I have found lower tide is better as it concentrates the fish and gives them less to bust you off on.

As an example of how quickly fish recover after being hooked and lost, I lost a 900g fish late one afternoon, along with the leader and a metre of braid. The next morning I caught the same fish in the same spot just 12 hours after it was lost. The Nitro jighead 1/24oz was still firmly wedged in the top of the bream’s mouth. The second time I hooked the fish he zigged when he should have zagged!

Along with the bream there are plenty of garfish, sand mullet and even leatherjackets willing to eat the white carbs. If nothing else, incorporate some bread berley in your bait fishing, it will increase your bream catch and the activity it creates will draw fish like flathead to the area.

There are still some good flathead in and around the Paddocks and Breckenridge Channel, and DOA Shrimp and Zerek or Ecooda shrimp are smashing them. I was lucky enough to see a flathead of 1.4m last week move out of 60cm of water and glide directly under me. As she passed she was three and a bit lease pole long. The lease poles were 1.4m apart and even though she breached the third pole I’m happy to call her 1.4m without fear of exaggeration. One of my two boys thought it was a shark, and the other said “that’s a (f-bomb) big flathead!” Oops.

I’ve found that a 3” Gulp Shrimp or Grub tail on a 1/8oz jighead is sufficient to cover the shallow depth of the flats and drop-offs of the lower lake. Pink Squidgy Fish too are popular, not just with anglers but the fish as well.

The blackfish are also gathering in the lower lake with schools of hundreds milling in and around the leases. There is no better time to take advantage of the competition in the numbers than now. A good anchorage close to the lease wash boards and well weighted weed baits drifted back, and you are in business I reckon.

There is more than enough to distract anglers from their lives this month so make the most of the settled weather and seas and get out and do it.

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