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Bounty for the bold
  |  First Published: June 2014



The bite of winter weather has made its presence felt and has thinned the crowds on the lake and nearby coastal rocks, which is a bonus for those who have the motivation to get up and out there.

The bream and blackfish schools are still pretty thick around the leases near the bridge, though the bulk of the fish have moved out onto the coastal fringe with the mullet. I suspect there will be a good run of blackfish and bream from Seal Rocks to Crowdy Head this year if the early indications are anything to go by. Pick a couple of headland spots like southern One Mile, Burgess Beach and Elizabeth Beach and work the washes until you hit the mother lode.

Pigs are getting their act together and I have to admit that the few times I have targeted them in the last month the quality has been good. The only problem has been that a lot of the fish have been over 3kg and outside of my table target size of 1.5-2kg. The big fish are good to catch in the broken, reefy country but most have been released because they are too big for my needs (larger fish have poorer eating qualities). Not a bad problem to have.

I’m sure the pigs will only get better as the water and the weather chills down a bit more. The cost of the imported cooked prawns is ridiculous and I’ve taken to using green Australian king prawns ($2.50kg cheaper) or just a quality loaf of bread – crusts for berley and body for bait.

Spinning the rocks will produce a mix of tailor and salmon with the obvious lure choice being metal slice types like Raiders – for no other reason than you can get a good distance cast with the metal lures and the fish do like them. If you feel like something a bit different, try throwing a stickbait. They work extremely well when the tailor and salmon are close into the rocks, hunting under the washes.

There is still a good chance of a mack tuna and bonito, especially Watson’s leaping bonito, getting involved with the spinning activities. They all make excellent flesh baits for bream on an evening rising tide.

Tailor and bream are good targets from the beaches with some formations still holding quality fish. It has been a while since I’ve seen good gutter formations on our beaches but I think the migration of sand into a lot of my rock fishing spots is a penalty. We need a big, scouring southeasterly swell to drag the sand back off the rocks and the potholes so we can enjoy the winter, night time run of blackfish.

Surprisingly there are a few silver trevally getting along the beaches, generally at the rocky ends, and while they do seem a little early they are a welcome fight for lucky anglers.

OFFSHORE

The offshore scene has been hot and cold with plenty of mahi mahi around the traps and the FAD while the marlin have slowed, with fruitless hours of trolling becoming the norm. There have been a few boats trolling off Pacific Palms but I haven’t heard of too much joy. Large cobia and tuna have the ability to break the boredom so try trolling a live slimy at the back of the boat wash.

Longtail and mac tuna have been blowing up along the rocky headlands and with them, heaps of sharks that are only too willing to hammer fish in distress. Goo Baker landed a 15kg longtail from Charlottes on a live bait and there have been plenty more reports of land-based captures filtering through. A slow troll past the headland points with livies wouldn’t be a bad idea at the moment.

The cleaning tables at the Forster ramp have seen some good flathead bags along with the odd snapper and pearl perch. The talk is that it has been tough bouncing the bottom but that will certainly improve from this month until we hit leatherjacket season in September/October, then all bets are off.

LAKE

Winter is definitely the big bream time in the lower lake. Some of the crusty river resident fish, with a reluctance to spawn, are flushed out of the tributaries by the cold water and take up station on the leases.

The benefit of the lower leases is there are always some good fish in the area. They may be late spawners getting ready to leave, early spawners coming back in or ambivalent fish that may or may not run – either way it’s a bounty for those anglers willing to put in some time of an evening. The cool water is generally very clear and the fish are spooky. Of an evening try drifting bread or live yabbies back between the rack or along the outside edges of wash boards and see if you can clean up on big bream.

One lure that has had a great deal of demand and hype attributed to it is the Cranka Crab and I have been using it to great effect of an evening. I have been drifting my Crabs down to the bottom and then dead sticking them until the line stops or I feel the pluck of a fish. Bream love them and BIG porcupine puffers crunch them... but that’s the price you pay I guess.

So before the weather turns bitterly cold there’s lots to do and catch so I suggest you get out and do it. It’s only going to get colder from here!

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