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Ramping things up
  |  First Published: August 2014



The Forster Harbour boat ramp upgrade is complete and it’s a vast improvement over the old ramp. There is a set of concrete stairs leading to the beach next to the raised edge of the grooved ramp, and this will make things easier on old and unsure legs. There should be no excuse either for dropping a trailer tyre off the edge of the ramp except total uselessness! The ramp seems to have enough length for the bigger boats, and all-in-all it’s a job well done.

The seasonal transition of fishing hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. An early flurry of pigs from the rocks was stifled with warmish and gin clear water through June. Even on rough days the water made the fish very hard to catch so leaders down to 10lb were needed.

Spinning for tailor and salmon has been difficult with the acres of garfish and other bait giving the predators a 24/7 takeaway option. It is unusual to spin for an hour and not even get a hit, with the exception of foul hooking pencil long garfish, two gannets and a tern (damn those gannets are quick and accurate).

I have no hesitation is suggesting this month things will improve markedly. Most people I’ve spoken to have had to resort to cold and late night sessions to get a decent bag of fish from the rocks, walls or beach. The Tuncurry and Forster walls have been fishing well of a night for bream and school mulloway, though many of the schoolies are well under the 70cm size limit. Bouncing soft plastics through from the last hour of the run-out to the first hour of run-in is best.

I fished the Tuncurry wall at 3:30am the other week and there was a good population of anglers already littering the wall. A couple of anglers were using squid hoods and had managed a few schoolies (released), and another had a bucket of yellowtail that he had converted into a fish of around 13kg. One thing I did see, while staring into the water, was two large tiger prawns swimming back against the run-out tide. Each was about a 30cm long (yes, a foot long) and I managed to lift one with the tip of my rod, which made it skip, indelicately, across the surface. I do know a fellow that did a couple of late season prawn darks and managed to scoop almost 30kg in two nights of tiger prawns from the lake. Makes you think, what do we miss restricting our prawning to the warmer months?

We may be hitting the big end of winter but it has been a funny season so far. To date the salmon have been restricted to a few patches and the tailor have been prone to a fair Houdini job too. Clear water is one reason it is hard to catch a good bag, and the fish are just not as thick as they have been in earlier years. I know it will improve once we get a decent push of cooler water that stirs things up. One indicator that fishing is crap is when you hook a small wirrah cod (a boot) only to have it eaten by a bigger wirrah cod, plus, you land both of them and that is the most exciting thing you have caught ALL day.

The rocks to the south of Forster, I have heard, are fishing better than Bennetts Head or Blackhead. The beaches have been faring better, with tailor and bream holding in and behind the waves, so the sandy stretch is by far the best chance of fresh fillets if you’re not out in a boat. Janies Corner and Seven Mile have been the most consistent of the beaches by far, with pilchard baits on ganged hooks or metal lures worked over the gutters and out wide of the break producing results.

The lake and leases have some stonker bream hanging on them. The bream seem to be in patches or schools with one lease being empty and the next lease full of hungry fish. I guess it is just a seasonal aggregation thing but many of the fish are like polished silver and very fit.

If you want numbers, live yabbies are the gun bait. Green prawns, bread and chicken strips have been attracting the love too. A slowly hopped 2” Gulp Shrimp worked exceptionally well for me last trip and it out-fished fresh peeled green prawns almost two to one.

Small legal flathead are still hanging around over flats areas like Ohas Bay and Regatta Island. Most will eventually make their way up into the tributaries where they will take on a coal black colouration and hole up over winter. If you have the time and patience, soaking live yabbies up one of the tributaries (I like the Wallamba River) on a deeper bend you will find some big whiting, flathead and a few pesky rat bream. It is a nice way to enjoy a sunny winter’s day.

OFFSHORE

Offshore, the only thing you can rely on is the good old leatherjackets. Anglers curse them but the reality is they are not too bad on the table. The snapper are moving closer inshore and if you have a good sounder it pays to investigate the reef or high ground for schools of jackets before wasting lures for snapper. Some plate sized pinkies have been coming from Latitude Rock and I’m told there wasn’t a jacket to be seen.

Flathead have been consistent over the sand and rough ground, along with sergeant baker and the odd pearl perch.

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