We’ve had possibly one of the driest and coolest winters we’ve seen on the Mid-North Coast in years, so let’s hope we some rain this month so it will ad a little colour to our estuarine systems.
Why do we want a little colour in the water? Because at the time of writing the Hastings River is as clear as a bottle of gin. The fish don’t seem to mind this and get about their daily routines, but the clarity does make them a lot harder to catch in daylight hours. It’s amazing how a little colour in the water can make a world of difference. It seems to relax fish and entices them to bite more confidently. Water clarity doesn’t just affect bream – it affects most estuarine species – but bream are one of the hardest to fool.
If you’re looking for a good feed of bream, evening sessions will undoubtedly be your best option. The best locations will be deeper holes in the lower reaches, but with little rain bream will start to push up our estuaries this month. That means spots around Rawdon Island on the Hastings River, The Hatch on the Maria River will be good places to start. The rock walls in the lower reaches will also be good locations to source fish.
The best bait will be whitebait rigged on either a set of small ganged hooks or a long shank hook with a half hitch around the tail to make the bait sit flat on the hook. Fishing them lightly weighted and allowing them to drift down the water column is a highly efficient way to catch a bream. Slab baits of bonito and mullet will also work well.
Those chasing a feed of luderick will do no better than soaking some weed along our rock walls. However this time of year will see them pushing further up our systems. With good locations to target them from the bank at a premium, the number one position on the Camden Haven River will be at Henry Kendall Reserve on Stingray Creek. This man-made rock wall has been a solid producer of luderick for years and will prove to be a top location this month.
For those with a boat, getting into the leases and fishing the channels with some decent flow will also prove highly successful. The top spots are in Limeburner’s Creek of the Hastings River, and the old abandoned leases in the mouth of the Maria River. Weed will be a go to bait, however live yabbies and peeled prawns will also yield good results.
Flathead will start moving around and looking to feed up after a cool winter. With an increase in water temps baitfish will be plentiful, and flathead will be looking to put on some weight and eat up before summer. That means that targeting flathead will be a bit of fun, and if you’re lucky you might snag a few bigger fish.
The best bait will be live poddy mullet for sure, especially when targeting bigger fish. However, if you’re after a feed you can’t go past a few well-presented soft plastics. Anything in the 3-5” range on a 1/8oz to 1/4oz jighead will prove successful.
I regularly get asked why I vary the weight for flathead, seeing as these fish simply lie on the bottom ready to ambush their prey. I explain that the water depth determines what prey you’re imitating. I like to use a lighter weight in shallow water because their prey in these waters will be smaller and less likely to make a big disturbance on the bottom. In deeper water the flathead target bigger prey, which will disturb the bottom. In this situation disturbance will gain their attention, and if they are hungry it will entice them to move in search of an easy feed.
I like to impart an action of a fleeing baitfish by flicking my rod tip high, lifting the lure off the bottom then allowing it to settle again on the bottom before repeating the process. Just remember to please take what you need rather than your limit.
Offshore action this month will see the inshore reefs starting to fire, with snapper being the primary target species. Soft plastics will account for many of them but dedicated bait fishermen will know a decent snapper can’t resist a well-presented squid bait.
If the currents aren’t fierce, anchoring on the inshore reefs off the golf course and Bonny Hills in around 10-15m of water will be worth a try. A berley trail will also increase your chances, and another asset when targeting fish in this manner is a good sounder. It will enable you to locate fish and find a suitable bottom where you can anchor and set up for a session on snapper.
Those venturing further offshore will likely still do battle with leatherjackets. If they are your cup of tea, some wire trace will be in order and any cut bait will have you into some decent fish.
After a cracker season on bass last year it will be interesting to see how our native freshwater fish go this season. With very little rain the fish won’t have as much chance to push really far upstream. It could possibly be a bumper season as they will more than likely school in larger pools upriver of Wauchope around Koree Island, Brombin and Hardys Plains. Canoe runs will prove to be the best option with early season fish, being more susceptible to hardbody lures, spinner baits and soft plastics. It will be a matter of locating fish and concentrating your efforts in those areas.
The tops and bottoms of the pools are the best places to start. Just remember to look after your catch and return fish to the water as quickly as possible to minimise stress to the fish, and remember that bass and estuary perch have a bag limit of two fish.
So we have some warmer weather, favourable conditions for fishing and some good fish on offer. Bring it on! I love spring, it signals the end of winter and reminds us that summer isn’t far away. Make sure you make the most of your fishing and enjoy your time on the water no matter what form of fishing you are enjoying.Reads: 497