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Go upstream for spring
  |  First Published: September 2014



Things are starting to warm up on land but not so much offshore. That’s OK though, because the warmth is seeping into the upper reaches of the estuaries, brackish, freshwater and impoundments. This is an exciting time of year for fishing and you don’t need a luxurious game boat or a million dollars, just a handful of lures and a packet of bait.

Starting in the upper sections of the estuaries, fish will migrate back into the systems and head upstream to the warmer water and better feeding areas. In those lakes that are closed to the ocean and not allowing fresh stocks of fish to enter, finned residents of these waters will congregate in the warm shallower margins of the upper stream and flats.

Look for fish in areas you would not normally expect to find reasonable numbers. Areas like Narira Creeks, up the back of Wallaga Lake, are prime spots. Bream especially will be seen with their tails protruding out of the water as they nose in the gravel for crabs, worms and such, usually in the middle of the creeks. This is a great time to target these fish with lures and with a good set of Polaroids, as it will provide some of the best visual fishing on the South Coast.

Small hard bodied lures are my pick although plastics can also be effective and of course bait fishing will be extremely productive. Other species regularly encountered are luderick, flathead, mullet and bass returning from spawning.

In the estuaries that are open to the ocean the upper tidal flats that are exposed at low tide and then covered with enough water at high tide will provide some excellent bait fishing. These flats will often pay host to large nipper and worm beds with weedy areas surrounding them, providing cover. Well placed baits will take a wide variety of grazing fish as they work the flats over. Use ultra light line with very little drag and allow the fish to have its head when hooked. Bream are especially sought after using this method, and some of the first runs can be sizzling.

Not all the fish in the estuaries will be encountered on the flats. Drop-offs, weed beds and rocky outcrops will produce their fair share, as tides fall carrying the rich nutrients and warmer water coming off the flats and out of the mangrove swamps. Bait fishing is extremely good and lure fishing will also produce the goods, particularly on large dusky flathead.

FRESHWATER

Moving further inland to the brackish and freshwater, now is the time to intercept bass as they return to the fresh after spawning. Hopefully the spring rains and warmer water will allow the bass to migrate inland to their summer feeding grounds, and with this most of the eastern flowing streams will host fish. Estuary perch may also be a regular catch while targeting bass, especially in the brackish margins.

Lure fishing is extremely good. Searching the deeper holes with lures like spinnerbaits, soft plastics and deep diving hardbodies can produce surprisingly large fish for this time of year. You should also keep an eye out this month for those balmy days that will produce early insect hatches. This is the time to attack bass with a variety of surface lures.

Bass in Brogo Dam are also on the move. Evenings after a warm spring day will often be the best, with both surface and sub-surface lures working. Bait will be more productive than other methods, however I still find this time of year to be a little early for the dam.

OFFSHORE

Offshore is actually at its worst at this time of year, with water temps at their lowest – or near enough. Gamefishing will probably be poor to non-existent. With water temps around 14-15°C, you’re only likely to encounter sharks and the odd bluefin tuna.

Reef or bottom fishing can be good though, with anglers targeting the 50-70m depth range as large tiger flathead return to the area. These fish are regular catches in the spring months along with morwong, snapper and other assorted reef species. If you strike some good, calm seas you can fish the deep water off the Twelve Mile Reef for even larger tiger flathead and maybe some Tassie trumpeter.

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