It seems that the weather can be all or nothing. After a prolonged dry spell, we managed to get a good coastal and tableland soaking through January and into February. It was enough to revive the miserable flow in the freshwater streams and rivers, and as a result the whole system is better for it. One thing it didn’t do was move any of the thick beds of weed that basked and grew in the summer heat, and almost choked some sections of the freshwater pools.
If you are hunting bass, the weed can be a problem, but with the increased water flow it helps keep the growth from floating to the top and makes surface fishing at night and early morning far more successful. Lures don’t get caught up as much, and it gives the fish a good clear water margin to attack your lures in. Where weed is still an issue, there are generally pockets of clear water that can be fished with weedless lures like Arrow Fish Cover Cicadas or Live Target Frogs. They are also lures you can cast to heavy cover and gently extract without fouling on snags.
The bass have been enjoying the rises in the river. Many take advantage of newly flooded ground, where they find insects and drowning worms, so fish the edges and eddied backwaters for fish that may have snuck in for a feed.
Another nocturnal activity to stick in the calendar around the 17-23 February (the 19th new moon) is a prawning session. Be prepared for a late, long night though, as the lake high around 10.30pm means the end of the run-out is in the wee hours of the following morning.
The prawn runs have been pretty decent though, with some large tiger prawns heading them. As a general rule, the tigers will get bigger and better up to May. Taking up a position in Breckenridge Channel is the obvious spot for a feed of prawns, but spots further afield can produce better catches. The Paddock side of the bridge (without blocking the passages), Hells Gate end of Breckenridge, and the channel that runs out from the Great Lakes Caravan Park past the oyster sheds just up from the Tuncurry boat ramp, are also prime spots.
Breckenridge Channel along Little Street is well worth a wade with a submersible light to scoop the male blue swimmers that get along the shallow sand and weedy patches. A lightly weighted live prawn out the back of the boat or from the bank while prawning should secure a feed of big whiting, bream and flathead, so make the most of the time out in the dark and fish too.
The offshore fishing is better during the prawn run, with twilight trag, pinky snapper and reliable flathead all on tap. The new moon period is always a good time to fish, from bass to bluewater. For the more adventurous and hopeful, there has been a scattering of small black marlin in close to the coast, along with cobia and mahimahi hanging at the traps and the FAD. Bonito schools, mac tuna and the odd longtail are all contributing to the game fish lucky dip for those anglers skilled or lucky enough to find the warmer water. Heading north from Forster may produce the results, but consulting sea temperature charts for updated information is a must. There has been a stream of 26-28 degree water coming south, and with it some handy bait balls.
This month onward sees many of the male flathead disperse from around the spawning females that have dominated their interest over the summer months. It will mean the legal size males are a bit more common in the day’s catch, and don’t discount the shallow edges of the island like Regatta and Wallis. The growing baitfish flood the shallows around the islands, and this in turn draws the flathead in for a feed. The patchy weed beds are ideal cover, and prawn or minnow style plastics are best. Yabby and prawn baits will generally be set upon by frustrating numbers of small bream and snapper, so bait fishing should perhaps involve poddy mullet.
Janie’s Corner has lost some sand and is a little dangerous for anyone doing a night fish that is unaware of this. The missing sand doesn’t make Janie’s any less productive for tailor and a few early salmon though. Beach gutters and hole structure is not fantastic, but this can change quickly, so a scout in daylight before your session is the best way to ensure you are fishing the best water. I hear One Mile Beach has been fishing well on the south end around the rocks, while Blueys Beach at the north end has surrendered a few mulloway. These were caught on slow rolled paddle tail plastics, but I’m sure a big bunch of beachworms would produce the goods too.
Rock and breakwall fishing has been okay, but nothing to rave about. Lots of berley from the stones will help, and there are a surprising number of pigs and bream hanging around. Spinning for bonito, macks and tailor is an option, but you will have to find the bait schools because it is like a desert otherwise.
Drop lizards (eastern water dragons) and bass fishing are a given, but they can ruin a great cast. When you see the tongue start to roll out, you know your lure is in trouble.
The Zerek Prawn is the ideal size to throw around the flats, and looks good enough to eat!
A good evening haul of channel prawns. Considering the time and effort it takes to go prawning, the experience and fun is still well worth it.
A bass sitting on a snag in clear water, just waiting for a lure. The clarification of the closed season means year-round fishing in the freshwater and tidal areas for post-spawn fish.Reads: 452