Flatties kick into gear
  |  First Published: August 2015

In the past two years the weather warmed up quickly as soon as September rolled around. Let’s hope it happens again this year, as we’ve just had the coldest winter on the Central Coast I can ever remember.

Flathead are one of the first fish to really kick into gear as soon as water temps begin to rise. Although August isn’t a bad month for flathead, September is usually better. It seems as though the little bit of extra warmth is just what they need to spark up and feed a bit more aggressively. They also begin moving from deeper or upstream areas towards shallower water or down towards the lower reaches where flathead prefer to spawn. Even 55cm fish may be females with eggs in them at this time of year, so it’s a good idea to release them to help maintain local stocks.

As for specific places, The Entrance is the pick of the bunch for Tuggerah Lakes anglers, and while the flatties are always widespread around Brisbane Waters it would be hard to go wrong from Woy Woy through to Ettalong and St Huberts Island and down towards Half Tide Rocks.

Luderick are certainly still around and taking weed baits this month. However, as I’ve said before, they often become a bit fussy towards the end of the season and won’t always take the same type of baits that worked only weeks before.

My personal choice of bait is the soft, fluffy type of brown weed, which isn’t too hard to find around the shallow margins of the lakes. It can also pay to walk out in the water to find the best quality brown weed, rather than trying to just scrape up what you can find right on the shore. Being so soft it can be a bit tricky to keep it on the hook, but the fish really like it.

Bream and whiting also begin to stir up as the water warms. Last year bream suddenly sprang to life around the lakes here in the first week of September, and I think the same happened the year before. As mentioned though, warmer than average days were obviously the catalyst, as some years we didn’t experience good bream fishing in the lakes until late October or even November.

Salmon are exceptionally thick now around all of our local headlands, rocky points, bommies and along the beaches. Although the salmon have been around for a few months, it’s not uncommon for them to show up in the greatest numbers from late August through to early October. As ocean water temps begin to warm just a fraction, salmon also become more enthusiastic about hitting a variety of different lures, rather than being fussy and only biting slinky soft plastics.

Of course, anglers casting pilchard baits from the beaches can expect plenty of salmon, whether they’re wanted or not. While I do enjoy hooking into them, it doesn’t take long before I’d rather something else like a tailor or mulloway latch onto the bait. However, I’d still rather catch salmon than nothing, that’s for sure!

Unfortunately, the reality is that beach fishing doesn’t produce much else at this time of year. With a bit of persistence though, it can be possible to catch the odd mulloway, bream or tailor. Small baits cast very close, just beyond the shore dump, are the best bet to avoid salmon and attract a bream. Fishing after dark also increases the odds of a jewie, although salmon still take baits at night.

Rock fishing can be another tough game in September, with salmon being the most abundant target for those casting pilchard baits or lures. If the seas are very flat and wind is blowing from the northwest, don’t expect much else apart from a couple of salmon and the chance of groper with crab baits. On the other hand, bream, drummer and blackfish are a reasonable chance after a southerly blows through and some whitewash is around the rocks. Without that all-important wash, fish become quite wary customers.

Offshore isn’t overly great either, as we’re starting to reach that between seasons period. Still though, try close in around the bommies and headlands for tailor, trevally, pan-sized reds and of course, salmon. Wider out, kings, snapper, morwong and the dreaded leatherjackets are the main species on offer, if you can pick a good weather day.

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