Time to fish for a feed
  |  First Published: August 2007

Winter can be a slow period on the coast with precious little to excite anglers who are not willing to adjust to the cold, short days.

The offshore offerings can be reduced to the bottom-foragers but for many of the visiting anglers and locals, this can be an advantage when you want to put fillets on the dinner table.

Snapper, the odd pearl perch and leatherjackets are available along the coast at this time of year.

At a club weigh-in recently many of the offshore anglers bemoaned catching a handful of pan-sized snapper and tubs of leatherjackets from small to extra large. Now it may be me, but I reckon the humble leatherjacket is a great species to target with a two- or three-hook paternoster rig and squid strip baits.

They are easily found over broken reef and shallow structure close to the coast and with a sturdy hook they are a cinch to catch, easy to clean and, simply cooked, provide a bounty for the family.

For anyone wanting to chase the snapper on soft plastics, this month is as good as any to have a crack over the shallow reefs along the coast so while you or your mate have a line down for jackets, one of you could be testing the snapper-plastic thingy.

For those who want to troll or cast lures offshore, there are plenty of tailor and salmon around the current lines and inshore washes. The fish are chasing gars which turn up in berley trails of bread used to stir up the drummer that will reach their peak come early September.

The north end of One Mile beach and Bennetts Head have been fishing well for pigs and the sea-running bream are also showing interest in the baits of prawns and bread.


I make it no secret that I love my pig fishing and I find the best bait is fresh bread.

The local fruit and veg establishment has a $1 a loaf deal most of the time so I get that for the berley component and buy one or two loaves of WonderWhite for bait. I don’t know if it is the fats or preservatives, but WW certainly moulds on the hook easier and tastes better if you get hungry.

There are far fewer rubbish fish, including the annoying butterfish or mobile eyeballs, when you fish with bread.

The recent estuary flush helped the coastal fishery enormously. A big fresh seems to consolidate the fish in the lower lake and close offshore area, where they gather force and re-enter the lakes and rivers.

The best thing about it is that competition for food drives the fish to take advantage of anything available.

Fresh or live baits are always best and the headlands right along the Mid North Coast will be harbouring some quality bream, pigs, and tailor.

This time of the year some big tailor infiltrate the lake and hunt around the holes and deep water at Hells Gate and along the edge of the weed fringe from The Step to Pipers Bay. This weed area is also a good spot to drop a bait for bream and legal flathead with some leatherjacket action, too.


I’ve not heard how the back of the lake, around Coomba and Green Point, has fared after the rain but I suspect it would be a slow affair with a vast area of water and scattered schools of fish.

One disappointing piece of news was that some big bass were being netted as far down the Manning as Croki. It’s a tough question that has to be asked about nets in the river after a big fresh and the killing and disposal of so many quality bass as a result.

Problem is, we need a big fresh to encourage breeding but then the big breeders are often killed by poor fishing practice. I don’t know what the answer is.

Another concern is that the areas around the lake have become very shallow and the utmost care is required navigating the narrow channels. One bloke I saw during an awfully discoloured low tide did his best impression of the Pasha Bulker and parked a 6m boat hard on the sand coming back into the Tuncurry ramp.

The job to refloat it was not as difficult as for a 40,000-tonne collier but the sudden stop when hitting a bar can leave an impression – and sometimes it’s an impression of the steering wheel on your forehead!

The water visibility can get bad with a lot of rain up in the Wallamba catchment so please take care on the water.

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