Fun-filled sessions on tuna
  |  First Published: September 2015

Isn’t it nice to see a few tuna about for the offshore guys and girls! Although the tuna aren’t exactly what you would call ‘thick’, there are certainly plenty around to keep anglers entertained.

And what about the lake? Some fantastic catches have coming from there as well. Yes, yes I know – it’s still a bit chilly and water temps are down. Even so, at the end of the day if the fish are on the chew I don’t know many anglers who would care about the weather.

The Lake has been producing some great bags for anglers. Everything from nice bream, a good feed of flathead or some reasonable mulloway – it’s all on offer at the moment. Both bait and lure anglers have been getting into the action, which is great to see. The fish are less aggressive in this cooler weather, that’s for sure, but anglers with the right approach will certainly be rewarded nine times out of 10.

There are plenty of mulloway in the lake at the moment, with the majority of fish around 70-90cm. Soft plastics and lipless crankbaits are producing in deeper waters around the bait school, but there has also been a good number of smaller specimens landed on hardbody lures by anglers targeting bream in shallow waters, and they are not complaining at all. Anglers putting in the time with live baits have also been also scoring their share of mulloway, and generally have been accounting for the better sized fish. It’s a waiting game at the moment but worth the wait, as I’m sure you’d agree.

Flathead are plentiful at the moment in Lake Macquarie, with lure anglers scoring loads of fish. Most fish have been 40-60cm and perfect for a feed, however there are still plenty of big girls being caught that are over 70cm, and its fantastic to see the majority of these big breeding fish being released these days. The deeper water is prime for these fish during the cooler months of the year, and generally a 4-5” soft plastic on a 3/8-1/2oz jighead fitted with a 2/0-3/0 hook will be sufficient for the job. The trick is to really slow that retrieve down during cooler months because the fish are far less motivated to hunt down a feed. A range of colours have been doing the trick. Bright colours such as lime green, bright yellows/oranges, pinks have all been working, and a white lure will rarely be refused.

Bream are also around in reasonable numbers. Some days the shallows still produce, but more often than not a deeper bite is more likely at this time of year. Working windswept rocky shorelines with soft plastics in 2-3” range or deep diving hardbody lures such as Pro Lures D36 are great ways to chase some winter bream. Slowly hopping blades along the bottom is also very effective, and areas such as Bolton Point, Belmont Bay and Chain Valley Bay on the southern part of the lake are great areas for some deep blade action. I generally prefer more subtle/natural colours and I like them with Red Eyes. If the water is a little murky then certainly switch to a brighter lure for some good results.

Rock and beach anglers have been getting into a little action themselves, which is great to see. It takes a brave angler to stand out there on the cold beaches and rock ledges at this time of year, but they have been getting some great results. Many good bags of bream have been landed of late. Bait anglers have been scoring well, with prawns and fish pieces proving productive. There have also been some great catches of mulloway by dedicated anglers putting in the time flicking large lures. There are generally plenty of casts between fish but this I’m told it’s a very addictive form of fishing, and the results don’t look too shabby either, with plenty of jews in the 5-10kg range being caught lately. Many anglers also now starting to tag these fish for fishery research.

Offshore fishing has been pretty good, with some great catches of snapper in the past month. The fish have been in close and there have been good numbers of reds in the 2-5kg range, which is ideal for the table. Kingfish anglers have also been scoring some great results, but their fish have been coming from wider grounds. There have been good numbers of kingfish about, with most fish coming from southern locations such as the perch grounds, Texas and other reef areas out from Terrigal to the south. Jigging is popular once again, and deep set live baits have been scoring some solid fish as well. Make sure you rig up right if you’re chasing these fish as they are one of the toughest fish out there. They will reef you in no time if you’re under gunned.

Game fishers have found that the shark fishing has gone a little quiet, but most offshore anglers aren’t complaining as the tuna fishing has more than made up for it. The fact that the tuna are out there is the good news, but it’s not all good news. There is loads of water between land and fish, that’s for sure, and these fish have at times been found anywhere from 30-60nm offshore. Trolling lures is by far the best method of ‘locating’ these fish, but by all means once you find the fish, switch to cubing and you will have a fun-filled session.

There is a mix of tuna on offer at the moment. One day you might be landing a heap of albacore that can be as small as a few kilos through to a reasonable 10-15kg, but the next day you might find yellowfin tuna and the next bluefin. It’s a real lucky dip. The great news is they all fight hard and they all taste great.

For anglers who aren’t sure what lures to troll but who are keen to have a go, I’d suggest a spread of lure in the 5-8” range. Keep the larger lures in closest to the boat and run the smaller ones further back in the spread. A variety of colours seem to be working, so ensure you have a good range as some days green colours might work well but the next it could be pinks and purples. The tuna bite generally doesn’t last too long off our part of the world, but the good news is that soon we’ll be counting down until the start of the summer gamefish season, which brings other great target species like marlin and mahi mahi.

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