Spring started for us in September, but in terms of water temperatures we’re still in the depths of winter offshore. The current is not likely to return to the coast until we’re well into summer, and with an El Nino system kicking in for us it’s likely that the water will stay quite chilly off the coast all summer.
This month we can expect to see the snapper remain where they are, which is pretty much everywhere. The larger fish have tended to be out in the deeper water though, with large numbers but smaller sizes on the inshore reefs. In the deeper water, lures such as slow pitch and Shimano Bottom Ship jigs are working the best, especially as we start to get more wind and faster drifts. There aren’t too many days now that aren’t influenced by the northeast sea breeze, and that trend will likely continue this month with cooler coastal waters. The mornings will definitely be easier fishing but if you can stand the discomfort, fishing in more marginal conditions can often reap rewards, as long as you can present your bait or lure in the right spot.
The smaller rat king packs have taken up residence around many of the local washes and inshore pinnacles. As always, they seem to stop biting once they get above 64.5cm in these schools. Larger kingies are around though, and if you find the bait and snapper you will likely find the kingfish too. Locating bait balls that are hemmed into a ledge or underwater pinnacle is the key. If you chase around the surface-dwelling kingy schools you will have fun, but you’ll often restrict your bite to only rat-size fish. If you can find those bait schools and get your soft plastic, slow jig or stickbait down in the action you’ll have a good chance at a decent king or a decent snapper.
Off the rocks the winter fish have still been going strong. Good mulloway are being caught on most headlands amongst the many smaller school-sized specimens. Big hardbody lures and soft plastics have still been the best performers.
Tailor are not being caught in huge numbers, but those few that are caught tend to be a good size. Fish up toward the 5kg mark have been showing up, with pillies and large lures aimed at mulloway accounting for the majority of them.
The luderick have pretty much wound back down to normal after a particularly excellent effort over winter. You can still get a bag of luderick at their normal haunts around the washes and lower estuary rocky outcrops.
Artificial weed flies have been a revelation to many luderick anglers I’ve met in the shop this year. For those who think chasing weed on the tides before a luderick session is a bit tedious, a weed fly is the perfect answer. They look almost identical to the real deal underwater, and they last a lot longer than a hook full of weed does. I love fishing them on the fly rod but they work just as well when fished on conventional luderick rigs.
Even though the offshore water is cool, the estuaries are certainly heating up. Flathead are in the breeding mood. If you find one flathead you’re certain to find a few more. In the warmer months of the year the smaller males are all trying to breed with the larger female fish. As many as 20 males can be found hanging around a single female fish. If you catch a few flathead between 30cm and 45cm in one location, it’s a sure sign that there’s a big female somewhere in the area.
Now is the time to be collecting all the flathead tips and techniques that you can for the 2nd Urunga Estuary Sport Fishing Flathead Tournament coming up in November. The inaugural event was in 2014 and was a great success. With some new major sponsors in 2015 it’s set to be an even bigger and better tournament this year. For more info check out the tournament page on Facebook.
Now that we’re back into spring I can talk a little more about freshwater. With water so low the bass will still be hanging low in the systems. You have two options when bassing this month. You could head up high and chase the larger fish that decided not to do the run this year. This option tends to be in nicer country, and from my point of view it’s more fun to fish.
The other option is to fish the brackish and lower freshwater stretches for schooled up fish around the bridges and snags. There’s plenty of bait in these sections so anything that mimics a glass herring or mullet would be well worth throwing around, with an outside chance of a mulloway or mangrove jack.
The ‘other’ freshwater fish will be on the radar again as of the long weekend this month. Trout season is set to open and the key will be finding rivers with good flow and cooler pools. The winter has been very dry so the highland streams have been very low. Fishing slow and deep under the banks and in larger holes will be a top tactic for chasing the larger fish in the low-flow streams. With water temperatures not too high yet, the low-altitude creeks with a little more flow may be the best bet before they heat up too much. Forecasts indicate we have a hot, dry summer ahead.
I love this time of year, with everything from wide offshore, coastal and hinterland coming online and hopefully onto my line. No matter where you’re heading for a fish, I hope you get amongst the action.Reads: 342