Mulloway madness to pick up
  |  First Published: November 2015

While it’s not officially summer just yet, it’s close enough for most of our favourite inshore and estuary species, with warmer water not far away for those who like a bit of action with pelagic predators.

Beach fishing is back on the agenda for a lot of anglers who don’t normally fish much through the cooler months. Those salmon that have made our beaches their home since June have thinned out a lot now, although you’ll certainly be in the running to hook a few on pilchard baits or lures this month. Realistically, it’s only from mid to late summer that salmon are absent from our waters, but even then the odd one is still caught in the surf zone.

Historically, November can be reasonably good for mulloway and it’s what I would probably nominate as the start of the beach mulloway season, which gradually improves over the coming months. Having said that, if the water becomes extra warm late in the season it’s not uncommon for mulloway to be a bit hard to come by. However, that’s something that is hard to predict. For now though, I would highly recommend stocking up on bait by spending some time catching calamari squid or beach worms. Both of these can be stored in the freezer and still make excellent mulloway baits.

For those who prefer a more laid back style of fishing, whiting can be caught through the day, along with the odd bream and flathead at this time of year. As is the case with any sort of ocean fishing, water temps can be a bit unpredictable at present, so quite cold water may be encountered one week, with warmer water the next. This can translate to hit and miss fishing, but hopefully things will continue to warm and whiting numbers increase as well.

It’s still not exactly a fantastic time to try some rock fishing, especially if northwesterly winds are blowing. Having said that, some species worth considering are tailor, salmon, drummer, blackfish and groper. In the past I’ve enjoyed some reasonable success at this time of year off the rocks for salmon and blackfish, but have also encountered plenty of dead days.

Back inside calmer waters, bream are very widespread and available to anyone casting baits or lures at the moment and the fishing is only going to get better as the weeks roll on. Although I target bream through every month of the year, it really is from now right through to the end of April that I look forward to the most. Not only do surface lures work well from this point on, they’re often the very best thing to chuck at bream in order to get a bite.

Providing a cold snap or heavy rains haven’t hit us, the best places to try for some topwater bream action are the shallow bays and backwaters, rocky points and edges of weedbeds. Some of the many areas worth considering are Empire Bay, the northern side of Pelican Island at Woy Woy, Fagans Bay near Gosford and the weedy flats just west of the bridge at The Entrance.

Flathead are well and truly around now and I’ve been enjoying a few on the dinner plate lately. Even when stacked up against the likes of snapper, jewfish, pearl perch and whiting, I reckon it’s very hard to beat flathead around the 50-60cm mark for a tasty meal of fresh fish. Of course, larger models are normally released so they have a chance of making more baby flathead for the future. The Entrance is probably the pick for flathead through the warmer months, but the downside is the average size of the fish there, which tends to hover around the legal length of 36cm.

Whiting are also around in good numbers, as they normally are at this stage of the season. A good type of lure to use if you like catching bream, flathead and whiting in the same session are the small 30mm vibes like the Ecogear ZX30 or Daiwa Gekkabijin 3S. This is especially so in water around 1m deep.

The occasional mulloway is always a possibility in Brisbane Waters, but as with most other species, summer and autumn are best, particularly for the smaller schoolies. So the odds of hooking one should improve this month.

If you’re keener on specialising in catching a feed of whiting for the dinner table then some good quality bloodworms, beachworms are the best bet. Alternatively, surface lures marched across the top at a constant pace can also do pretty well. With baits or lures, remember that whiting like warm, shallow places with a sandy bottom. The same areas I mentioned for bream above are also excellent for whiting.

November can be a reasonable month for offshore fishing, although I wouldn’t say great. Once again, this is all largely dependent on east coast currents delivering some warmer water. If that happens then we’ll see some early inshore pelagics like bonito and small kingfish show up. If it remains cold then it’s probably better to target bottom dwellers like snapper, morwong or flathead.

Of course, the wider you go the greater the chance of finding some better water, although that’s not guaranteed. So keep an eye on sea surface temperatures via the Internet and listen to what others are saying about their day on the water. If unsure, it could be a better idea to just stay in close and try to pick up a mixed bag of small reds, trevally, morwong and flathead.

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