Catch me if you can
  |  First Published: December 2015

While the countdown to Christmas is well and truly underway, it’s that time of year again when the lake becomes abuzz with boats and other craft. During the day, given sunny conditions, the lower lake and entrance will be choked with holidaymakers enjoying the waterways. Jet skis buzz past showing off their speed and annoying skills of avoiding collisions while party boats and drifting anglers make navigation through the channels difficult. Avoiding the mayhem of the holiday period is easily done with commitment to early starts in the morning or disappearing to the lower lake where you’ll share the space with a few crab pot floats.You can’t blame visitors for wanting to come to the Great Lakes area!

Areas beyond those close to the boat ramps and sand islands will produce plenty of good fishing. The weed flats down near Booti and Snake Islands are good early morning spots for those who want to do a bit of surface luring for big bream and whiting. 3B 68mm Scum Dogs and Pop Dogs are a good lure as are fizzer lures like the Lucky Craft Pevy Prop, especially on the stud whiting that haunt the flats at this time of year. One of the best spots, closer to town, is the Forster side of the big sand flat bordering Tuncurry channel Co-Op. Concentrate on the deeper, darker patches of water and after a few casts you’ll know if there are fish there or not.

If you’re looking for a feed of flathead, away from the crowds, travel south toward Pacific Palms and lure or live bait the sand and weedy shallows that skirt the bottom of the lake. The general run of fish aren’t big, around 35-50cm, but you should find enough to make it worthwhile and you shouldn’t get too bothered down that neck of the lake. One thing I would do is set a crab pot or two if you are heading out into the open areas of the lake. The blue swimmers have started getting about and it’s always worth the prospect if you’re off fishing for a few hours. A reminder though, out of courtesy, don’t set near the commercial crabber’s gear, and have your traps marked appropriately. I found the blue swimmers were a little light and soft early last month but sampling done since were simply delicious.

The flathead are warming up nicely with plenty to catch across this holiday period. The island fringes where patchy weed and mud/sand combine is a good spot to start, especially if you’re throwing lures. Channel drop offs and backwater eddies are also worth a short. Ohmas Bay, and the big flats opposite, are one of my favourite spots at high tide and at times the yabby flats are just covered in fish.

For a bit of fun for the kids, garfish and mullet are cruising the surface and a few slices of bread on the drift will soon have them erupting. A No.10 hook baited with the smallest of dough balls and a small float will have the kids amused for hours. On the edge of a channel with a slow current or an eddy with a weedy bottom are the best locations. The gar and mullet make great whole and strip bait if you’re planning a trip outside or rock/beach fishing so it may pay to cash in on brownie points – taking the kids fishing – while you get them to do your dirty work of bait collecting.

Talking of outside, December is when we start to see some of the big kingfish visit the area and a trickle of small species tuna like bonito, macs etc. Most reports I’ve had from anglers heading offshore are consistent with bags of sand flathead and a few mixed reef fish and snapper in the deeper water on fish baits. I did hear there were a few good snapper coming from ‘south of Forster’ so your guess is as good as mine.

The evening beach fish is far more comfortable now than it has been with temperatures staying in the 20’s. The sand whiting and dart should be patrolling the beach gutters by now and many aggregating fish left in the lake will soon be joining them. Yabbies or beach worms on a light 10lb outfit, a bit of red tube and a smallish ball sinker and you can have the time of your life.

If the tide is running up, even during the day there is a fair chance the fish will be on. Beach worms are the obvious bait and can be bought at many of the boat sheds in Forster. The run out tide is the best for catching your own, but that is a whole other experience.

Good luck and happy holidaying for our visiting readers.

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