Mahimahi mayhem off Swansea
  |  First Published: January 2016

Firstly I’d like to wish you a happy New Year for 2016. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas break, enjoyed a drink or two and had some quality time out on the water. There are still plenty of crowds here on Lake Macquarie and boat traffic is not favourable for the fishers that’s for sure. But, as always there are ways around it and planning your trips around the crowds will ensure you’re still in with a great chance of a fish or two.

The weather has really started to heat up now that summer is in full swing and the fishing is just as hot. The water temperatures in the lake are rising and the fish are well and truly moving about the shallows. Both bream and flathead are about in really good numbers over the flats throughout the lake. Not only are the numbers good but there is also some quality fish in the bags as well. A great method for fishing the flats is to work shallow diving hardbody lures above the weed beds and through the sand patches in between these weed flats. I suggest 2-3lb straight through fluoro for chasing bream like this but if you’re after flathead, and there are a few about, then a heavier leader is a must or your trip will quickly become expensive due to lost lures.

For anglers chasing a feed there is some very nice whiting throughout the lake at the moment as well. These fish provide a load of fun on light tackle. You can catch whiting by throwing small surface lures around the shallows of the sand islands. Small poppers or small walk-the-dog style lures like the Gladiator Kazami 60 are good options for this type of fishing. Many anglers prefer live worms when chasing a feed of whiting and they are proving very effective at the moment and a great way to secure a few fresh whiting fillets for the dinner table.

Mulloway are still around in good numbers, and both bait and lure anglers are getting their fair share of the mulloway action in Lake Macquarie. Bait anglers fishing live squid after dark are scoring great numbers, and the lure anglers are doing well during daylight hours. Due to the Christmas holiday crowds, it’s important to try and get out there nice and early or leave it until late in the afternoon when the crowds start to thin out a little.

Kingfish are also about in the lake again and this annual run of kings is a welcome addition to the lake fish population each year. Slow trolling live squid around the drop over area and nearby marker buoys is a very effective method to get into a few of these local kings. Throwing lures such as poppers and hardbody stickbait lures around structure such as the Swansea Bridge is a great option, but ensure your gear is up to the task, otherwise your kingfish will not be hooked up for long!

Offshore fishing is excellent at the moment and more than likely will remain so for a few months yet. Warm water pelagics are about with marlin, kingfish and mahimahi on offer. The mahimahi at the fisheries’ FADs don’t like crowds and commotion so try and be one of the first few boats on the scene. The better fish can be some distance from the FAD itself so don’t be afraid to keep your drift going a little longer passing the FAD by a couple of hundred meters at times. If you’re trolling lures be respectful of other anglers and give the FAD a bit of a wide berth. There should still be plenty of fish out wide of the FAD and more than enough to keep everyone entertained. A small, skirted trolling lure like the Colorato Lures ‘point 38’ is a great lure for this type of fishing. For bait anglers, pilchard cubes are very effective on smaller fish but nothing beats live bait if you’re after quality.

Kingfish are about in good numbers on the inshore reefs, and again live baits are the number one bait. Micro jigging with 20-40g jigs has also become popular and is a very effective way of scoring a few kings from the inshore reefs and other structure. Areas such as grounds out from Norah Head to the south are ideal locations for soaking live bait during these warmer months. For anglers wanting to get into some bigger models, the offshore reefs have a few less fish at the moment when compared to the run of inshore summer fish but there are some real brutes out wide and a deep set live bait is a good option to try your hand at getting one of these hoodlums. Live squid, yakka or slimies are all great options and it really is worth putting in that extra effort to secure some quality baits at the start of the day.

Marlin anglers also have a bit to smile about at the moment with some good fish starting to show. There are a few marlin about, certainly not on fire yet, but some solid blues have been encountered off the coast out around the shelf and Norah Head canyons. Bait schools continue to build up on the inshore grounds from up North off Port Stephens through the grounds off Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and down to the waters off Terrigal. If you’re searching, use a spread of skirted marlin lures in the 8-12” range. Some crews will opt to stick with pulling lures for the trip while others prefer to pull lures until the fish and bait balls are located and then switch over to slow trolling live baits. Both have their place and can be equally effective. The best advice I can offer is to try and be prepared for both options and go with what’s required on the day. Remember safety comes first when you’re heading offshore chasing these game fish. Make sure you log on with the local authorities and it’s also a great idea to join up with the local Lake Mac Game Fishing Club or Central Coast Game Fishing Club. You can usually stay in touch with a few of the club boats when out there and they really do keep an eye out for each other, which is a fantastic show of camaraderie.

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