The population of Forster and Tuncurry swells each year through January with an influx of holiday-makers, and it can be difficult to find space on the water to enjoy by yourself. Even offshore you can fish within sight of other boats but with an early start you’ll enjoy some good mixed reef bags.
The bags are made up mostly of flathead and the occasional small snapper for those who want to bounce cut baits on the bottom. Trolling small lures over your intended spot should hit a school or two of bonito or a quick stop at Haydens reef to catch livies.
Forster Sport and Game Fishing have been making the most of the seasonal kingfish with some great deep jigging captures, topped off with some very tasty bar cod. There are a few marlin around, and with warmer water they will be sticking their beaks in the mix more and more. Trolling up the marlin and throwing healthy live bait at them, on heavy threadline gear, is a popular way of knocking over the smaller blacks that appear this time of year and can be a very exciting way to spend the day.
For those restricted to fishing the lake I would suggest you arm yourself with a couple of crab traps and set them early in your day around The Step or in the wider lake area. The blue swimmers have been pretty good of late and a few swimmers in the pots at the end of the day is the best finish to a session I can think of. Sticking the pots along the riverbanks will increase your chance of catching mud crabs. I would suggest setting at dusk and checking them at dawn. This will help prevent share farming. Avoid setting your gear too close to commercial pots or along their string. They do not appreciate it and may take or disable your gear.
Bream up the rivers have been going off on the surface and the cicadas are buzzing, which makes lure selection easy. The best cicada pattern lure by far has to be the Tiemco Soft Shell. The bream love them, and I’ve made them my go-to lure for fishing the shoreline structure. Colour isn’t overly important, but the black and yellow striped (bumble bee) is killer. The bream surface fishing around the racks should be peaking at this time of year. Stick poppers like the Berkley Pop Dog are ideal for the racks because the fish are used to chasing prawns and these particular lures hang tail down giving the fish a good target on the pause of the retrieve. Of course, yabbies and prawn fishing around the structure of leases make good lure substitutes. One way to find a target area for you bait is to drift a berley trail of floating bread over the surface.
The Paddock and Breckenridge Channel sand patches have been producing heaps of legal male flathead as they search out the larger females. Often there will be five or six males to the biggest females, so if you hit a spot that produces fish on consecutive casts you can feel confident there is a big momma in the vicinity. If you are lucky enough to land a big girl, remember to take a few photos and release her, they are too valuable to the system to kill. Another spot that can fire is the small channel behind Mosquito Point that drains around the island. It is shallow in spots but the deeper edge drop-off is worth a few baits or lures cast over it.
Big sand whiting are still hanging around the bridge and are easy targets during the run-out evening tides. Combine a few live prawn baits out the back of the boat while you’re prawning and it just a matter of dealing with being distracted from the prawn net and light. Alternatively, you could collect some bait in Breckenridge Channel, the most popular prawning venue, and then target the whiting. During the evening run-out, soft plastics, like the Gulp 2” Shrimp work a treat, as do grub- tail plastics, for the whiting and flathead under and around the bridge. I’ve had great success at the end of the run-out flicking prawns and plastics around the pylons. Most of the fish have stuffed themselves with prawns but they always seem to think they can fit one or two more in! The best prawning and blue swimmer fishing will be around the 10 January and a few days either side of the new moon.
With the good rain and storms we experienced before Christmas, the local freshwater rivers are not looking too bad for a bass fish. Weed is always a bit of a problem at this time of year but at this stage, it has been manageable.Reads: 417