This month Lake Illawarra should claw back some of its former glory now that the entrance has been open for a few months and fish traffic has started to get into some sort of pattern.
The flathead traditionally start up this month in the channel and down around the entrance, with the week after the full moon a good time to start looking on the falling tide. Just about everyone has soft plastics worked out these days and, really, flatties aren’t that fussed about what they grab as long as it looks somewhat like a baitfish or prawn.
Whiting will start to get a move on down around the entrance if you take the time to get some squirt worms and if the ones that have been caught lately are anything to go by, they will be solid fish.
As mentioned last month, the odd jewie has been taken around the bridge pylons so it should only get better this month. Late afternoons are the best time too start looking with big plastics, while smaller lures have been accounting for some nice bream around the bridge, rocky foreshores and a few up in the creeks.
Some ripper mullet are up in the creeks, particularly – funnily enough – Mullet Creek around William Beach Park and the golf course. The blackfish have moved out of the creeks and are back down around the weed beds of the main channel. If you can get some good green weed you’re in with a chance.
One other great thing about the opening of the lake is that the beach fishing along Windang and Warilla beaches has improved with good catches of salmon, tailor, bream and some nice jewies back in numbers.
The beaches down this way have been a bit quiet but now, with the tidal influence from the lake and all the fish movements, the sand is really starting to fire. The real test will be the Summer whiting run, which has been lacking a bit over the past few seasons but should go well this year as they move from the lake to the beaches during the warmer weather.
Prawns may be the only creatures that will not immediately pick up because the closure of the lake for so long and several years of harvesting, not to mention old age in prawn years, has left the lake almost barren of these tasty little crustaceans. This is strange because not all prawn species need to run to sea to reproduce. I suppose all will be revealed on the dark during this month.
The Minnamurra River generally lags the lake by a few weeks but it will fish well this month for flatties, bream, blackfish and a few whiting. We could see a decent trevally or two around the bridges and even some salmon in the main channel and the entrance on the larger tides.
We should see a good run of salmon in the mornings on most beaches with tailor taking over just after dark. Coniston Beach is fishing well while Windang and Warilla have already been mentioned. Also try Bombo in the south.
While the diehard jewie anglers have been sticking to their routines during the hard, cold months and getting some very nice fish, now it is a bit warmer and a few more smaller fish are about it’s time for the part-time jewie anglers to have a crack.
Most of the northern beaches are starting to produce schoolies along with East Corrimal and Fairy Meadow closer to the city. Down south, Windang, Warilla and Shellharbour and right down at Seven Mile beach have had a few fish.
Rock fishing is improving with the generally calm weather of October giving anglers a little added safety to go about this dangerous pursuit.
Groper can be targeted this month. The water is still relatively cool inshore, meaning these fish will still be active. Head to a deep-water location – Kiama and Bombo are good places to start – crunch up a few sea urchins and throw them in and fish lightly-weighted red crabs in the urchin berley and hang on.
You can often sight-fish groper in the clear water so you don’t waste precious crabs on rockies, parrot fish and leatherjackets.
Add bread to the mix and you will get trevally, bream and even the odd snapper.
If you like things a little faster, there have been salmon, tailor and smaller kingfish taking lures and pilchards with even the odd bonito and striped tuna around the Port breakwalls and Kiama. If you have some heavy gear, try for larger kings on the deep ledges hitting live slimies and squid.
Around the shallower washes and bommies there are plenty of nice drummer and bream so just about all the rock options are covered.
Things are starting to happen offshore. Out over the continental shelf there are albacore, striped tuna, yellowfin and even a few southern bluefin but, as always, there are good days and bad days and it often seems only a few kilometres between hitting the jackpot and missing out altogether.
Trolling small skirted lures is accounting for the albacore and striped tuna. Remember to keep a larger lure in the spread because there are usually a few striped marlin around in October.
Cubing is the way to go for the yellowfin and if you throw in berley, there are some cranky makos about to play with.
Bottom-bouncing the canyons off Kiama still has a few keen participants who haven’t worn out their winding arms yet. They are getting gemfish, hapuka, trevalla and other assorted deep bottom-dwellers. The makos like to follow these to the top as well, which can be a bit frustrating when you just spent 15 minutes winding in that fish.
Some snapper have been about but they tend to be in 50m or more over the gravel patches, although a few nice fish have been taken in closer over the reefs in good berley trails during the evenings.
Baby makos are a constant nuisance at this time of year and generally shut down a snapper bite when they appear, particularly if you hook one and it dives and does acrobatics all about the boat.
In closer there seem to be trevally over all the shallow reefs, just add plenty of berley and they will come. Quite often so will a few kings but remember, the size limit is now 65cm, making it harder to get a legal fish.
Out on the deeper reefs, jigging and live baits will still produce legal kings. You will just have to now throw back a few more than you used to. You can still have fun catching salmon as they seem to be all along the coast chasing schools of bait along the surface.
Mixing with the sambos are some bonito, kings, tailor, trevally, striped tuna and biting barracouta. Look for the birds over the water and use small lures or live baits to entice any larger kings lurking beneath the surface schools.
If you want to slow right down, the calm weather will let you chase a few groper in usually inaccessible places. Just remember, a single groper is more than enough for a feed.
The bottom-bouncers can start to get excited this month as their beloved sand flathead get back into the swing of things over the sandy patches. Stanwell Park and Coalcliff have been producing some good flatties along with small reds on the edges of the reef.
A few pigfish and mowies are showing up along with the odd samson fish and heaps of sweep.Reads: 1142