Learn the ways around the weed
  |  First Published: February 2016

One of the very best months of fishing in this part of the world is now upon us. Holiday crowds have thinned out and almost all species are out in force, ready and willing to take baits and smash lures. So let’s take a closer look at what’s on offer over the coming weeks.

The lakes and Brisbane Waters have fished very well right through the warmer months and all going well, the action should only get better this month and the following. As mentioned in last month’s issue, bream, whiting and flathead have all been on the chew and that’s nothing unusual, as they are our primary summer estuary targets.

Personally, I reckon it’s been one of the best bream summers for quite a few years, with very healthy numbers around, particularly within the Tuggerah system. Having said that, the average size can leave a bit to be desired at times. With some persistence though, the occasional bigger specimen is hooked.

Despite all the holidaymakers over recent weeks, The Entrance is still one of the most reliable places to pin a few bream, flathead or whiting on baits or lures. The main area of action through the holiday period and on weekends for that matter, is from just west of the bridge, down to the sandy channel mouth. This stretch should produce the goods this month, with whiting the main player between the bridge and the mouth.

However, there are also plenty of fish to be caught further back into the lake, around the islands and on the north and south sides, where boat traffic and angling pressure tends to be much lighter. On the downside though, it’s extremely weedy on the northern and southern sides and I’ll admit to being driven crazy, as strands of weed constantly foul around lure hooks.

There are a few ways to get around the weed problem. The first is simply to seek out clearer sandy patches adjacent to the weed, but not right in it. Secondly, soaking a bait is far less troublesome than lure casting, as lures act like a rake, especially surface lures, skimming across the top. They’ll always catch any bits of floating weed in their path.

If you’re keen on using surface lures at The Entrance or any other seriously weedy areas, try replacing the trebles with upwards facing ‘W’ hooks. The hook up rate is about 80% as good as it is with small trebles, but because you end up catching less weed this can translate to more fish hook ups and that’s always the aim of the game!

Due to the abundant weed, I never use diving hardbodied lures at The Entrance, as there are some excellent alternatives that don’t foul up with weed anywhere near as much. Soft plastics, like small Gulps or little 30mm vibes fitted with single or ‘W’ hooks, rather than trebles. These lures will interest bream, flathead and whiting, as well as others ranging from the dreaded longtoms through to tailor and even the odd mullet.

Aside from the weedy spots, surface lure action should be first rate around the shallow margins of the lakes and Brisbane Waters. Of course, the racks and more in the way of boat hulls, jetties and rocks through Brisbane Waters means there’s a lot of bream-attracting structure to cast lures at.

Rock fishing normally peaks this month for bonito, kingfish and other small speedsters, as well as the occasional larger predator. Unfortunately, a nagging shoulder problem means that for the first time in many years I’ll have to miss out on such action this season. South Avoca and Wybung Head were two of my old favourites for high speed spinning back in the old days. Thankfully, these locations can still turn on the fun. Of course, we are blessed with plenty of other great rock ledges along the Central Coast, so there’s always somewhere to fish.

Likewise, beaches are all systems go at the moment. If you’re a rock and beach junkie it can almost be a nightmare at this time of year, as both are fishing so well, it’s hard to choose the arena! It can boil down to which species grabs your attention and along the surf zone we’ve got whiting, bream, tailor, flathead and mulloway to choose from.

Offshore fishing is also firing right now, with larger pelagics out wide and small pelagics closer in around the shallow reefs, bommies and headlands. Of course, that’s certainly not to say that you won’t run into mobs of bonito, striped or mac tuna out wide or the odd marlin or cobia right in close. It always pays to be prepared with a good range of tackle, rigged up and ready to go, particularly when fishing in February!
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