Holiday crowds taper off
  |  First Published: February 2016

Now we can relax a little and get back into the swing of things. The school holidays are done and we can now get back to some normality. The other good news is that summer is pumping along nicely and the fishing is red hot.

It is a great time of year to be out fishing in our region with so much on offer and plenty of options for all anglers, regardless of whether they prefer to fish inside Lake Macquarie to chase quality estuary fish, or would rather head wide offshore to chase the summer pelagic fish that are now out and about in good numbers.

It can be frustrating to fish the lake during the Christmas holiday periods and you can be forgiven for struggling to get into a few fish, as it does take a bit more planning to avoid crowds. Febuary is a great month, in comparison, as the traffic has settled down considerably and fish actively feed in their usual haunts.

The lake has loads of options this month with great numbers of mulloway pulled from the lake regularly. Local anglers fishing fresh squid continue to score great results. Most mulloway are in the 70-100cm mark, with the odd one going towards 110cm, which is fantastic to see.

The lure brigade is not to be outdone with many anglers scoring good results also. As has been the case for some time, the lure anglers do well during the daylight hours and bait anglers generally get into some good fishing well after dark. The deeper waters produce better results, so work areas that are holding good bait and the mulloway will be there as well.

As we know, when summer hits, the mighty yellowtail kingfish also hit, and they hit hard! They are an awesome sport fish and reside in Lake Macquarie in both size and numbers throughout summer.

A variety of techniques have worked. Slow trolling live squid set down on a down rigger has been one of the more productive methods again this year. Anglers who throw large surface poppers and stickbait lures also do very well. A mate of mine nailed a few working his fly gear, which has been a blast for him.

The kingfish are found in many areas during summer. Swansea Bridge holds good numbers but getting them out from the structure is not an easy task. Other areas such as Green Point, Wangi Point and many of the boat moorings in the lake all offer good chance of kingfish during summer months.

For anglers who prefer the bread and butter species, the good news is that flathead and bream are about and shallow bays produce good catches over the flats at the moment. Shallow diving hardbodied lures are doing the damage with plenty of nice bream and flathead caught.

Good numbers of bream well into the 30cm mark are around and some really good numbers of flathead in the 40-60cm range are about as well.

Fishing these shallows is a blast, however, the fish can be very shy. You will find that the best time to hit these areas is during windy periods where the surface is messed up, hence the fish are far less spooky during the very early or late periods of the day.

I don’t believe that your lure colours must be this or that. Keep an open mind, have a few options available and trial and error until you find what’s working on the day. Some days, browns, olives and black colours produce, but other days bright greens will be deadly, so be prepared.

Offshore fishing is one of the highlights at this time of year. Those majestic marlin are on the minds of most, if not all offshore anglers this month. Each year sees the East Australian Current run down our coast and bring with it large amounts of bait and predators such as marlin. If the currents play the game they can bring these bait balls and marlin right in close to our coast and at times, we have caught marlin only a couple of kilometres off Moon Island. Generally, the majority of the inshore fish will be small black marlin and as a rule, the wider you go the more likely you are to come across some solid stripes. Out around the shelf and the canyons is prime for anglers who want to target the mighty blue marlin.

Trolling lures is a fantastic way to get into the action. Don’t use more lures than you can handle. It’s not about getting as many lures out as possible. Plenty of crews simply run a spread of 3-4 lures and do very well and equally so, some experienced crews can have 7 lures working out the back scoring good results for them.

At this time of year I’d lean towards a spread of 4-5 lures in a 6-10” size bracket. You want the larger lures closer into the boat and generally the smaller lures further back. As for colours, that’s a whole article in itself for another day. What I will say is to mix it up a little. Certain colours have a reputation for being great marlin lures but that doesn’t mean they work in all locations.

As majestic as the marlin are, they are certainly not the only quality fish offshore at the moment and they are not everyone’s cup of tea. For anglers looking for a little light tackle sport fish action and some quality table fish then I suggest you get out there and head to one of the fisheries FADs. There is no shortage of mahimahi out there.

A few tactics work well with bait anglers getting good numbers on pieces of pilchards and other cut fish baits but many fish falling for these baits are under size. For the better quality fish you will find live baits working well and also jigging.

One tip for anglers looking for a few mahimahi for the table is to treat them right from the start. They have a very tasty flesh, however they need to be treated with respect. Once caught, they need to go straight on an ice slurry and cooked and eaten without being frozen This will ensure a plate of beautiful mahimahi fillets that the whole family will love.

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