Active prawns and fish
  |  First Published: October 2007

An early Spring has picked up the fishing, especially in the estuaries and freshwater.

During the July floods many lakes and estuaries that were closed or partially closed, reopened to the ocean and these systems were replenished with fresh fish stocks. Lots of the smaller lakes have now closed to the sea again but not before allowing the marine life to move back in.

Not only has the fish life returned, which anglers are already benefiting from, so have the prawns and all indications are for a good season ahead. With the prawns being active, so are the fish and this is good news for anglers.

I’ve always been a strong believer that successful luring with soft plastics is based on the food source available within that area. When prawns are in good numbers, early morning raids on the sand flats will produce remarkably as the predators search for stray prawns that have not yet returned to the sand.

Not only are lures successful, so are fresh baits and for those willing to go out the night before or, better still, just before sunrise will reap the benefits of using fresh live prawns. To keep your prawns alive, to put them in a bucket with wet seaweed and no water, this works just fine.

Cuttagee Lake south, Wallaga Lake north and the Bermagui River are all carrying good fish and prawn stocks. At this time of year the upper reaches where the mud flats are exposed on low tide and along the weed beds should be the target areas as the warmer water carries the nutrients prawns need to feed on.

Bream, whiting, flathead and a host of other estuary species congregate in these areas following the food.

One area that always produces well at this time of year is around the lights of the main bridge over the Bermagui River. Whether you use lures or bait, this is a prime spot at night, where the predators will congregate in the shadows to ambush the prawns that are carried on the falling tide.

With all the rain, Brogo Dam is a picture at close to 100% with fresh, lush vegetation creeping right to the water’s edge and the rock orchids in full bloom. You could not imagine a better environment in which to cast a line and, better still, the fish are on the chew.

Whether you are trolling, casting or bait fishing, the bass are increasingly more active every day as the weather warms. For best results, study the weather charts to time your trip with hotter conditions.

Offshore, nearly all the reef complexes are producing so which one you fish should be dictated by weather patterns. The north-east winds are consistent for this time of year so early starts may be needed to gain those good drifts along the outside edges of the reefs.

When these conditions prevail, the Four Mile and Six Mile reefs may be as far as you need to travel for good catches of snapper, both morwong species and big tiger flathead.

There are also some nice sand flatties showing out from Tilba, Cuttagee and Murrah River which provide an option in the shallower water when the wind comes up.

Out over the shelf, striped and albacore tuna are regular catches although they’re not huge. Some yellowfin show sometimes and don’t be surprised to see an early season marlin. Mako sharks will follow these so use the tuna for bait and berley. These sharks are one of the finest game fish to catch and are great tucker.

Kingies are a bit hit-and-miss up at Montague Island; they seem to visit but don’t hold for long. If you strike them, remember the new size limit of 65cm.

Salmon are prolific along the coast, providing plenty of entertainment. Those same floods that improved the estuaries had the same effect the beaches, forming gutters and exposing new structure, creating more feeding areas for fish.

Bream are regular catches among the scattered rocks adjacent to the beaches along with some nice trevally and tailor. These same species are common from the stones, although it has been an exceptional season for drummer off the rocks and continues to be.

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