The weather has been a little up and down. We have had periods of heavy rain and floods and we have had periods of bright blue skies, calm seas and hot days. The one thing that has been consistent has been the fishing… consistently great that is. Estuary fishing, inshore fishing or wide offshore, all options have been firing over summer and it looks set to continue through March.
The lake itself has really fired up after some heavy rains during summer, and this is often the case with the lake after heavy rains. A good flush out really stirs up the waterway and the fish love it, so lure anglers have been scoring very healthy bags of solid bream to 40cm over many of the flats throughout the system. Small shallow running hardbody lures are proving successful. Different colours are working on different days. Most anglers opt for blacks, olives and browns, but I can’t tell you how many times we’ve scored great fish on bright green coloured hardbody lures.
The flats are still producing really good numbers of flathead. Not only is it great fun fishing, but it also makes for a few nice fresh fillets for the dinner table with most fish in that great eating range of 45-55cm.
The pelagic fish at the mouth to Lake Macquarie have been on the boil for months now, and this also looks set to continue. There are huge schools smashing bait around Moon Island and you should find plenty of action off these schools from bonito, kingfish and salmon. At times they can be frustrating to catch., as many anglers see large schools like this and think of throwing metal lures through the schools. It may work at times, but by far a more effective approach is to stay back from the school a little and cast into it with 3-4” soft plastic. A variety of colours will work, but clear colours will generally be the go to colour for this type of action. You will out-fish the anglers chucking heavy metal lures. A few sneaky local fly anglers have also been taking advantage of these schools of fish and having a blast.
Whiting are also about, but it doesn’t appear to be one of the better years from what I’m hearing. They are getting caught, but I’m told the numbers are down on what some years in the lake can throw up. Live worms have been the most effective options for bait anglers and surface lures have also been scoring a few good catches for lure throwers.
Offshore fishing is all the talk, which is great to see. Local game club boats have been having success with fantastic tiger shark captures from quite a few boats. Some solid sharks over 300kg have been hitting the scales so far and although maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, there is no denying they are impressive captures. The shark crews have their favourite haunts like any anglers and on a recent trip of mine offshore we had no troubles finding a few toothy critters swimming around with some nice size sharks showing up in the 75 fathom grounds off Swansea. It’s just a matter of working out your drift, laying a good berley trail, setting your baits and waiting for the bite.
Marlin action remains strong with solid catches reported up and down the east coast at the moment. Anglers are finding good bait balls off the Car Park as they do each year, and slow trolling live slimies around the area is as good as any method to tangle with a beaky or two.
Lure anglers are also getting great results with many crews reporting pack attacks from hungry striped marlin, and at times seeing a full spread of five skirted lures hooking up. As a rule, you will not get every hit on a lure from a striped marlin to stay connected, but with packs like this attacking lures, the odds of one or two sticking are pretty good. Lures in that 6-10” range are doing the damage and a variety of colours are working well as they do each year. We are seeing good results on a few main colours this year, but our Colorato Lures Hitman in our vivo colour has been our number one marlin lure this summer.
Mahimahi are about as well, but it certainly has not been a cracking start to the season for them so far. So many anglers are still hopeful for a good season, albeit a late one. As is often the case, you will get the better fish off random floating items out at sea and off of isolated fish traps or personal FADs you come across as these often see less fishing pressure than the Fisheries FAD. Trolling small 4-5” lures is a great option, and once you find fish, slipping in a live yakka or slimy will generally see some quality fish coming aboard.
Rock fishers are also enjoying a good run of fish. Many anglers are enjoying spinning lures for pelagics with kingfish and bonito on offer. Many of the kingfish are rats and undersize, but any kingfish caught is a great buzz for anglers and they are certainly not all rats, so anglers need to be ready for the hoodlums as they’re in there among the rats. Often anglers will float out a live bait while they are spinning their metal lures or hard stickbaits, and it’s often these wide floating live baits that score the solid kings in the schools.
As I have said before, take care when fishing our rock ledges. We have unfortunately lost another life recently off the rocks near Catherine Hill Bay. Make sure you stay safe, take a friend or friends, look out for each other and ensure you’re around for many more trips down the track. If the swell and seas are too much, it’s simple, you pull the plug on the trip and plan it for another day. No fish is worth your life.Reads: 601