Pelagic paradise
  |  First Published: April 2016

For anglers that enjoy the wide blue yonder, April is a real gem in the calendar. The last of the warm, northern current trickles down the coast close to shore and carries large numbers of bait and predators. Spotted mackerel, cobia, mac tuna, small black marlin as well as a variety of mixed reef fish all contribute to a great day wide of Forster. Slow trolled slimies or lures are the best way to attract the bigger pelagic fish, while live baiting close to the headlands is a relaxed way to mix it up and possibly attract a big snapper to the hook. I don’t think this year will see the same amount of Spanish mackerel off Forster late in the season but the spotties certainly are a real possibility.

Gathering bait in a berley trail at Haydens Reef seems to be the common ground, and don’t be surprised to pick up a few bonito at the same time. The bonito are a good troll or cut bait so a light rod with a small metal slice is worth having on hand when gathering bait. The weather should provide ample opportunity to get offshore, with morning calm perhaps the best opportunity before the wind chases you home. There have been some good catches of kingfish, mahimahi, and plenty of small marlin getting around the shallow inshore areas.

The big bait schools the pelagics are hunting are understandably nervous and will seek shelter around the rock washes, so there is no better time to throw metal slices and poppers from the rocks. The bluefin have been cruising, with a few hook-ups reported. There have been plenty of sharks taxing the catch too so get the fish in as quickly as possible.

From Easter through to May, Seagull Point or Charlottes Head gets a fair bit of foot traffic from the live bait brigade with a few dirty grubs making a bad name for all who use the rocks for fishing. It’s a great spot but there is only so much rubbish that the National Parks will tolerate before they deny access to anglers. Bennetts Head, Flat Rock and Charlottes are the pick of the live bait spots but spinning for mack tuna, bonito and chopper tailor can be done from any of the rocky headlands at either end of the beaches that run down the coast.

The lake and river bream are still going crazy for surface lures, with fish pushing back up the rivers after the trickles of freshwater we had over the summer. The advantage was that the rack fishing was great, with more fish in the lower section of the lake than usual. Up the rivers the buzz of cicadas is still with us and lure selection there is easy – any cicada pattern. There have been some good bream taken around the Palms end of the lake, with fish over 1kg quite common.

As autumn gets into full swing the bream will start gathering in the lower estuary. Some will swim through the break wall with the first of the mullet run, while spawning fish will take their time and leave the calm water of the lake by winter. It presents a raft of opportunities if you are hunting bream over the next few months. The racks around the paddocks and the ones leading down the channels will have transient fish keen to take a bait or a lure. As they travel further toward the coast, a drifted prawn or yabby bait will pick up fish on the break wall, especially of an evening and slack high water to the start of the run-out. Autumn is also a great time to target blackfish on the break walls and mulloway that are gathered to take advantage of the mullet and blackfish fleeing the estuary.

The poor old flathead are still hugging the bottom and watching all the overhead traffic moving out of the lake, but most of them will be returning to the rivers through winter so autumn is a good time to target the fish at the junctions and mouth of the rivers and creeks that enter and make up the estuary system of Wallis Lake. It is surprising the amount of flathead by-catch you get while fishing for bream at this time of year fishing the ends of leases or even between the shallower stick leases. Targeting flathead over the flats near Ohms Bay or the island fringes will almost certainly bring rewards, as will fishing Breckenridge Channel while the prawn run is still underway.

The blue swimmers and mud crabs have been good this year and no one is complaining. Prawning has been hampered with dirty water but I’m hoping for a great finish to the channel prawns that come out of the lake. Setting crab traps around the western end of Mosquito Point has been well worth it though I have had a lot of octopus and porcupine puffers either in the traps or leaving their call sign. The muddies are a different story, and can handle themselves in an eight-legged fight. All the crabs I’ve taken this year have been full and delicious.

With Easter done and dusted it’s time for healthy seafood meals, so get out and get into the crabs and prawns on offer before the winter kicks in.

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