Estuaries run hot for Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2007

The upcoming holiday season represents to many people the annual coastal pilgrimage, with some family fishing a big drawcard.

The estuaries are always a popular stop for travellers, and rightly so. The likes of big oyster rack-dwelling bream, flathead, whiting and blackfish will all be viable targets.

With the increase in boat traffic, the harder the bream will be harder to tempt but don’t let that deter you. To optimise your chances, look to getting on the water as early as you can. The previous night’s festivities often make this a tough sell!

Some good tidal flow makes life easier, too. The run out is usually more productive. With plenty of bug life like cicadas, moths and beetles, give the surface lures a go.

Flathead also feed more aggressively on the run-out tide, stationing themselves along drop-offs and creek mouths waiting for unsuspecting prey to be washed to them. To correctly present your offering in most situations, casting your plastic or a bait up-current and work it back with the tidal flow.

Whiting to 40cm have been prevalent on the weed flats in the upper and lower sections of the larger estuaries. Bloodworms, squirt worms and beach worms are the baits of choice but nippers and soldier crabs also do the trick at times.

Poppers are becoming increasingly used to fool whiting and the class of fish is generally substantially larger than bait produces.

The longest possible cast across weed flats is the ideal approach to try on whiting. Use any prevailing winds to aid in casting, the fish will be less flighty and you naturally will cover more water.


The ocean fishing is starting to heat up with some super inshore yellowfin tuna action taking place. Fish to 50kg have been captured not too far from shore by some switched-on crews – something that really hasn’t occurred since the mid-1990s around these parts.

A large school of big yellowfin tuna was also witnessed cutting a path of destruction in close to the beach and islands at Durras. I may still get my dream fish off the rocks yet!

Kingfish should also be active this month. There have been some good schools of baitfish on the surface lately and the kings are rarely far too away from the commotion. Unfortunately, last year again was a bit of a fizzer on kings locally both offshore and from the rocks, although ports north and south had great action.

The Bay is long overdue for a solid showing of hoods and the signs are looking good.

I reckon there will be plenty of mahi mahi around late in the month because there are so many trap floats spread across North and South Durras. Look around the 55m mark for them or off the Wave Rider buoy off South Durras. Small lures, flies, plastics, live baits or even pilchards will all do the trick if the fish are about.

Late in the month we should see a wave of striped and black marlin pass the Bay on their way south. Keeping check on internet sites, tackle shops and word of mouth from other game fishers is the surest way to find out if the marlin are about. But if that information proves hard to come by look for a water temperature around 21° as a starting point.

The ubiquitous salmon schools continually show themselves on the surface with wheeling and squawking sea birds giving up their locations. Durras, Malua Bay and Moruya Heads are all salmon hot spots on their day.

Salmon may be ordinary to eat but they can certainly salvage a fishless day with some fun light-tackle spinning action. Metal lures around 35g and a 4kg flick stick are all you need to have a ball.

Drive safely this Christmas break, exercise patience at crowded boat ramps and, above all, relax and have fun – you’re on holidays.

Reads: 1937

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