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Flathead have thrown down the gauntlet
  |  First Published: August 2016



Another winter is coming to an end – and what a winter it has been. The fishing hasn’t let us down and some fantastic fish have been on offer here on Lake Macquarie. It’s been another great season for chasing flathead and mulloway in the deeper parts of the lake, and many other species also played the game, which made the winter bearable.

Water temperatures are still very cold and will stay that way for a little while yet. This month would certainly be one of the more challenging months of the year that’s for sure, but there are still fish to be caught if you use the right methods and hit the right locations.

Offshore has produced some great fish with solid kings over 1m and no shortage of smaller ones up to 1m. Working the vast array of reefs offshore from Swansea and out off Norah Head lighthouse is the key. Live baits are working particularly well however, hard-working fishers keen to work jigs are also scoring good results for their effort. There are some nice mowies and good reds for anglers chasing a feed. Soft plastics on jigheads with enough weight to get down work reasonably well and bait anglers are loading the eskies with some nice table fish.

The game fishing situation is not exactly setting the world on fire, but crews are being rewarded with some solid sharks. Local crews in the know are coming up trumps regularly with some nice tiger sharks among others. It doesn’t look like we are going to see a great tuna season but a few fish here and there have kept things interesting and some nice fin in the 20-40kg bracket has been stumbled upon. All is not lost and we are always hopeful for a late season burst before the game fishing boats start to turn their attention to the upcoming marlin season, which is now just around the corner.

The lake fishing has been good and hopes are high that these results will continue. As a rule August will shut down a little but there should be enough to keep anglers on the water. As I mentioned, the deep water flathead has been fantastic with some cracking days out there getting into good numbers of solid fish. There have been ample fish in the 40-60cm mark and some very nice big girls to 80cm – a solid fish by anyone’s standards and really nice to see. It is such a great feeling to catch big flathead around that 80cm mark as they fight so much harder at that size and it is an amazing feeling to watch them swim away after a few happy snaps.

The standout lure this season has been the 6” Anchovy soft plastic from Damiki Lures. The white colour has been my go-to colour and has rarely let me down this year. Many anglers think it’s too large a lure, but you will soon see it is perfect when you’re catching 45cm flathead, I have even managed a few nice bream on this lure, which did surprise me.

Salmon continue to be around in big numbers and there are some real horse-sized fish in the mix. Salts Bay/Swansea Channel is the pick of the spots. Small soft plastics in the 2-3” size are perfect and make the most of these great sport fish. Get into them on light gear for the best fight and results. Small spin outfits are ideal and it’s also great to see a growing number of anglers now having a go with fly outfits.

The humble bream have been on the chew lately. Anglers have found good numbers of fish over the many cockle beds that are spread out in the bays around Lake Macquarie. The one thing that is for sure is that the bream absolutely love the choppy, windy conditions. Regardless of whether you throw hardbodies, plastics or blades, the bream really do turn it one when the wind blows. It can be uncomfortable to fish in these windy conditions but I assure you as long as it’s safe for you to be out there then the rewards will make you soon forget about the unpleasant weather conditions.

Mulloway have been on the chew again this past month and it almost seems as though they are now a good prospect for anglers fishing Lake Macquarie all year round. That certainly was not the case in years gone by, but it’s great to see them about all year. They are without a doubt my favourite estuary fish to target and catch. They require a little effort and planning but the satisfaction of landing a nice mulloway, and particularly on lure is sensational. I prefer natural coloured lures and 4-6” is a good size to offer. Paddle-tails work well but minnow style plastics also have their place on days. Many of the lake mulloway are around 80-90cm and are just a blast to catch on spin combos. I opt for a 2-5kg outfit, a 2500 size reel and generally I run 8lb braid mainline and a 12-15lb leader.

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