A billfish for Christmas
  |  First Published: December 2007

For the gamefishing tragics the arrival of striped and black marlin with the warm currents is like finding a new red bike under the Christmas tree.

There have been some incidental catches since the end of October and as the warm currents stream further south, the beakies will become viable and challenging targets.

With the increased warm water come the associated slimy mackerel, bonito, kings and so on. Basically the offshore water comes to life and the quiet bait sessions through the Winter are forgotten. The nor’-easters can get predicable but steady weather patterns can help to plan the days ahead.

Shallow reef fishing for snapper is still on offer and the trag have been a standout for anyone willing to head out under the cover of darkness. The leatherjackets offshore seem to have thinned out, finally, and by now the bonito migration should be in full swing, adding to the offshore prospects.

Big king are a traditional Christmas thing, as is the odd cobia and chopper tailor. I’m going out on a limb here but I wouldn’t surprise to see a few spotted mackerel show up this year, we’ll wait and see.

The lake has its fair share of big flathead and there is a lot more emphasis among the veteran anglers on soft plastic to target them. The monster flathead are spread from the Tuncurry Channel to The Step at the side of Wallis Island.

From deep water to the shallow sand flats, there are some big trophy fish that although provide some bragging rights and photo opportunities, should be released to provide future generations of flathead. Besides, fish form 45cm to 55cm are the best eating and there heaps of them.


While I expect the bream to be biting their heads off this time of year, there is a chance the add boat traffic has settled them down a little. There has been a good early morning and late afternoon surface bite on the rising tide and don’t forget about rigging softies like Squidgy Bugs for a surface retrieve over the racks.

While on the topic of a surface bite, the whiting seem bigger this year but there are fewer of them. A great lure for teasing the bream and whiting over the weeds and sand flats is the Jackson T-Pivot. It’s a little banana-bent surface lure that makes a change to the standard popper types.

There have been masses of blackfish coming into the lake along the breakwall on the Forster side. A peek into the shallower water gives you a good idea of just how many fish call Wallis Lake home over the Summer. The channel weed beds and lease areas are where you will find the Winter-fattened blackies.

Bait fishing around the leases and deeper holes has produced good flathead and bream with whiting an occasional catch, unless you target them with live yabbies or worms.

Blue swimmer crabs are available over the weedy fringes of the islands like Wallis and Regatta but be mindful not to place your witches’ hats in the channels and abide by the area restrictions that prohibit the placing of any form of fish or crab net in the lower lake entrance. The tide flows hard and quick so you’d loose your gear anyway, let alone cause a menace to boating traffic.

Muddies are found up the rivers and around the islands with mud flats and are at their best in February. The prawns are still hot to trot in the Breckenridge Channel and other parts of the lake with average hauls being reported. As mentioned last month, it’s a first-in basis for the best spots.


I recently had the pleasure of filming with John Haenke and Peta Walter from The Fishing DVD. I took Steve Starling up the river fishing for bass and he managed to crack the 50cm mark. The experience was made so much more enjoyable due to the easy-going and good humour of John, Peta and Steve. I believe the segment on the Forster/Tuncurry area is out in March so keep an eye out for it.

The bass fishing is pretty good at the moment but as the water warms up there will be a need to fish deep and soft plastics are the way to go. Even at midday it’s possible to pull big fish from the narrow bands of shade that fringe the river bank.

All in all, December should be good so have a safe and enjoyable holiday.


A word of warning for all boat users on the lake over the Christmas break. Be careful of shallow water and be aware of the markers through the lake.

A mate recently came to grief at the head of Wallis Island and while his health has recovered the event could have easily been a tragedy when he hit a sand bar and launched himself into his electric motor.

Steve Starling with a 43cm bass taken while filming a segment for The Fishing DVD. He was rapt in the fishery.

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