October fish festivities
  |  First Published: October 2016

Leading into the summer months the nature of the estuary changes, and so does the angler and fish activity. The bream and blackfish are back in town and making their way throughout the lake and rivers along with shoals of baitfish. As the water warms the bream will push further up into the upper ends of the rivers, looking for the developing butter prawns, and the surface activity will start to increase from this month onward.

Perhaps the best thing about October though is the start of daylight saving, longer daylight hours and the chance to get on the water after work. It’s also a bit more pleasant as the weather warms and the sting of cold morning air is replaced by more comfortable temperatures.

Offshore fishing has been fair, with some anglers scoring plenty of reds in spots like Black Head, and mixed reef fish over the numerous close shore reef and hard bottom grounds. I heard that rat kings were making themselves at home down at Latitude Rock. None of the fish were big but there were a few just legals in the mix, which would make perseverance worthwhile.

Of course, the leatherjackets have been about as well – although nowhere near as prevalent as last season, where they seemed to attack every bit of terminal gear.

In the lake, the crowd of small tinnies that gather around the Pitt Street end of Little Tern Island are fishing for seasonal trumpeter whiting. Also known as winter whiting, these fish aggregate in the channels and are easily caught using a paternoster rig, size 6 hooks and worm baits. Yabbies and peeled green prawns work as well, and provided your bait is allowed to drift on the run-out tide you’re in with a good chance. The channel that runs in front of Cockatoo Island (Wallamba) is a very popular spot for the whiting, and at times it’s difficult to manoeuvre through the drifting boats. There is no minimum size of the trumpeters, though there is a maximum bag limit of 20 fish, including a combination of trumpeter and sand whiting (27cm).

Once you’re through the maze of boats in the channel you can fish any of the leases in the lower lake for bream. Most of the bream are back in the estuary by the end of this month, and they will be holding on structure like the bridge pylons and nearby leases. While many anglers advocate lures, it isn’t unreasonable to throw live yabbies or prawn baits in the same areas as you would lures. Casting and drifting baits under the leases will produce some big fish as well as a lot of little ones.

Flathead are also mixing up the catch bags, with plenty of legal-sized fish making appearances throughout the lake. Find a bay or flat at high tide, just before the turn, and you’ll find the fish. Ohms Bay, The Step or the vast flats down Palms way should fish well as the water warms. The sandy fringes around the sailing club will also produce whiting from the end of the month, and if you like surface action it’s one of the spots to go.

The middle of October is when I generally start setting out my crab pots, baited with fish frames I’ve collected in the bait freezer over winter. The ratio of effort to reward is better from the end of the month, but locating the best numbers takes a week or so. Blue swimmers and muddies will be more active as the water warms up, and I for one will be glad to get them back on the regular menu.

There have been reports of good mulloway from the wall, both in the channel and from Tuncurry beach side. Fish around the 9kg mark aren’t common but they’re regular enough to make it worth having a go. Live mullet or yellowtail are best, but large soft plastics are a convenient way to pass the time perched on a rock.

The blackfish and bream are still keeping the punters happy; the only real issue is sourcing green weed. For the bream off the wall, try to deliver the bait on as light a sinker as you can along the base of the wall, or close to it. During the run-out tide there has been some good tailor activity on bait balls from the ends of the walls, so have a light outfit and Raider rigged and ready for any blow-ups.

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