Despite northeasterlies, salmon are in!
  |  First Published: November 2016

Spring weather hasn’t been as warm or dry as the previous few years, when we experienced summer conditions as early as September. However, despite the slow start, our local waters are kicking into gear and fishing has definitely improved over the past few weeks.

Beach fishing has still been all about salmon, and that trend will continue this month. Depending on your outlook, that may be good or bad, but I’m sure most of us would rather hook a few sambos than nothing at all. Several years ago, there was a very bad patch of beach fishing here, which often resulted in nothing or just a few pesky sand crabs destroying baits. When things go tough like that, salmon are surely welcome.

Thankfully, local beaches are far from dead at the moment. Aside from sambos, a number of mulloway, up to the average 10kg mark, have been caught from Forresters, North Entrance and Budgewoi. No doubt some of our other beaches have also produced the odd mulloway as well. A sprinkling of bream, tailor, whiting and flathead have also shown up amongst catches. Although the surf zone isn’t what I’d call on fire, it’s going ok and worth a shot this month.

Rock fishing is traditionally a touch on the patchy side at this time of year. We’re really in between seasons and not all fish are in full swing. Having said that, a few solid drummer, groper and luderick have been taking baits close in under the washes at the usual places from Avoca up to Norah Head and Catherine Hill Bay.

Once again, salmon are still featuring heavily in rock fishing catches, but they’ll slowly fade away as we head towards December. If ocean currents are favourable, which means warmer and running north to south, rather than ‘uphill’, a few bonito and rat kingfish may start to appear closer in over the coming weeks. The odd tailor, trevally and bream are likely to take a bait while rock fishing this month, but overall, it’s best to target drummer, luderick and salmon if you simply want to catch something.

Offshore fishing will also largely depend on how those ocean currents and weather pan out. The obvious difference between rock fishing and offshore though, is that you’re stuck on the rocks and get whatever nature delivers, whereas you can head wider to find decent water in a boat. At this time of year it’s quite common to have fingers of warmer water coming down from the north, while it’s still a bit cold in close. Northeasterly winds don’t help either, as they turn inshore water cold and that’s about our most common wind direction this month.

All’s going well though. A mixed lot of bottom and surface fish should be around over the next few weeks. Snapper, trevally and morwong are all likely from 25-60m, with a few kings, jackets and flathead in the same depth range. Some larger kings should still be around in the 80-120m marks, with their smaller rat sized mates starting to be more common closer around shallow reefs and bommies.

If you’re into fun fishing with light gear, soft plastics, micro jigs and so on, it’s pretty normal to expect rat kings and salmon side by side in close this month. There may not be a lot to take home for the dinner table, but plenty of action and sizzling runs are to be expected, and this sort of stuff takes place only a short boat ride from the ramps at Terrigal or Norah Head.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the big boys have been into some tuna and the odd marlin out wider. As the tuna fade away, marlin will slowly take over. As mentioned though, those persistent and often strong northeasterly winds are a big problem this month. Bigger vessels can deal with it easier, but still there will be days when the wind is too strong to head out or kicks in so early that’s it’s hardly worth heading out wider than a few kilometres. Keep a close eye on coastal weather forecasts.

Back inside calmer waters, our lakes and Brisbane Waters are fishing reasonably well at the moment. It’s all about flathead, bream and whiting during November, and lately I’ve been enjoying some very good flathead fishing, with plenty in the 45-60cm range, which are the best for eating. In my books, flathead are right at the top of the ladder when it comes to seafood and I’m sure many anglers would agree.

Another good thing about November is that we can enjoy some good warm water estuary and lake fishing, without any holiday crowds. It’s a good time to get out on the water as much as possible. As usual, I suggest an early start to beat the northeasterlies, and sunrise is also the prime time for most species.


Salmon can still be expected along the beaches this month. The author has been getting into a few with his Daiwa Sensor Sandstorm surf rod and BG 4000 reel. Such equipment makes beach fishing even more enjoyable.


A few mulloway have been turning up along our beaches lately and November is usually a good month for them. So stock up on some fresh bait and try fishing a rising tide after sunset.


Flathead fishing has been quite reliable and fish like this should be easy enough to find this month.

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