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The fish are awake on the lake
  |  First Published: November 2016



It sure is a great time of year to be out and about on the local waterways, and it’s looking like we’ll have a cracking summer once again. I’ll be taking advantage of what the area has to offer this summer. After spending the last couple of years struggling to find a suitable ‘crossover’ style boat that suited my family needs and my fishing needs, I recently bit the bullet and purchased a second boat.

I’m a lucky man with a very understanding wife, but after giving up on finding one boat, I opted for two boats – one for my estuary lure fishing, which is my 4.1m Polycraft, and the other is my 5.6m Haines for my family outings and offshore bluewater adventures. I’ve no excuses, so I’d better put a few runs on the board and fresh fillets on the table for the family, or I’ll be in trouble.

We’re now seeing days into the 30s, water temperatures on the rise and bait activity increasing – with it, the fishing action is heating up. Estuary, inshore or offshore, it’s all happening. This will continue for the next few months. The lake is producing some fantastic fishing again, now the temperatures are on the increase. We have a great fishery here in Lake Macquarie these days, and if managed well by us all, we should continue to see it thrive in years to come.

Flathead are about in both numbers and size – plenty of good bags are coming in, but remember to just keep a few for the plate and let the rest go. Flathead are responding well to soft plastics. Pinks are doing the damage for more than a few. Generally 3-5” soft plastics work, but mix it up with a variety of colours and shapes. Some days they’re loving the paddle-tail style and other days it’s the flickbaits scoring the fish.

Mulloway are also around in really good numbers, possibly due to the health of the lake and the number of squid and other baits on offer for them. Many anglers are scoring fish on lures, but live bait anglers are getting more than enough. Live squid is proving deadly once again on the lake’s mulloway populations. They are widespread throughout the system and I’ve even been getting them on lures while chasing bream down around Chain Valley Bay.

Speaking of bream, they’re about in good numbers, and the shallow edges and various flats throughout the system are all producing at times. Early morning and late afternoons are the best bet for working the shallows. Overcast days will also allow you to have a successful trip in the shallow water. Sunny days are another ideal time for working the shallows or the edges, when the winds are up a little. This gives the fish a false sense of security and they’ll come out and hunt lures all day long in these conditions. Again, mix it up with colours and lure styles until you find what’s working best on the day.

Kingfish have also been causing havoc. Many unsuspecting bait anglers have been torn to shreds in no time with their light tackle offerings only to have a hefty Lake Mac kingie nail their baits. Those anglers specifically targeting them will be best off fishing live baits or throwing poppers and other lures around structure, such as the Swansea Bridge. Other good locations are many of the channel markers and other markers within the lake itself.

Salmon remain on the chew and in big schools at times. As the waters are warming, more and more anglers are finding a few kingfish and bonito mixed in with these salmon schools, which are providing countless hours of entertainment for many. For those budding flyfishers out there, there’s really no better situation to practice or master the art than working the flats in Salts Bay with these schools of pelagics.

Once you cross the Swansea Bar, with care, you’re into a whole new world at this time of year and for the next 4-5 months. We’re very lucky here in many ways and during a good summer run, we should see black marlin, mahimahi and more come in close – enough even for smallish trailer boats to safely have a shot at some of the majestic gamefish our waters have to offer. Between now and the end of summer, it’s not uncommon to have marlin caught a kilometre or two off our coast. From the rock ledges out to the 60 fathom line is a prime area for targeting marlin during these coming warmer months. So long as the currents are kind and the baitfish show, predators will be there ready to go.

For anglers looking to connect to their first or have only caught the odd one here and there, I suggest two options. Select a spread of 6-8” skirted game lures, in a number of different colours, and troll the waters out to 60 fathoms. Keep an eye on your sounder and pay particular attention to any temperature breaks or bait balls you may come across. The second option would be to jig up a few live slimy mackerel and slow troll them around bait balls that should be around the area. For this option I suggest you swim one up high in the water column and the other one weighted with a breakaway snapper lead fished down deep.

For anglers with larger vessels, out beyond over the shelf is another great proposition. It’s a fair run out there, but not a real issue for decent boats with capable crews and favourable weather. The same options are on offer and you’ll also often encounter schools of tuna and some very nice mahimahi, not to mention larger marlin out in these deeper waters.

When all is said and done, there’s only one thing left to do: go get ‘em.

1

Brad Knight with a solid Lake Mac flathead that took a liking to his new AusTackle soft plastic lure.

2

With no shortage of nice flathead on offer at the moment, fish like this are plentiful.

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