Another year has come and gone too quick. I hope it’s been a good year for everyone, for the health of you and your loved ones, but also on the fishing front. I feel blessed, that’s for sure. Living here and enjoying the lifestyle that Lake Macquarie has to offer is fantastic. Every morning when I drive over the Swansea Bridge and look at the turquoise coloured waters, it reminds me why I moved my family to this wonderful part of the world. Not only is it a spectacular place to live for the scenery, but the fishing is great and the wildlife is incredible. We’ve spent the past couple of months enjoying some truly amazing sights of whales that migrate through our waters – sights you never get tired of seeing.
I feel like every month I comment on how good the fishing is, but it’s been that way. Who am I to complain? Let’s roll with it while it’s good. Water temperatures are continuing to head in the right direction – not what you would call hot, but certainly warming up. There have been some very nice, rich, warm currents running offshore at times – hopefully a good sign of what is ahead of us for the summer months. The lake water temperatures are also rising nicely and as a result we’re seeing an increase in bait activity and also predatory fish.
The shallow waters of the lake’s edges and flats in many of the bays have warm water over them now. Bream activity has increased tenfold. I can’t emphasise how important it is to be very quiet when fishing these shallows. It’s amazing how many anglers I see (and hear) fishing these shallow waters, smashing and banging landing nets, yelling and carrying on. Fish are very spooky in this shallow stuff. On more than one occasion, I’ve literally seen a bream about to engulf a lure only for a noise from elsewhere to put a halt to things – the bream quickly darts off losing interest. This is the number one reason I use a polycraft boat for this style of fishing. They offer a lot less hull slap and allow me to fish tight to where the fish are, without scaring them off with boat noise.
Start fishing 2-4ft of water with a mix of surface lures and shallow diving hardbody lures. There are loads on offer these days, but use a reasonable brand with quality trebles that swims straight, right out of the pack. Go with a variety of colours until you find what’s doing the trick on the day then stick to it. Along with bream, you should find no shortage of nice flathead also willing to hit your lures. While it’s important to run light gear for the bream, just go easy when Mr Flathead takes a liking to your lure, or it could get costly.
Mulloway are also around in excellent numbers at the moment. Bait anglers who put the effort in to catch fresh live bait are scoring good numbers. Those anglers working hard on lures are also getting their fair share. The fish are in good condition and most are in that 80-100cm size bracket. With fish this big, remember you don’t need to fill the esky for a feed. One fish has plenty on it. If managed correctly, we could see this thriving fishery continue for many years to come.
Mulloway are still holding up in the deeper waters, but there have been a few landed in the shallow sections by anglers chasing bream and flathead. Only a couple of weeks back, I pulled a couple of small mulloway down in Chain Valley Bay while working the edges for bream, so be prepared.
For anglers who love to chase their summer run of whiting, we might just be in for a good season. We’re already seeing nice fish coming from the sand islands with lure and bait anglers getting a few early season fish. It’s hard to beat a good feed of fresh whiting fillets.
Offshore fishing is shaping up for another good season with anglers’ hopes riding high after last season’s cracker. Shark anglers look to be in for a good few months ahead with more reports of huge fish being caught and lost. One local GFC vessel recently mentioned they lost a big tiger shark boat side that they conservatively called for 500kg.
Marlin anglers are keeping a close eye on the SST at the moment and other weather reports. As soon as the currents bring down that warm bank of water, they should also bring good baitfish numbers and that will hopefully mean another great marlin season. Many anglers will chose to slow troll live baits around bait balls off the waters of Port Stephens, but as with every year, there’ll be many good fish taken on trolled skirted game lures. If the currents and bait come close enough inshore, then smaller trailer boats will also get into the thick of it, as most years we see more than a few marlin landed within only a few kilometres of shore.
The FADS are now deployed and starting to work, so mahimahi numbers should start to rise. There have already been a few early season fish landed, which is great to see. If you’re just after numbers and looking for a mahimahi then I suggest fishing the FADS with cut baits like pilchards. Remember, don’t tie off to the FADS and be courteous of other anglers out there as well. If you’re happy to settle for less fish, but a better quality, then you can’t go past live baiting these FADS and other offshore FADS you come across. There are really good fish out there. Be prepared and make sure your tackle is up to scratch.
That’s it for another year. Thanks for the support over the past 12 months. I appreciate the pictures that anglers have shared with me and the reports that come my way from our readers. I look forward to the year ahead with you all again, so stay safe.
Rod Austin with a fantastic 107cm mulloway that couldn’t refuse Rod’s lure offering. Rod puts in the time to master the lake and as a result, often scores great fish like this one.Reads: 732