Gearing up for a fun gamefishing season
  |  First Published: December 2016

It’s 2017. There’s loads to look forward to this year. I have a few goals to work towards, both on a business front with my Game Fishing Lure business and also on the water. The aim is to score a few target species for myself, the wife and daughter. Yep, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Last year was fantastic for local anglers. Lake Macquarie turns it on more and more every year it seems. I’ve never seen such a run of quality mulloway in Lake Mac like I did throughout 2016. That’s one thing I hope will continue for many years. This month is looking fishy, that’s for sure. Currently we’re seeing plenty of good fishing.

Estuary anglers are scoring great numbers of mulloway with loads of fish in that 80-100cm range. By far, the best and most productive method appears to be live squid. In saying that, I haven’t missed out with my soft plastic offerings. Anglers often ask me where the go to mulloway spot is, but it’s not that simple.

There are multiple locations that produce mulloway. I could give you one spot that may not produce on a given day, but at the right time of night, that same spot will fire. All I can say is that you need to be out on the water to stand a chance, so be sure to look for deeper locations – ones that hold baitfish. Try to avoid heavy boat traffic periods.

Bream have really fired up. The flats and even the deeper waters off the edges of the flats have been producing the goods. Lure anglers are scoring bream in good numbers and sizes. Hardbody lures worked just above the weedy bottoms are ideal. These are generally 35-55mm in length, 3-4g and dive 2-3ft. Many different colours work. Black is one that many bream anglers can’t go past.

Anglers wanting a few tasty flathead for the table are in luck. Now that the waters are warming up nicely, concentrate on the shallower areas. My best days flathead fishing in Lake Mac have actually come about from attempts at getting a few shallow water bream.

The only thing I found was I was losing too many fish (and lures) as they were swallowing my small bream lures and busting me off. If I’m chasing flathead on the shallows, I switch to longer, slim profile lures and find that I get many more fish to the boat. I don’t harm the ones I want to release, as they haven’t swallowed the lure right down.

Kingfish continue to be caught throughout the lake. The Swansea Bridge is fishing well. Getting the hook-up isn’t the hard part – extracting the fish from the pylons is another story. Live squid is the number bait for these Lake Mac kings, and down rigged they’re also very effective.

The ocean side of the bridge on the run out tide is often productive, but I’m sure other anglers have their preferred tides. Inside the lake itself is producing kings again. It seems to every year nowadays. I suggest trying the many channel markers throughout the lake. Coal Point is well worth a try, as are the channel markers along the drop over.

Offshore fishing is kicking into gear now. Hopes are high for another bumper season. Shark fishos have scored phenomenal captures with makos over 300kg, and massive tiger sharks as well. It’s all happening offshore on the game front. Cracker mahimahi have been caught and this should continue for the coming months. Marlin continue to increase and they’re not thick yet. The next few months should really turn it on.

I’m often asked what lures I suggest for anglers wanting to get into their first marlin and crews looking to get better numbers for their efforts. As a rule with the summer marlin run, black and striped marlin in that 50-100kg range should take lures anywhere from 6”-10”.

I like a mix of colours. Always have a green of sorts, a blue, a pink or purple. Then mix it up with the other lures. I’m not as hung up on colours as some anglers are, and I’m much more concerned about the lure’s action. Get that right and you’re more than on your way to a productive season chasing gamefish on lures.

For anglers heading offshore, who are more interested in a feed of quality fish than tagging a big marlin, you’re in luck as well. Kingfish to a metre are being caught from several good offshore locations. The reefs out from Terrigal, Swansea and right through to deep waters off Port Stephens such as Allmark continue to produce the goods when the currents permit.

Deep water jigging remains a productive and popular method among anglers. Don’t kid yourself, it’s hard work and requires a massive effort. Deep dropping live baits such as a live slimie or yakka is a great option. Anglers will also find a few other tasty species for the esky such as snapper, mulloway and leatherjackets, which are annoying for many anglers but awesome on the plate.

Rock anglers are having a blast with some really nice catches. Throwing lures around like stickbaits and poppers has resulted in solid kings and plenty of bonito.

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