Hot weather, hotter fishing
  |  First Published: February 2017

The tail end of summer is without question a very hot time of year here. Yes, the weather can be very steamy, but the real heat is out on the water, with angling action of all kinds seriously firing up right now. So regardless of which species or style of fishing you’re into, here’s what we can expect this month.

Regular readers may, at times, get sick of me mentioning the bream fishing around our local lakes. However, after having fished right up and down the East Coast over the years, I can honestly say that we’ve got it as good as anywhere, if not better! Tuggerah Lakes, the lower end of Lake Macquarie and of course Brisbane Waters, offer not only numbers, but also great sized bream, which are more then willing to smash lures at this time of year. While you can certainly catch a few on lures at any time of the year, it really doesn’t get better than February.

One of the main things that gets bream so fired up to hit lures is the abundance of prawns, shrimp and small baitfish. Water temps are also at their peak right now. Combine these main factors with secondary influences like some average rainfall and high or rising barometric pressure, and the bream here can switch into lure crunching overdrive! Having said that, it’s still vital to be on the water and casting before sunrise or, if it’s not too windy, later in the day, so you’re fishing the last few hours before dark. Be observant, bring a simple selection of good lures (particularly surface lures), and work them in an interesting or realistic manner. Little factors like these all contribute to success. Regardless of how many fish are around, it still takes a cunning angler to fool them.

Nocturnal fishing with top quality baits is also highly successful, and this can be done from a boat or the shore. The bridges at The Entrance, Toukley and Woy Woy are particularly good spots, but if you’ve got a boat, also try the shallow rocky points around the lakes and leases in Brisbane Waters. Live prawns are a naturally good bait right now, but don’t forget the old school stuff like mullet gut and, one of my all-time favourites, fresh or salted tailor flesh, scaled but left with the skin on.

Flathead and whiting have been quite active lately, and this isn’t about to change any time soon. While lure casting for bream tends to take up more of my time, I certainly prefer flathead when it comes to bringing home something to eat. Throw in a few whiting and maybe a flounder as well, and you’ll have the best mixed bag of fresh fish you’ll ever taste. Considering we’ve also got local prawns and blue swimmer crabs on tap, we certainly are spoilt when it comes to seafood.

Some locals consider the lakes to be smelly and weedy, therefore making the fish no good to eat. I can assure readers that that isn’t even remotely true. Water quality around the lakes is actually much better than many people think. It’s just the sight of the weed and natural smell it gives off with hot, dry weather that gives the wrong impression.

If you really want to score a feed of fish somewhere else though, you can’t go past beach fishing. This really is the best month of the year to fish for whiting along just about all of our beaches here. Fresh pipis and peeled prawns will get you into the action – but the best baits are live or preserved beachworms and bloodworms. Of these, beachworms are tougher, meaning they stay on the hook longer.

Flathead, bream, tarwhine and dart are all commonly encountered when aiming for whiting, but almost anything may swim into the shallow surf zone this month. Don’t be surprised if a salmon, tailor, ray or even a frigate mackerel picks up the bait. Beachworms fished just after sunset are very likely to attract a mulloway, if one is in the vicinity. Although worms are often considered as only attractive to smaller school mulloway, the bigger fish love them just as much. My personal best on a small worm bait was 17kg, but I’ve caught plenty around the 10-12kg range on worms over the years.

On the rocks a variety of fish have been caught recently, and once again, I’d rate February as the peak month for spinning for speedy pelagics. Bonito are the most likely to zoom in and hit lures, with tailor, salmon, frigate mackerel, kings and mack tuna all being a very possible hook-up. It’s a bit too early to predict exactly how this season will pan out, as each year is a bit different. So far though things look very promising. With the holidays well and truly behind us, boat ramps at Terrigal and Norah Head will be less congested. So getting out there and into the pelagic action is quicker and easier, regardless of whether you aim to fish in close for some light tackle fun or head wider with the big gear in search of marlin. Overall, this is the month not to be missed. So drop everything, take a sickie and get amongst the action!

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