Fired up fishing in the heat waves
  |  First Published: March 2017

It’s been a very hot summer here in our region this year. We’ve seen many days in the 40°C zone. We have also seen some very nice warm water. The fishing has been pretty hot as well, which is great to see. We are coming into a great month – March generally has productive fishing for many forms of the sport. The winds have been pretty terrible up until now, so we are hoping that will change for the remaining month or two of the warm period of the year.

Lake Macquarie has been very productive this summer and it should continue to be for the next month or two with the current run of fish. We are seeing good catches of whiting in the lake. Whiting are always a welcome fish in the esky, as they are tasty and a great light tackle sportfish. Most of these fish are coming from Salts Bay and the flats around the sand islands. Bait anglers are scoring a few on live worms while lure anglers are getting into some good numbers on topwater lures such as poppers and walk-the-dog style lures. Shallow diving hardbody lures thrown for bream are accounting for many of these tasty fish.

Speaking of bream fishing, it has been sensational to say the least. Some days are seeing double-digit numbers in one hour sessions. Most fish are quite good and a few thumpers are in the mix. The shallow flats and lake edges are producing the goods. A mix of small soft plastics and variety of hardbody lures are all working well and scoring good results. If the weather is very still, fish slightly deeper. The fish will often be too spooked in the shallows if it’s calm. With the recent wind, that hasn’t been a problem for most.

Kingfish numbers seem down a little this year. It’s possible that people are keeping things under wraps, but I haven’t seen or heard many solid reports on the kingfish front. On the other hand, mulloway are still around in very good numbers. Bait fishers are seeing results on live squid and lure anglers are getting the silver ghosts on soft plastics regularly. Smaller plastics in the 3-5” range are more productive. Deeper waters are the go if you’re after a mulloway or three. They are around all hours of the day. With the summer crowds on the lake, early morning and late afternoons have been far more productive of late, and this will be the same pattern for the next month or two.

Flathead continue to please anglers looking for table fish. Belmont Bay and other northern locations in the lake seem to be producing the better numbers. The flathead are falling to a variety of baits – prawns and pilchard pieces are the pick of them. We’ve also been getting a few on the bream gear as by-catch, which can get a little expensive when you’re running very light leaders on your bream lures.

Offshore fishing has been patchy. We’re still hopeful that this will change and that the next hot bite is just around the corner. The fish are out there and being caught, just not in the numbers we have seen in the past year or two. That can change any day now. Persistence is the key and those crews putting in the hours out on the big blue are getting the results.

Black and striped marlin are being caught in 50-70 fathoms. Skirted trolling lures around 6-10” do the most damage. As is often the case each year, we are seeing very healthy mahimahi coming in as by-catch from the marlin anglers. No one ever complains about a nice mahimahi as by-catch. They are one of the tastiest fish in the ocean and a great sportfish that often put on a good aerial display.

Shark crews continue to see huge fish. More than a few have been brought into the weight station this season that have pulled the scales down well over 200kg, with a few over 400kg. There are long days and bumpy conditions for these dedicated shark crews, but the wait is often worth it. The better fish are out wide and come from out over the continental shelf, around the Norah Canyons region.

Anglers offshore chasing a feed are also being rewarded for their efforts. Some days are seeing legal mahimahi coming from the Fisheries FADs. There are a few methods that work on these fish. If one isn’t working, try the next until you crack the code. I will often come into the FAD with a couple of small 5” lures trolled out the back and will do a wide lap around the FAD. If there are no other boats there, I’ll get close. If there are boats there, respect them and hang a little wider.

If this method fails to produce, I do a few drifts past the FAD with a running ball sinker setup and a half pilchard or less on a 2/0 hook. If this also fails, I’ll do a few more drifts working the same area with a variety of soft plastics from 3-6” in a variety of colours. If that doesn’t work either, they’re not on the chew, so it’s time for your plan B.

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