Cracking bags of bream
  |  First Published: April 2017

With summer behind us we can all look forward to more pleasant weather. It has been a very long, hot summer for most of Australia, and Lake Macquarie certainly copped its fair share of heat.

The ambient temperatures are not all that has dropped off now though. The fishing action has certainly slowed a little, and did not live up to the expectations the offshore game anglers had after last season’s ripper.

However, even though the black marlin did not fire on the inshore grounds, all is not lost for crews searching the big blue. The month of April is traditionally a fantastic month for gamefishing crews to chase blue marlin. The blues have been about in reasonable numbers for a month or two now, with most of the action out wide around the shelf and canyon regions. Although we haven’t seen that typical hot marlin bite in close, which provides plenty of action for live bait anglers most years, this year has seen some good results for lure anglers. Bigger lures in the 10”-14” size range in a variety of colours have been scoring good numbers of solid fish. The NSW GFA interclub event at Port Stephens this year was a clear indication that the marlin bite was not what we’d hoped for, but the results certainly showed there were still fish about and not all crews missed out, that’s for sure. It’s been great to see a few other species turn up to entertain the game anglers as well. There have been quite a few short-billed spearfish landed this year, which is great to see.

Shark anglers are also having a tough time of it, with big currents raging down the coast at times. Fast currents up to 4 knots have played havoc on these guys. A few have managed to deal with the conditions though, and tiger sharks to 300kg have been landed. Local LMGFC boat Redemption skippered by Steve Dial has been in the thick of it as usual, with their persistence resulting in a number of reasonable sharks coming aboard. Another LMGFC boat, Reel Crazy, has also been getting into the action, and has managed to bring a few solid fish to the club gantry.

The marlin fishing isn’t the only offshore fishing that’s not living up to expectations. The FADs this year have been far from spectacular. Very ordinary, to say the least. That’s not to say that there are no good mahimahi to be caught; there certainly are, just not at the FADs. Most mahimahi have been caught by anglers trolling a spread of game lures and picking them up during the marlin troll. Many good ones have also been plucked off floating debris, with a few pallets and other items floating along and holding some great fish off them, so keep an eye out.

The kingfish have been playing ball on occasions, with Bird Island to the south of Swansea producing some great fish. Slow trolled live baits and deep diving lures have produced the better fish.

Fishing inside continues to be productive, and has not slowed at all. It’s all been happening, with great bags of bream, flathead and whiting on offer. Lure anglers are having a great time, and we are seeing some real cracking bags of bream about. Fishing around boat hulls has been producing good numbers, and working diving hardbody lures around these hulls has been scoring good fish. Another effective method is to flick very lightly weighted soft plastics around the boat hulls. Make sure you pay close attention to keeping your noise down, as these fish spook easily.

As the water temps start to cool off over the coming months we will start to see a bigger effort made on the deep sections of the lake. Places like Chain Valley Bay and Bonnells Bay will start firing as the flats generally start to cool off and become less productive. These areas are fantastic fishing spots, and generally fish best in the early morning or late afternoon when there is far less boat traffic. I like to fish these locations with a variety of soft plastics and blade style lures. When slowly hopped across the bottom they can be very effective, and provide plenty of fun out on the water.

Flathead have been about in good numbers, and now that we are coming into the cooler months these flathead will also come off the flats and shallow edges and start to move into deeper water. I will now start working anywhere from 4m through to 10m as the bait balls start moving about. This approach produces plenty of flathead for us each year, and we always get a few real crackers over 80cm. I like soft plastics in the 4-5” range, and my favourite colours are green, pink and white.

Bait anglers have been getting into the action as well. It has been really good to see so many legal-size red bream coming from the lake this year. Some anglers who have fished with bait at anchor have been scoring half a dozen nice legal reds a session. Up around Belmont Bay is the pick for them, and there is some good structure you can locate on your sounder. Find these spots, anchor up and work it until the results come your way.

There are still a few nice mulloway around which is always good to see. Anglers fishing live squid are getting the better results, and some nice fish between 80-90cm are about. You can generally secure a few nice squid in no time from spots such as the dropover or the patch out from Murrays Beach.

Now that we are coming into April we should start to see more nice mulloway around, and anglers working lures will also be nailing their share. I suggest working the bait balls that are starting to filter through the lake, and which should stick around for the next few months at least. I recommend sticking to the edges of these bait balls. You will certainly be able to mark the bigger fish on your sounder. I love this style of fishing and look forward to it each autumn/winter. Plenty of flathead should be feeding on the scraps under the bait, and a few nice mulloway from the edges can make for some sensational lake fishing, so give it a go and let us know how you fare.

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