Easter treats
  |  First Published: April 2017

The seasonal change is upon us, with the darker mornings and cooler nights that will lead up to the cold weather. While some people find the cold crippling, I see it another way – it’s a good time for all things that love the wintery water conditions. We get to see the positioning and aggregation of migrating fish from the estuary come to its peak.

Easter is the traditional mark of the mullet run, and the slightest westerly breeze will see them pour out from the entrance of the lake and onto the beach. If they are lucky they’ll miss the nets and have a successful spawn, and be able to make it back into an estuary at their leisure.

More importantly, there will be tonnes of bream and blackfish evacuating the estuary system all along the coast around the same time as the mullet. The repopulation of big bream and blackfish along the coastal fringe is exciting.

As the water cools off, the rocks will produce a great mixed bag, including an increasing number of pigs and some solid tailor. Currently there should be a heap of slimies travelling the coast, and with them the shadowing schools of longtail tuna or northern bluefin tuna. I know many anglers look forward to early mornings spinning and live baiting the stones, and I think this year may just have an extra surprise in store. I believe it is quite possible there may be a small black or a decent Spanish landed along the mid north coast this LBG session.

Offshore, anglers trolling the warm currents are hoping for more marlin. Spotties and the odd Spanish mackerel should be surfacing while the tail end and thinning of the big bonito schools will be obvious over the next month. With the numbers of bonito dwindling, the pressure on the slimy schools will not let up. And with the northern blues come mac tuna and sharks, so those anglers fishing offshore or live baiting from the rocks will be in for a hectic session or two.

Just a note for anyone fishing the rocks over the Easter break, please take your rubbish home with you. It’s not fair that the guys who value the access to spots have to clean up all the crap left behind by a few anglers too filthy to do the right thing.

The lake

In the lake the migrating fish are starting to gather around leases and structure in the lower part of the lake. Places like leases around the Wallamba River, Mosquito Point and The Paddocks should hold fish, as will the bridge a little later in the month. The bream that have been tucked up in the headwaters of tributaries start to move downriver and gather at significant structure along the way, so target any likely spots throughout the system. The closer we get to May, the more concentrated the fish will be in the lower sections of the lake mouth.

Flathead are still easy victims of slow-rolled plastics or drifted bait, and with the numbers of shallow sand banks and channels around The Paddocks you don’t have to go far from the boat ramp to get a feed. Breckenridge Channel has been a productive area of late; from Blue Peter’s back to Gloria Jeans is worth a drift, especially if you grab a coffee first.

The break wall will fish well over the next few months as it traffics the bream and blackfish out of the lake. Evenings are the prime time to fish, and the best baits are lightly-weighted yabbies and prawns. The attraction of all the mullet and blackfish evacuating will not be lost on the mulloway either. Mulloway are always an option for the angler who wants a bit of a challenge and a decent feed.

Sadly the measure of a hot summer is often the extent of the local fish kill. The local freshwater often suffers from heated water and low flow through summer, and even excessive weed growth. Consecutive mid-40°C days in February impacted on a section of the Manning River, causing a significant fish kill. There were masses of dead bass, eel, mullet and catfish, and across all four species it was the largest specimens that had died.

I have no doubt the river will bounce back though, and not suffer any lasting effects. And hopefully we’ll get a flood this winter to transport the bass for a big spawning year.

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