Welcome to May on Lake Macquarie. I am excited. I love this time of year. May, June and July are some of my favourite months for fishing the lake. For starters, the ambient temperatures have cooled considerably now, and that in itself makes fishing so much more pleasant.
If you’re like me and do the majority of your fishing in an open style boat, then the summer months can certainly be a little draining. Sitting out in the direct sun for hours of flicking lures can take its toll, no matter how sun smart you are.
It’s not only the pleasant temperatures that make me enjoy this time of year so much, though. Lake Macquarie really fires over these cooler months if you know what to target and where to target them.
We often hear that during the warmer months the fish are in shallower waters and with the cooler months, as the water temperatures drop, the fish move off the flats and into the deeper sections. Hopefully this article will give you a few ideas to really make the most of what the lake can offer during the coming months.
It’s funny, when I was growing up we basically packed the boat away for the cooler months, thinking everything would shut down. These days it’s literally the opposite. I give the boat a good wash up and make sure everything is in top condition with new leaders on, new jigheads and everything. I really put the effort in more than any other time of year, because I know what’s on offer.
It’s true: fish generally head to deeper waters during the cooler months, but don’t let that fool you. During certain conditions and weather patterns the flats can fire as well as any other time of the year. Pay great attention to the weather. If you notice a lovely old southerly change coming through then throw on a few shallow diving hardbody lures and get to your nearest set of flats.
I don’t care if you’re up the top end of the lake or down the southern end. The bream love a good southerly buster. As long as it’s safe to do so, get out and fish that southerly. I’ll generally opt for brighter lures and relatively shallow diving options. I’ll work them really slow as a rule. This way you can expect some very good bream in both size and numbers.
When the weather gods don’t play into my hands I start to look at the deeper options. I work a variety of soft plastics and metal blades or vibes. There are a few spots throughout the lake that suit this approach, and it really is a matter of trying different spots in your area. You’ll start to put some patterns together.
For those of us that like to chase a feed of flathead or like to work for that trophy flathead, now is prime time. Like most anglers I opt to release all my larger flathead these days. I’m not going to preach what’s right and wrong – it’s a personal choice, so long as no laws are broken. I like to keep a few around 50cm and I let all our big girls go. Again, that’s just a personal thing.
During these cooler months you will find large concentrations of bait coming into the lake. These will be balls of tailor, and they are exactly what you should be looking for. Don’t work the actual schools as you will just go through loads of lures and not get much in return for your efforts. Instead, work the edges of these bait schools and under them as well. This is where you will find the majority of the flathead and some ripper mulloway as well.
I like to work soft plastics again for this style. I will usually use 5-6” plastics. I will always start with white and if there’s no luck I’ll start to mix up the colours. Usually a green or pink change will fire things up. Ensure you use a jighead with just enough weight to work the bottom. If the drift is too quick due to wind, drop over a drift chute (sea anchor) and you’re back in business.
Something else we also found in the cooler months last year was that you can often score a few reasonable juvenile snapper as well while working these bait balls – so don’t be surprised if you score a reddy up to 60cm in the lake.
Offshore fishing also has plenty on offer still for those willing to put the time and effort in out on the ocean. From this month onwards the gamefish will be wider.
Any inshore action is basically done for the season and game fishing crews will turn their attention to wider ground. Now is a great time to be out wide hunting for large blue marlin. A spread of larger 10-16” skirted trolling lures will be the norm for boats chasing big blues. You would basically start around the shelf. Stick to the shelf and the canyons and these general wide grounds.
As a rule, set your larger lures in closest to the boat, so you have maybe a 16” on the short corner, 14” on the long corner and then a 12” on the short rigger and a 10” out on the long rigger. This is a guide that will certainly see you in with a shot, if you stick to something like this.
As the waters cool off now is also a great time to try your luck for tuna. Again, the wide grounds are the best bet for our area. Your choice of lures may be different from your marlin spread. I’d opt for 10” size lures in close and as small as 6” lures further back in your spread. Bullet style and jet head style lures are great for anglers chasing tuna, so keep that in mind when selecting your spread.
Kingfish are another species that head wide and deep as things cool off. You will see far fewer kingfish on the inshore reefs now as the bulk of the quality fish are out wider on the deeper reefs. Locations such as Texas Reef or Allmark off Port Stephens are the pick of the spots during the cooler months. Deep set live baits and heavy jigs are prime options for anglers wanting to get into these kings offshore over winter.
There are still a few good schools of pelagics working along the rocks at the moment with some very good bonito on the chew. Rock anglers can get in on this action and boat fishers throwing soft plastics and high-speed metal lures are also in with a shot. It’s great to see a few keen locals like Mick Pavlic scoring plenty of great fish again this year on his flyfishing gear. It’s a real art and fantastic to watch in action.
As always, stay safe out there as we have again just seen another vessel capsize near Moon Island and result in a helicopter rescue. Remember that old saying which is a true one: no fish is worth dying for.Reads: 450