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The dark side draws power
  |  First Published: February 2006



By now everyone in the area should be aware of the marine park footprint that stretches the coast from Port Stephens to Forster.

The declaration of the Marine Park was, in spite of anything to the contrary, a ram job. Perceived consultation with interest bodies was a feel-good exercise and had little sway with the final result or area covered.

The reality is the marine park is here and our next hurdle, as anglers and concerned citizens, is to have a say on how we use, how often we use and why we use the areas smothered by the near-97200 hectares invisible zone.

Let me paint you a picture if we choose not to fill in the Marine Parks Authority questionnaire and at least make some noise.

The statistics will show no angler uses a particular area and, as such, it is not important as a recreational resource. In the minds of the authority that is ample justification to make it a lock-out area and you will never be able to fish it again.

It is vitally important to have your say via the questionnaire (download at http://www.mpa.nsw.gov.au/psglmp/psglmp.htm ) .With deadlines and the short public expressions consultation period, the timing of the questionnaire may have elapsed by the time you read this, due to deadlines and printing, but forge on anyway. Print it, fill it in with as much detail as possible and post (free) it in late.

They will possibly ignore it but maybe if enough voters voice an opinion they may reconsider. Without it, we have no excuse to complain when they lock you out of your favourite live-bait platform or drifting ground. I

have to admit to being generally nonplussed when it comes to Government hypocrisy. Lockouts will come into existence; areas that are used by anglers will be lost forever, make no mistake about it.

The fast-tracking of the zoning plan for August 2006 and the timing of the questionnaire (through the Christmas/ New Year period) reeks of political expediency with an aim at securing Green preferences at the next election in 2007.

I’m hoping the three-month public consultation will be extended but perhaps not. The whole exercise and creation of the marine park is based on spurious data that has been massaged by a minority of vested-interest lobbyists with an agenda of saving the world.

LAKE IS HOT

On a brighter note, the Marine Park doesn’t encompass Wallis Lake and it is chockers with flathead and bream of all sizes at the moment.

The wake from the holiday buzz should settle from now and parking at the ramp will be less of a chore.

The flatties can be found just about everywhere with some nice fish coming from the Wallamba River above Shallimar. Lures, bait, it doesn’t matter what you use. I even managed to tease some to the surface in three metres of water on poppers.

An incident on a recent trip is a good indication of the population of flathead in the lower lake. The morning started with a few small flathead and as the sun peaked over Cape Hawke, a mate led a small but legal flathead to the side of the boat.

As the fish surfaced, thrashing as they do, another flathead of around 1.2metres appeared and tried to Hoover the small one into its mouth. You can imagine the reaction of two fishos seeing that. It was a ‘wash your mouth out with a full cake of soap’ moment.

Sand whiting have also sparked up and so aggressive are they that Brian Everingham and I caught 15 fish to 40cm in 4.5metres of water on 50mm surface poppers. At one stage we had a school of 20 legal fish smashing our lures like salmon.

So a well-drifted worm or yabby bait along the northern channel of Godwin Island should see a few sandies in the boat.

Chris Machonachie managed a few school jew while fishing for flathead around the area of Hells Gate, so the lake seems to be fishing well in all departments.

Whiting, bream, dart and a few school jew are appearing in catches on the beach with the hole on the beach at Janie’s Corner fishing well. A lot of small tailor are around, too, so that increases the chance of a jew on the beach. Fresh tailor strips or a big bunch of beach worms should tempt any fish lurking around.

Offshore, the nor’-easters have been making things uncomfortable through the day but early mornings and night sessions have produced some reds, bonito and good action for the guys interested mahi mahi.

So February can be a hot, humid and windy month but also very productive. If only we knew what the dark clouds of the marine park were going to do, and where. Brace yourselves…

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