With the onset of Spring, things start to warm up on land but not quite so offshore.
However, as the landmass starts to warm, so do the upper reaches of the estuaries, brackish, fresh water and impoundments. This is an exciting time of year for fishing and you don’t need a luxurious game boat or a million bucks, just a handful of lures and a packet of bait.
Starting in the upper sections of the estuaries, fish will migrate back into the systems and head upstream to the warmer water and better feeding areas. In those lakes that are closed to the ocean and not allowing fresh stocks of fish to enter, resident fish will look to congregate in the warm, shallower margins of the upper stream and flats.
Look for fish in areas you would not normally expect to find reasonable numbers. Places like Dignams and Narira creeks, up the back of Wallaga Lake, are prime spots.
Bream, especially, will be seen with their tails protruding from the water as they nose in the gravel for crabs, worms and such, usually in the middle of the creeks.
This is a great time to target these fish with lures and with a good set of polaroids, it will provide some of the best visual fishing on the South Coast. Small hard-bodied lures are my pick although the plastics can also be effective and, of course, bait will be extremely productive. Other species regularly encountered are likely to be luderick, flathead, mullet and bass returning from spawning.
In the estuaries open to the ocean, the upper tidal flats that are exposed at low tide and then covered with enough water at high tide will provide some excellent bait fishing. These flats will often pay host to large nipper and worm beds with surrounding weedy areas for cover.
Well-placed baits will take a wide variety of grazing fish as they work over the flats. Use ultra-light line with very little drag and allow the fish to have its head when hooked. Bream are especially sought after using this method and some of the first runs can be sizzling.
Not all the fish in the estuaries will be encountered on the flats. Drop-offs, weed beds and rocky outcrops will produce their fair share as tides fall and carry rich nutrients and warmer water comes off the flats and out of the mangroves. Bait fishing is extremely good and lure fishing will also produce, particularly large dusky flathead.
Further inland to the brackish and freshwater, now is the time to intercept bass as they are returning to the fresh after spawning. Hopefully the Spring rains and warmer water will allow the bass to migrate inland to their Summer feeding grounds and most of the eastern-flowing streams will host fish.
Lure fishing is extremely good. Searching the deeper holes with lures like spinnerbaits, soft plastics and deep-diving hard bodies can produce surprisingly large fish for this time of year. Estuary perch may also be a regular catch while targeting bass, especially in the brackish margins.
Keep an eye out at this time of year for those balmy days that will produce early insect hatches – this is the time to attack bass with a variety of surface lures. Bass in Brogo Dam are also on the move. Evenings after warm Spring days will often be the best with surface and subsurface lures working. Bait will produce better than other methods but I still find this time of year a little early for the dam.
Offshore is actually at its worst with water temps probably at their lowest. Game fishing will likely be poor to non-existent and with water temps around 14° or 15°, sharks and the odd bluefin tuna could be all to be encountered. Surprises do happen, though, so keep a check on our website for updated water temps.
Reef or bottom fishing can be good with anglers targeting the 50m to 70m depths as large tiger flathead return to the area. These fish are regular catches in the Spring along with morwong, snapper and other assorted reef species and if you strike some good calm seas, fish the deep water off the Twelve Mile Reef for even larger tiger flathead and maybe some Tassie trumpeter.Reads: 420