Estuary flatties are on target
  |  First Published: October 2006

I recently went for a fish after a two-month break, the longest I have had from fishing in my life. We got nothing but throwback fish although I did pull the hook on one decent snapper close to the boat.

Week after week of decent swell has had me opting for the surfboard instead of the rods but now that the days are getting longer and the sun’s strength is boosting underwater life‚ the fishing and my enthusiasm will steadily improve from now.

Estuary flathead will be a good target with increasing water temps jump-starting their metabolism after they endured water as cold as 9° not too many weeks ago. Already some quality lizards have been succumbing to lures and bait.

A sparse but regular scattering of estuary jewfish to 8kg have kept the keenest lure anglers happy throughout Winter and this action should continue up to Christmas. Once the increased holiday boat activity occurs, night forays will be more productive with live baits and fresh squid worth a shot. But, for now, daytime plastics will be the go.

Last year the yellowfin bream seemed to return to our estuaries a month earlier than the normal November schedule so don’t be surprised to see the oyster racks filling up with some early arrivals this month. Be warned, they will be hungry and full of fight so tighten up those drags!

Snapper have been hot to trot for those who have scored calmer conditions between the swells. Fish from 3kg to 5.5kg have been common with very few smaller specimens, particularly in the shallows. Cuttlefish numbers dramatically increased in August and September and anglers scored regular hook-ups and multiple captures off the rocks, by casting plastics in close from boats and fishing on the deeper reefs with bait.

Some sizeable kingfish have been lurking around the slimy mackerel schools but with this marine park set to come in to effect soon, I am not sure where we will be able to actively target them.


Beach anglers have had a bit to cheer about lately with some nice night jewfish taken on fresh squid. Most fish seem to be around 8kg but there has been a few grapevine stories being told and some seriously big scales left in some locations. Dave Norman scored a lovely 15kg jewfish that performed like a Port Jackson shark rather than with the long runs and savage headshakes you’d normally expect.

Salmon continue to dominate the area with some quality 4kg models taken from the surf, particularly after dark. Mixed with the salmon have been a number of big gummy sharks. Skinned, bled and lightly battered, they are one of the best-eating sharks in the sea. Tailor numbers will still be thin on the beaches until the water temperature genuinely increases closer to Summer.

Speaking to a few divers recently revealed that there are some big concentrations of quality bream hanging around deep, washy bomboras and ledges along with the usual hordes of fat luderick that nobody seems to target, along with some decent trevally.

Anglers with a bent for a fierce tussle with black drummer maintain that it is one of the best seasons in years, with regular good bags a few monumental dustings the norm.

On the game scene we should still see a few good yellowfin tuna, stripies and albacore around with a big mako a possibility. Some southern bluefin to 68kg were also captured a little while ago.

It is hard to say when the first striped marlin will show after their numbers took an absolute hammering from longliners last summer from Jervis Bay to Bermagui. Seriously, do anglers who happily tag and release marlin with high survival rates have to endure witnessing hundreds of marlin dying on a longline again this season? It doesn’t take Einstein to realise the economic value of these majestic billfish to the recreational sector, not to mention the ethical dilemma of removing so many of the ocean’s apex predators. The sooner all billfish are declared recreational-only, the better.

With the water temps on the rise, now is the time to target dusky flathead. Stoked groms Anthony and Dom Patrizi with a pair of Tuross flatties, the best going just over 80cm.

While snapper are on offer year-round, October generally marks the end of the Winter run. Dean Heycox has been scoring numerous fish to 5.5kg off the rocks, with quality fish most trips.

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