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Beaches come alive
  |  First Published: November 2006




It’s daylight saving time and even if you work until 5.30pm you can still get out in the afternoon and have a good solid fish before it gets dark.

Beach fishing is always good at this time of year and you have only a minimum of gear to wash down when you are finished, so you are not cleaning up late into the night. The other good thing is that nobody in Wollongong lives much more than 10 minutes from the beach. So there are no excuses for not going.

Most beaches at the moment are holding fish of one type or another and they will only improve in coming weeks.

Down south, Bombo has salmon, bream, whiting and a few tailor while a bit further north the whiting should start to get going at The Farm and don’t be surprised if a few salmon pick up the beach worms while you are chasing the whiting.

Around Shellharbour, north and south beaches hold a variety of species including bream, salmon, tailor, flathead, whiting and a few mulloway after dark in the deeper holes and gutters.

Now we come to arguably the best fishing beaches on this part of the coast, Warilla and Windang. Due to the lake entrance (when it does run to the sea) every fish in the area is attracted to these beaches, particularly if the prawns are running.

Bream, flathead, heaps of whiting, school jew, salmon, tailor and, on the right day, yellowtail kings, have been caught in the deep gutters and a snapper is not out of the question.

On the other side of Port Kembla, Coniston Beach behind the golf course has always been a special for tailor and jewies during the Summer with a few big flathead and salmon to keep it interesting. A very productive reef just offshore means the fish don’t have to travel far from cover, particularly during the evenings, to get to the surf zone.

The northern beaches start with Fairy Meadow, which produces good mulloway all Summer along with whiting, salmon, tailor and a few bream. East Corrimal is renowned for its jewies and tailor with heaps of bream on the right days.

The next half- dozen beaches from Bellambi to Thirroul are not outstanding but they do have a ready supply of bream, tailor, salmon and the odd jew with plenty of whiting over the coming weeks.

From Thirroul north, the whiting seem to taper off as the jewies really dominate the next few beaches. Coalcliff is a standout. Being short and deep, it attracts plenty of tailor and jewies, as does Stanwell Park with its deep gutters. Bream, tailor, salmon, flathead and the odd snapper are also on the cards but jewies are the main event.

BEACH BAITS

For bait you can’t go past beach worms for most species from whiting, bream, salmon, flathead and school jewies. Tailor and salmon love pilchards while the big jewies love a fresh slab of tailor or squid or even a live tailor.

Throw in a few dart, trevally and rays of various shapes and sizes and there is plenty of scope for fun on the local beaches this month.

On the rocks there is a bit of action too, with a few pelagics showing to get the LBG guys started for the season. The deeper ledges down south at Kiama, Bombo, Bass Point and Port Kembla have schools of salmon and rat kings working the surface along with a few bonito and the occasional striped tuna.

Small lures on light tackle will provide fun if the pelagics come into casting range, or you could soak a pillie or live yellowtail under a float to pick up the strays. A few larger kings have been frequenting these ledges and a live squid, if you can find one, will bring these undone.

The washes right along the coast still have some very solid drummer on the bite with abalone gut taking the best fish. If you don’t like the icky mess of abs, royal red prawns are not far behind.

A few bream are still lurking in the quieter bays during the evenings if you can get some calm weather and throw in bread berley. Trevally are worth a shot this month off most of the deeper ledges if you use bread and tuna oil for berley and fish light with pilchard pieces. The south side of Bass point and Bombo are worth a look, as is Marsdens, south of Kiama.

ESTUARIES LIFT

The estuaries are really starting to hit their straps with the flathead whacking anything in range. Minnamurra has good fish along its entire length and don’t overlook some of the very shallow sand flats on the falling tide; the larger fish seem to favour these areas, particularly around the mangroves.

A few bream are around the bridges while some of the whiting down around the entrance have been small but they will get larger and increase in numbers over coming weeks.

Lake Illawarra is going well with flathead along the main channel, up at the drop-off and around Tallawarra and the entrance to the feeder streams.

Bream are taking lures and live prawns around the rocky walls and islands and down under the bridge during the evening, with whiting seemingly increasing daily around the sand flats at the entrance to the lake.

There are garfish and plenty of mullet if you berley with bread and bran at the drop-off and a few bream often appear as well.

OFFSHORE

We have had a great run of early Spring yellowfin tuna so let’s hope it continues. Heaps of fish to 35kg have been taken with a few up to 60kg. Good, old-fashioned cubing brought many fish undone with trolling scoring some good ’fin along with a few albacore.

Most fish were well offshore, out around the Kiama Canyons, but some were caught in as close as 60 fathoms. I even spotted a few small yellowfin jumping along with some large striped tuna only a couple of kilometres from Bellambi ramp.

Still out wide, a few striped marlin have been having a look at the lures trolled for ’fin and they should pick up in numbers over the coming weeks.

Mako sharks of various sizes are about most days on the shelf while tiddlers up to 20kg are on the closer reefs annoying the snapper fishos. Small schools of striped tuna are still about but what they lack in numbers they make up in size with fish up to 8kg.

In closer, the yellowtail kings are over the usual reefs and around the islands and off Bass Point but livebaits are needed for best results on larger fish.

The same areas have plenty of silver trevally. Just anchor and berley and the fish will come to you. Salmon and a few tailor and bonito are all along the coast, just watch for the birds and the splashes.

Only the odd decent snapper seems to be about with most fish only just legal. Mowies seem to be on the increase along with a few pigfish and some of the samson fish that start to get about this time of the year, but they are only a few kilos at most and if the water warms a little more we could even see a few teraglin show over the bumps on the full moon.

For the legions of flathead fishos out there, now is your time and over the coming months there are good fish over all of the regular sand patches all along the coast, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting a feed unless one of those freezing currents show up like they can do at this time of year and shut down the bite for a few days.

There is never any shortage of leatherjackets, which seem to be everywhere. They arrived a couple of seasons ago and, like everyone else, I cannot remember seeing them in such masses. Over reefs and sand they seem to be everywhere and make it difficult to keep a bait in the water for any other species.

FAREWELL TO SIMPLICITY

Someone once said the simple things in life are often the best. A simple thing like catching a fish, taking it home and putting it on the barbie is something Aussies have been doing forever. But now, even though we pay a premium for this privilege, we are being restricted to the point where it will no longer be possible in many areas as we are locked out of marine sanctuaries.

I am a conservationist but I am not a fanatic. Use things in a responsible manner without greed and the system will cope. Let’s face it, we anglers really don’t take that many fish. We are restricted by time, weather, fish movements, skill and numerous other variables – and now where we can fish.

Some of the figures I see bandied around as the yearly catch stats for amateur anglers are laughable. If you sit down and work them out, everyone is catching lots of fish every time they go fishing and that is several times a week – I wish!

The only sad fact is the Government knew exactly what it wanted years ago and it has taken this long to go about selling the final result. Angler consultation was only an exercise in politics because virtually nothing changed in the original draft bar a few tokens that were inserted as a sacrificial offering or ambit claim, anyway.

I want to see what they are doing to protect these precious areas by restricting acid sulfate runoff after even minor flooding, siltation and sedimentation, sewage and stormwater runoff, habitat destruction and other pollution. Not to mention the unsustainable professional activities outside sanctuary zones.

I wonder if the authorities have pondered that most fish are migratory and will swim out of these zones and that even by tying up the very best fishing spots all along the coast, the fish will still be targeted somewhere in their travels and taken out of the system.

The big losers are the local towns and businesses, take note Narooma and Batemans Bay chamber of commerce and tourist groups. Along with 10 to 20 other angling friends and family, we would tow our boats to these towns several times a year, book several cabins for accommodation stay on average three nights at a time, eat at local clubs and restaurants, shop, buy fuel and spend lots of money.

But we won’t be coming any more because we are too restricted in where we can go fishing so we are looking to greener pastures. Odds are there are plenty of others out there like us so these towns miss out on tourist dollars and that means jobs – whoops, did I say the J-word that pollies live and die by?

Anyway, it’s a done deal. I hope the unemployment queue doesn’t get too long but then again, these people will find tourist jobs somewhere else – won’t they?

– Greg Clarke

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