Big flatties move early
  |  First Published: November 2006

The warmth of the coming Summer is more than noticeable now, with the longer daylight-saving afternoons. The warming ground has rejuvenated the foliage that overhangs the bass rivers and the warmer water has encouraged a burst of life in the estuary.

With naturally longer days and daylight saving, the shift in the working time frame makes it possible to enjoy several hours fishing in the late afternoon, when the winds ease and the fish get motivated. It is also a very pleasant time to fish with the harsh sun easing to a warm glow over the water.

The bream have benefited from the Spring rains, the rivers needed a flush-out and the fresh has brought many of the big flathead down early.

This has been verified with many reports of big lizards in the lower section of the lake, the best catch and release being an 8.5kg fish. It makes my 85cm fish on bream gear look like a tiddler but as the warm weather improves there should be more fish in the sub-metre range being caught.

Drifting the channels is a good way of covering ground and something I remember doing with my father here at Forster many years ago.

In the light of the lure/soft plastic alternative, many of the effective older methods of targeting fish like flathead have been largely ignored of late. Drifting white bait, live poddy mullet or pilchards can produce some serious fish and covering ground is a good way of locating them.

Flathead tend to aggregate in loose shoals so where you find one fish, you are likely to find more. The fish gather either to spawn or the concentration of tidal flow and passing food brings them around. During spawning periods, say from mid-December to the end of March, you will often find a big female (over 2kg) supported by half a dozen or more smaller males that are all willing to snatch a quick bite to eat.

The lake still seems to have an abundance of big blackfish, schooling and rolling around structure and the numerous weed beds through the place.

The main oyster leases up from the bridge get their share of attention on the run-out tide along the wash barriers. The water is a bit deeper here and in the clear water it is often best to set rigs deeper.

There should be some good weed around this month and it is likely that the local tackle stores may have some. They certainly will have live beach worms.

The whiting in the lake are always looking for worm bait and with the warmer weather a supply of beach worms should come back into the tackle stores.

The sand drift gutters in the lower section of the lake and channels, as well as the drop-offs to deeper water, are all worth a prospect on a light long-shank hook rig.

At this time of the year the whiting get set to spawn and become very aggressive. Targeting them on surface poppers over deep sand patches is becoming a great way to catch them and something a little different for those who want a challenge.

Some whiting have also made their way onto the beaches, with a smattering of dart and big bream. Pipis and beach worms are the top baits with yabbies not too far behind.

The sheltered ends of beaches like One Mile will produce results early in the morning and late afternoon on a rising tide.


Latitude Rock has seen some action lately with packs of kings travelling through the area. Live slimies and squid baits are almost certain to result in a hook-up. A few early or late bonito and mack tuna are around while the trevally, flathead and small snapper cater to the bottom-bouncers.

Wider offshore, I am assured the warmer water is coming and with it the mahi mahi and the really big kings. As the water warms up the game boys will be heading wide in search of marlin and when I get reports I’ll let you know how they are going.


The freshwater ends of the local rivers have recovered from the dirty fresh and the best bass fishing is early-morning or evening surface-lure sessions. The fish are so timid during the middle of the day they are likely to be crammed into the deepest shadows the river can offer.

Recent bass trips produced only average fish up to 40cm. The fish are spread out through the rivers and more traditional search patterns will be required to pin down a good session. Basically you have to find the fish.

I for one am enjoying the daylight saving period and now look forward to Christmas. Ho, ho, ho.

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