I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the festive season. Regardless of your religious beliefs, Christmas at least provides a few public holidays that allow us to get out on the water and rub hulls with the others enjoying our magnificent waterways.
Perhaps the best thing about December is that it generally coincides with some warm water and an influx of fish activity, highlighted by good prawn runs and baitfish. The lake offers a range of good fishing from bream around the oyster leases and upper tributary snags to the bulk of the spawning male flathead in the 50cm to 60cm range.
The Paddock is a popular spot to tempt bream and flathead with strip baits, prawns or lures. Due to the shallow nature of the area around and between lease areas, many anglers concentrate their time baitfishing for bream at night or very late in the afternoon.
Another good reason to make after-dark sessions higher on the wish list is the increased water traffic at this time of year. The water blowflies (PWCs) can be a problem at times with many of the operators feeling the need to show everyone else up close how good they are.
The flatties are available from the top of the tide and the run out with the gutters and drop-offs the best target areas. Weed fringes along the channel on the north side of Godwin Island will produce a lot of flathead and this area is very popular with the hire boat visitors. This is generally a drift-fishing area and the flathead, bream and whiting love a bunch of live beach worms that can be bought around town at tackle shops and boat hire establishments.
The sand whiting should be at their aggressive best with spawning aggregations getting very testy. Those surface popping for bream will see an increase in the numbers of whiting caught and some good size fish should be among them.
Surface luring bream over the racks and flats is a spectacular way to trigger a response from the fish and although the hook-up rate is not great at times, seeing the commotion on the surface is. Popping snags up the rivers like the Wallamba, Wang Wauk and Coolongolook should improve from here to May so there’s no excuse for not having a bit of early morning excitement.
The best tide is a three-quarter run out so you get a chance to get the lure up under the overhanging shoreline vegetation.
There seem to have been a lot of jew caught off the walls lately with fish from 12kg to 17kg common. I don’t know whether they are thick or fishing is more intense or the anglers are getting better but the fish are there for the keen fishos.
There have been a few schools of bait hanging around the walls and fleeting packs of chopper tailor chasing them, which may explain the jewfish activity.
Blue swimmer crabs are getting about in increasing numbers and any areas of weed in the upper lake and around the island are good spots to set a few witches’ hats. Be careful not to set the nets in high-traffic areas or in tide races; stick to areas around the back and south-east corners of Wallis Island and you are pretty well on the money.
A few muddies are being caught and as the water warms further, they will become more plentiful.
The prawning season has got off to a great start with many prawners taking advantage of the good run. On the dark of the moon Breckenridge Channel is often choked with white lights and the silhouettes of nets and arms reaching into the water. Good hauls are being made and I recommend getting in early for a spot.
Offshore there are scatterings of kings and early mahi mahi with the bonito increasing in numbers. The bonito didn’t really disappear this year with only a lull for two months or so through Winter. Some big fish appeared in August and the smaller versions should be showing up en masse by the end of the month.
Snapper, pearl perch and trag are all available on the reefs. I know the game boys have their fingers crossed for another run of beakies like last season’s and I’ll keep you posted on developments.
The freshwater bass scene is good, although the weed is getting a little thick. Some good bass have been caught and released with Marshall Knapp banging some big fish he should be rightly proud of.
Remember the AFC series airs on Network Ten this month with the Forster episode highlighting the damage our nasty Forster lease bream can do to tackle and the resolve of the anglers chasing them. Don’t miss what will be another great series.Reads: 919