Surf, sand and, of course, sunburn, blisters and exposure herald the New Year holiday break on the Mid-North Coast.
Along with the hot weather have come the continued water restrictions in the area that are of concern due to the influx of visitors. Happily, the visitors who fish should have a good time on the water. Flathead, bream, whiting, blue swimmer crabs and odd mud crab are all worth chasing.
Flathead take centre stage in the warmer weather with the large sand whiting proving far more difficult to catch. The crabs are a set-and-forget option until the end of your day’s fishing and well worth a half-hour first up in the morning to set the witches’ hats.
Baits or lures will take an abundance of flatties in the lower and middle reaches of the lake and tributaries. More and more flathead are falling to soft plastics fished for bream so flathead lures like deep divers, double tails and shads thrown in the same sort of spots should produce the goods.
Most sandy spots with weed beds will hold flathead at this time of year and one of the best shallow-water offerings is the 1/4oz DOA Shrimp in clear. Drifted and retrieved just over the weed patches, this lure will produce fish but covering water is important.
Plenty of trumpeter whiting have been coming in from the Wallamba Arm just around from the Tuncurry boat ramp. Worms and yabbies are good baits and I saw one bloke’s rod rigged with a double-dropper paternoster rig with a trailing hook under the sinker. It must work because he was cleaning a bucketful of fish.
The clean sand flats and holes are holding some good sand whiting and live yabbies and blood or beach worms are worth rigging on light lines. Try 2kg test and less of fish may shy away baits. The sand flats under the bridge, including the scoured holes behind the pylons, are worth a throw. Some good bags of flathead have also come from the Tuncurry Channel side around the bridge. The sand island directly in front of the Co-op can be drifted with good results on the whiting and occasional big flathead.
Due to water restrictions, the cleaning tables have had the water spouts capped off so grab a bucket of seawater to rinse off your catch. Water is that scarce at the moment so please consider and abide by the local restrictions.
Other species that do not generally get a thought during the holiday break, but are good fun and eating, are garfish, mullet and leatherjackets. Another thing that has to be considered during the school holidays is the kids. If they are young and inexperienced, try the main wharf in Forster Boat Harbour.
A little bread or fish flesh berley and you are in business with herring, yellowtail, and some wary bream. On the bottom, leatherjackets and occasional flathead can be raised on prawns, worms or fish flesh baits. The kids don’t need to cast their baits far and that makes it a whole lot easier on Dad or Mum.
A few stud tailor did turn up on the beach last month for those who braved the nor’-easters. If the wind settles down, whiting, bream, and dart are the prime targets on the beach during the rising tide. Baits of beach worm, pipis, and even yabbies are first-class. Light lines are best when chasing the gutter drifting schools of fish from the beach. You don’t need to anchor your bait to the sand, the fish will find it.
Lloyd Campbell and the lads trolled for a good 12 hours and didn’t turn a reel a while back. The weather was perfect for them and the trip was sandwiched between days when the nor’-easters blew their heads off. The target was marlin and in spite of an encouraging report of a little black up off Blackhead, the boys did not see a fish, bird or any life offshore. Very strange indeed.
Limited reports from offshore are available with some snapper, trag and sand flathead keeping the brave or luck happy when they can get out.
The rivers, creeks and tributaries are fishing well for flathead. Some good bream are around but a lot of the fish are small. Bait anglers late in the afternoon have had some success on bream and flathead while snub-nosed gar, mullet and herring are easily attracted with berley. The best of the bream surface-luring should be happening from at least the middle of this month and extending through to mid-March.
School holidays mean kids want to go fishing. This young bloke scored a sizable yellowtail from the Forster Boat Harbour wharf.
The Boat Harbour wharf is safe and there are plenty of fish that can be encouraged with a little berley. The lack of strong tidal flow eliminates the need for heavy sinkers and casting the line.Reads: 512