The last month of the Summer is usually a good one for anglers in our area.
Our annual influx of holiday anglers and water-sport buffs has abated and I have no doubt they have left plenty of fish for us poor locals. However, there is an increasing trend, particularly from Sydney people, to set up their caravans and leave them around here in a ‘holiday van’ status.
Who can blame them – a couple of hours’ drive from the city puts the keen angler at one of the best waterholes in the state.
The fishing in our area has been up and down during the warmer months, mainly due to the dry weather and colder water in our estuary. Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie should fire this month. The commercial netting is finished and that coastal rain we are so accustomed to is gradually returning.
I’ll stick my head on the block and predict February, March and April to produce some of the best fishing we have seen in this area for a long time.
Meanwhile, whiting, bream and tailor have been haunting Blacksmiths Beach on a day-on, day-off basis for some time. When conditions are right the fishing can be exciting. Other times, bed was probably the better option.
The whiting have also returned to Swansea Channel. Land-based fishos have been snaring good quality fish from the northern breakwall and the training wall between the heads and the Granny Pool. Tailor, bream and flathead are also getting in the act around these areas.
For the boat angler, drifting any part of the channel from the heads to the drop-over into Lake Macquarie can be very productive. Species that can be expected are flathead bream and flounder. Trolling for tailor and kingfish close to the northern breakwall can also be productive, but beware – this area will become pretty rugged when the wind and tide are coming from the opposing directions.
The best way to nail a feed of those elbow-slapping whiting is to anchor in one of the shallow channels that run into the main channel from between the sand islands opposite Pelican Marina and the aerodrome. Blood or tube worms combined with a steady berley trail will do the trick.
There are plenty of land based anglers who catch quality whiting, bream and flathead by wading the shallows and casting lures and baits to the deeper runs.
Blue swimmer crabs have been around in numbers and are always a great bonus in Lake Macquarie. Witches’ hat nets or drop nets are the way to catch a feed of these beauties. Traps of any design are not allowed in Lake Macquarie. Best crab baits are fresh fish frames, but any meaty bits will work. I have even baited up with small tins of cat food –just punch a few holes in the can and hang it in the net. It works, and sure beats wasting money on the moggy.
Good quality prawns have also been on the run, with catches of a couple of kilograms and better the norm. The way the weather is shaping up, I predict the prawn run will continue well into April.
Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie are looking clean and healthy at this stage and heaps of undersize fish are being caught and released, but don’t despair, little fish grow up to be big fish.
The author chasing tailor from Blacksmiths Beach.
A nice breakfast-sized whiting that tried to swallow a whole pilchard and three 2/0 ganged hooks rigged for tailor.Reads: 1936