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Back to normal – nearly!
  |  First Published: February 2004



IT’S GOOD to be experiencing a proper Summer again with all the expected weather patterns it brings. Late afternoon storms and uncomfortably hot, clear days suggest the weather is back on track – but are the fish?

If past years are anything to go by, we should get some rain during the latter half of this month, which will encourage things. Many anglers get frustrated at slight freshes but I reckon they are a tonic to the fish that get them mobile and hungry.

Spinning around the rocks has started to produce some smallish bonito, which, in turn, encourage the travelling kingfish closer to the rocks. Long casts with slug-type metal lures are great for when the schools are wide of the wash but, when they move close to the suds chasing whitebait, there is nothing better than a soft plastic Slug-Go, Squidgy or stickbait.

Schools of bait have been on the move with slimies, sea gar and yellowtail making appearances in berley trails. I’ve not had any reports of early longtail tuna yet, but it is only a matter of time before a few small fish sneak into the area on their way south, with the bigger fish following in April and May.

The water is warming with some marlin activity around the inshore areas and big kingies at The Pinnacle. Mahi mahi (dolphin fish) have been hanging around floating debris and buoys offshore. Current lines, too, are worth a look for dollies and trolling through the areas with skirts and high-speed lures is a good exploratory technique.

THE LAKE

I love February for fishing but even more for crabbing. The swimmers are well and truly on the march and a witch’s hat loaded with fresh fish frames is a certainty this month. The best thing is to set your nets, go for a fish and collect them before you head home.

The prawn runs this year have been OK but fishing the prawn runs is where you can take advantage of some good catches. Lures or live prawns bounced along the bottom in locations like Breckenridge Channel, are dynamite on the bream, some big flatties and even big whiting adding variety.

During daylight anglers will notice a vast increase in fish activity over the sand flats. Small whiting, mullet and tiny, nondescript fry hunt along the shoreline while the deeper water shadows some big whiting, bream and flathead.

There have been plenty of big flatties (4kg-plus) taken over the past month or so on a variety of lures and live baits and many of these fish made it back into the water. Others have appeared as head ornaments on trees or fences close to cleaning tables, which is a shame.

I don’t need to stress the importance of the large female flathead to the health of future stocks. It is up to all of us to help protect our fisheries and encourage the large spawning models to survive.

I had to find some big blackfish for some photos the other day and I managed to locate some stud fish over the weed flats close to Wallis Island. The fish responded to some weed I collected from the pond near Forster breakwall. I floated it over a patch on a No 10 sneck hook. There are plenty of schools of small blackfish, up to 7cm, taking refuge under the oyster trays and racks around the lake and it looks like this year’s spawn was very successful.

Bream on fizzers and other surface lures are great fun and at this time of year are easy pickings. Up the snaggy rivers and around other structure in the lake, like cockle weed beds, the bream should be going nuts over surface offerings. It is one of the most exiting ways to catch bream you will ever experience.

The appearance of more and more mangrove jacks from the lake is set to tease me still. Chris from Forster Beach Caravan park plucked a 1.57kg specimen from the jaws of death while fishing for blackfish the other month. Chris recalled a huge boil and swirl, like something was being eaten, and then a beaten, barely alive jack made its way slowly past the boat. Chris reached and plucked the well-conditioned, though traumatised, jack from the water. At some point I will track down a few jacks and nail them on lures. Until then the jacks are out there…

BEACHES

While I haven’t had my regular beach report filtering through, I suspect the whiting, dart, smaller bream and the odd flathead are doing the job.

School jew, too, should be on the move but a more dedicated and specialised approach is required for more consistent results. Live worms are available from some tackle shops and the odd boat shed or you can have a go at gathering your own. It can be fun, but you have to butter up your ‘plumber’s crack’ with sunscreen to avoid the painful sunburn ass-ociated (joke) with the bent-over stance required to extract the worms.

If that is too much trouble, the pipi twist may be more your style. Either way, fresh bait will score more fish.

Regardless of what types of fishing you are into, there is something this month to suit. So get out and enjoy it because before you know it, we will be into the Winter decline again.

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