The cycle of Nature can be a cruel thing. In the midst of a prolonged dry spell, a few days of rain at the end of February caused a massive fish kill in the upper Wallamba River.
Big and small mullet littered the surface, bloated and floating in the blanket of duckweed. Perhaps the most distressing sights were the dead bass, some 40cm or so, rotting, twisted in the snags in which they once lived.
NSW Fisheries has blamed the high volume of water which made its way to the river as runoff over nutrient-rich land, high water temperature and sediments that all combined to reduce dissolved oxygen in the river. The sight and smell of thousands of fish was not pretty and the river will take a long time to recover but I hope to do a few trips to sample the fish left, if any, and I’ll report back.
If anyone needed convincing that lure-fishing for bream is more popular than ever, you need only take a look at the numbers of anglers who gather at the bream socials organised by Dave Poulton, with assistance from Greg Collins. The social held at Forster in February was attended by 59 anglers, who came together for a fish without the lure (excuse the pun!) of prizes – just a social gathering and exchange of information. During the fishing session several bream over 30cm were measured and released, though the big fish stayed quiet.
There are still good whiting, flathead and bream throughout the Wallis Lake system with some blackfish movements to the lower sections of the waterway as well. Bream are in focus at the moment with the second round of the NSW BREAM series tournament coming up on May 3 and 4. It will be interesting to see if the fish kill has affected the tidal Wallamba River and if the fresh has driven the bream downstream.
For the bait-fishing breamers, the breakwalls have been giving up some good fish from 600g to 900g. The tailing fresh sparked the fish up and the odd jew would have also homed in on the freshwater hint in the run-out.
Breckenridge Channel and the Paddocks have been producing some flathead in the lower lake area, while drifting the deeper water off the north-west corner of Wallis Island has produced mixed bags. One angler at the ramp had fished the area and had three blue swimmers that tangled in his bait and line.
This must be the time of year for flounder because I’ve caught three in the past three trips, with one measuring 32cm. Flounder are terrific eating and are easy to clean and cook, so keep an eye out for these flat taste sensations.
There are still some big gar in the lake with schools of chopper tailor shadowing them around. I have made plans to get out and gather some fresh gar for bait and salt some down for the tailor season ahead. Gar fillets are also fantastic bream and flathead bait and a lot cheaper than at a tackle store.
The beaches have been hit-and-miss affairs, with schools of dart making a nuisance of themselves, especially for those anglers using pipi baits. Some good thumping bream were skirting the breaker line and migrating fish should still be a target, along with tailor and early salmon.
Strip baits and beach worms thrown in gutters or just beyond the break will do. You don’t need a car battery for a sinker –you require only sufficient weight to find the bottom, not hold it. Bait that can move in a little the surge looks a lot more natural than one that resists wave movement. Some anglers use ball sinkers so their rig rolls around with the bait. Try to fish as light as possible.
Nine Mile and Seven Mile beaches have been fishing well for bream, dart and small tailor, with the rock fringes of Burgess Beach also producing the goods.
On the rocks, the fish have been slow again with only a few reports of fish blasting past the headlands. A few small mackerel tuna have been spun up but to date the seasonal bonito have not appeared in numbers to plague the baitfish. Slab baits will attract a whaler shark or two so if things aren’t working out on the live-bait front, you can always exorcise the drag of Winter dust by hooking up a noah.
Fishing the rocks requires up-to-the-minute information so contact me or ring Lloyd at Great Lakes Tackle in Tuncurry.
Small mackerel tuna are a good sign but the northern blues need to show up in larger numbers to get the LBG fans excited.
Seeing dead mullet and big bass in a small river does not give too much hope for the future of the aquatic life. An influx of oxygen-depleted water is being blamed. Two hundred years ago that same water would have been clean enough to drink.
Chris Martin with a 37cm bream taken on a surface fizzer during the Bream Social held at Forster.Reads: 320