At last the cooler weather is with us, normally bringing a change of our fishing tactics.
We usually start going after the cooler-water fish like bream and blackfish. But this year is different: The warm currents are staying with us and the Summer fish are still firing. I have been predicting Autumn to be our best fishing months and, for once, I think I’ve got it right.
Swansea Channel is still coming up with quality flathead on the drift and the bream are biting in the channel and in Salts Bay. Whiting are still in the channel, perhaps not in the numbers of previous years, but still good value. Bloodworms are the premium baits and the sand flats and shallow channels between the sand islands are the best spots. Blackfish should soon be showing up around Lucy’s Wall, the Swansea Bridge and the other groynes along the channel.
Lake Macquarie is fishing well for most estuary species. Look for flathead along the drop-overs and in the deep water toward Pulbah Island. Lure-fishing this area can be very productive. Soft plastics are best and can produce a real lucky dip. I have caught flathead, bream, and the odd dinner-plate-sized flounder on plastics. The minnow types are my favourites.
Tailor have invaded the lake and are slamming trolled lures. Anything that shines or wriggles is the go. My partner and I recently bagged four nice toothy critters trolling a Richos barra lure. I firmly believe these lures will catch anything that swims. The tailor appear to be everywhere in the lake, so look for the feeding birds and follow the schools.
Reports from the western side of lake are encouraging. Dave, who runs a fishing and camping stall at the Morriset Markets, told me that he and a mate bagged a few nice squire that were almost in the snapper class, fishing off Toronto towards the northern end of Lake Macquarie.
The blue swimmer crabs are always a bonus, and if I sound a bit biased so, be it –Lake Macquarie crabs are the cleanest and sweetest I have caught in this state or any other. The big blueys are running and should do so up to Winter.
Remember, if you go after crabs in Lake Macquarie, no traps are allowed. Five witch’s-hat nets or five hoop nets per person is the legal way to do it.. The ‘share farmers’ (trap poachers) are still around in the lake, so it’s best to stay near your crab pots. If the nets are left out overnight, you run the risk of losing your crabs and maybe the nets as well. What a shame when some fool runs the risk of a criminal record for the sake of a $5 witch’s hat.
Talking to fishos from one side of the lake to the other I get the definite feeling that the fishing in our area is on the improve. A lot of people will tell you it’s not what it used to be, but there a lot of things that are not what they used to be. So lets look on the bright side: We have a net-free lake so make the best of it and look after what we have.
A strip of squid, a drift over the drop-over into Lake Macquarie and bingo! a nice pan-sized lizard.
This dusky flathead, right, was caught in Lake Macquarie, while the sand flathead came from Swansea Channel.
The author with a nice sandy caught drifting the Swansea Channel. The bait was a whole pilchard that was none too fresh.Reads: 15736