Time to change tactics
  |  First Published: April 2004

WITH the advance of the cooler weather, our fishing tactics begin to change a little.

This year, the warm currents were late coming to our area, so as long as the waters stay warm through April, the fishing should remain quite good.

During the cooler months, I usually give the Swansea channel a rest and target the greater lake. Lake Macquarie has a healthy population of the flat-headed ones and they readily respond to fresh baits, soft or hard lures. The best areas are along the drop-overs into the deeper waters of the lake.

My favourite area is from the end of the sticks off Lake Road, south towards Nesca Park. This area has a blue mud bottom and the lizards love it. If you happen to pull blue mud on the anchor, don’t be in too much of a hurry to leave the spot, as these locations are not only good for flathead. Bream, flounder and squire also cruise the mud.

There are various methods of fishing this area but I have found two that work best for me.

Anchor in from two to four metres of water and get a steady stream of berley running. At times it may take a while for the berley to kick in but if the fish are around then you could be in for a hot session.

A feature of Lake Macquarie is the strange undercurrents that move in different directions, so if fishing at anchor anywhere in the lake away from the obvious tidal run, always check the drift of the berley stream. You may find the berley drifting off in a completely different direction to the lay of the blunt end of the boat.

Best baits are strips of fresh mullet, while bloodworms are also a good option. Bream love them and the odd whiting still turns up in the cooler weather. There are dozens of baits that will work on occasions, so try the lot. I firmly believe that if those scaly critters are hungry they will damn near eat anything.

The second method is to let the boat drift and cast lures ahead of the drift. Let the lure sink to the bottom, then retrieve with a lift-and-wind action to bounce the lure along the bottom. The soft lures, used with a jig head to suit the size of the lure, are excellent for this type of fishing.

Hard-bodied lures are a little more difficult to keep on the bottom, but I have had some success using the small rattlers and weighting the leader with a few split shots placed about a metre in front of the lure. The weight should be just enough to sink the lure.

From this month on, those striped bronze critters should come into their own, so polish up those blackfish wands and look for that elusive patch of weed.

Angling for luderick is not one of my better skills, but I can easily spend a couple of hours watching the experts at work and I can see how easily it would be to get well and truly hooked on fishing with the green weed and float.

April and the ensuing Easter tides signal the last great run of prawns for the lake. The last few days of the last quarter of the moon till the first day of the first quarter will possibly be the last chance for most of us to catch our Winter supply.

The prawns will still be around next month but will not be swimming out to sea in great numbers.

This time of year is also quieter for blue swimmer crabs. These delightful delicacies are about all year round, but a little bit of local knowledge will usually guarantee a few. Just talk to the locals.

Next month I will list a few more options for the colder weather.

No 1. The moorings in Swan Bay are an excellent area for targeting flathead and bream on lures. More about Swan Bay next month.

No 2.

The channel markers leading from the boat ramp at the end of Lake Road, Swansea. Wangi Wangi Point is straight ahead. Hang a left at the end of the sticks and start fishing the drop-over toward Pulbah Island.

No 3.

A work bench with bait board attached is a handy addition to the author’s ageing fibreglass boat. The boat might be old but he wouldn’t swap it for the world (unless someone has a new barra boat they want to get rid of!). The bait board was a gift from a mate and the bench was made from scrap timber. Cost: A bit of spare time to build.

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