Plenty of quality in the channel
  |  First Published: May 2003

It’s always nice to get the format almost right. I predicted good fishing in Lake Macquarie and Swansea Channel area right through the Autumn and so far, good fishing has been the order of the day.

My predictions received a lot of help in March with the return of much-needed rain. The downpours flushed out the lake and channel and stirred up the food chain so necessary to attract the better quality fish into our estuary and to spark up the ones that are there.

The channel, lake, and the breakwalls have all been producing quality fish. Tailor, bream and whiting have come from the breakwalls and bream, whiting and flathead from the ever-faithful Salts Bay.

Drifting the channel is always an interesting way to spend a few hours on the water. I have always had more success drifting the run-out tide on the seaward side of the Swansea bridge, using whole pillies or fresh strip baits. This area is a haven for flathead, bream and quite a few other interesting species in the shape of tailor, jewies, salmon and, at various times, kingfish up to the bridge.

If bait is not working then try towing a bit of heavy metal or deep-diving lures behind the boat or cast from the shore – you never know what might end up in the fish box.

To the northern end of the channel, from the Swansea bridge to the drop-over into Lake Macquarie, there are plenty of fish-producing areas. The sand bars and shallow channels that run between the sand islands and join up with the main channel and the lake are all great spots.

Swan Bay

Swan Bay is bordered on the channel side by a sand island and the on its northern and eastern shores by Marks Point. On the northern side of the channel heading toward the lake, this basically shallow bay is a lightly fished area that can produce quality flathead, bream, squire and flounder, and is host to plenty of blackfish in the colder months.

Although the bay is mainly shallow, there are a few holes up to five metres around the moorings. The tidal currents are not strong in this protected area, so floating baits or a small split shot right above the hook is the best way to go if you’re using bait.

This little bay is also a great place to hone the lure fishing skills. Those line-stretching bream that grew to be big because they ignored those bits of bait with hooks in them love to shelter under moored boats and often a well presented lure will bring them undone. Cast the lures as close as possible to the moored boats, but don’t hit them too often – the owner might be watching from the hill above.

The small bibbed lures and the soft plastic grubs all work well. Use a steady retrieve with the occasional flick of the rod tip to impart a little more action to the lure.

Farther north, towards the lake, a sand bar runs along the outer edge of the starboard channel markers. This bar reaches almost from the tip of Marks Point to the end of the channel markers. This is an interesting place to fish on the incoming tide as the water pours over the sand bar and drops over into the lake to an almost instant depth of six or seven metres.

Drifting baits over the bar into the deeper water will produce some nice mixed bags. All the popular species of estuary dwellers frequent this location at some time or another.

The fishing has been good to excellent for the past few months in our area and I see no reason why it should change this month.

I have tried this month to outline a few more places to fish the Swansea Channel and adjacent areas. Hopefully they will help to put a feed of fish on the barbie or have some sporting fun, whatever your game may be, Whatever your fishing fun may be, please release those big breeders to sustain our fishing future.



The popular boat ramp in Ungala Street Blacksmiths. The ramp is a good one with a non-slip surface suitable for most boats and vehicles. However it can be congested at weekends and holiday periods.


A nice flounder caught while drifting the Swansea Channel for flathead. Bait was a large strip of squid.


A mixed bag of whiting and bream taken from Salts Bay in an early morning session.


Map showing the northern end of Swansea Channel, from the twin boat ramps at Swansea to the drop over past Marks Point. Swan Bay is a lightly fished area that can produce quality fish.

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