Food chain gets a kick-start
  |  First Published: May 2004

THE AUTUMN months are nearly over and the fishing is still as good as I predicted.

Swansea Channel is providing anglers with great catches of flathead. With the return of much needed heavy rain in March, the lake has been stirred up and the food chain has been given a kick-start. This activity is so necessary to attract the better quality fish into our estuary.

The channel, lake and the breakwalls have all been producing quality fish. Tailor, bream, jewies and whiting from the breakwalls have been keeping the land-based fishos busy. The ever-faithful Salts Bay is still producing plenty of good-sized bream and flathead, along with the occasional small, but legal, snapper.

Drifting the channel is always an interesting way to spend a few hours. 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 invading the channel up to the bridge.

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

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

Another area to seek out large bream is among the moorings. Those line-stretching bream that got to be big because they ignored those bits of bait with a hook in it love to shelter under moored boats and often a lure will bring them unstuck. Cast the lures as close as possible to a moored boat but don’t hit the hulls if you can help it – the owner might be watching from the hill above.

Small bibbed lures and soft plastics work well. Use a steady retrieve with the occasional flick of the rod tip to impart a little more action to the lure.

Drifting baits over the drop-over into the deeper water will sometimes produce some nice mixed bags, as all the popular estuary-dwellers frequent this location at some time or another.

Just past the drop-over in about six to seven metres of water is a yellow buoy which belongs to the sailing fraternity. This area has been providing us with some great feeds of blue swimmer crabs.

I have mentioned over the past few months the new style of drop nets I now use which make it so much easier to release those jennies in roe. The witches’ hats do a lot of damage to the egg sacs and the only choice is to cut the crab free.

If we are going to get serious about sustainability of our resources then now might be a good time for the local Fisheries officials to review their stand on crab traps. In my opinion, one crab trap per person would do far less damage to the environment than five witches’ hats.

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