Expanding your horizons
  |  First Published: July 2005

A couple of years ago I had great laugh at a friend, Marshall Knapp, when he turned up at a social gathering wearing a supermarket freezer suit.

It wasn’t that cold but some mornings out fishing, a suit like that can be the best thing to wear even though you might look like a fool. Make sure you dress appropriately and take all the necessary precautions to stay safe and warm.

This time of year I look to expand my estuary fishing horizons and visit other local waterways. The fishing pressure on the Hastings River lower reaches in the next month or so can make fishing hard and this year it will be even harder-hit, with the river receiving a good flush recently.

The fish will be moving back in from the sea and species that were up-river will be moving down looking for warm sea water flowing into the system, so the action should be red-hot.

To relieve this pressure and to escape the crowds I’ll be spending some time moving around fishing other waterways in the Hastings area.

Laurieton and the Camden Haven River will be one of my first ports of call, with the abundant oyster leases in Gogleys Lagoon. Bream and flathead will be on the cards with school mulloway cruising the deeper sections.

Lake Cathie will be worth a try. With recent rain and big seas it will have a new lease on life and some quality fishing. Flathead, bream and the odd whiting will be the best targets.

All looks good for this little waterway, with the Hastings Council opting for regular dredging of the mouth to keep it open to the sea. In recent years this has been a touchy subject for locals and finally something is being done to help maintain this beaut waterway.


Trips to the upper reaches of the Hastings will also be on the cards, looking for bass as they move to the brackish water to spawn. In previous years the flow of the river has restricted their movement and reports of fish being caught around Bain Bridge in Wauchope have been very rare. With the river in good flow at the moment, they should make their way down comfortably, knowing that they’ll make it back to their Summer haunts.

The upper reaches of the Maria River are also worth a look. I recently explored the brackish-fresh reaches of the system looking for some bass.

Although the bass were disappointing to say the least, my companion Brendan Kiely went home very happy after landing a personal best bream. This fish came on a fizzer, cast to lily beds in the hope of a cunning bass waiting to ambush its next meal.

With the amount of water this bream moved when smashing the lure I thought he’d caught his first bass. Anglers chasing bass at this time of year must be mindful that these fish are making their way to the brackish water to breed and should be handled with extreme care and released to maintain healthy native fish stocks.


Beach and rock fishing at the time of writing has been a dangerous prospect with big seas and unpredictable weather making fishing difficult. With the weather clearing it should be firing soon with gutters re-forming on the beaches and good rock fishing platforms becoming accessible.

Tailor, bream, drummer and mulloway will all be on offer. At the time of writing I still haven’t had any drummer sessions but will be out in coming weeks. The luderick brigade have been doing well and good tides should see them filling their bags on cool Winter afternoons.

Off shore action has been good with the Cod Grounds off Laurieton and Grants Head producing some beautiful bar cod. The boys from Port Macquarie Tackle had an outing with Peter Leonard, the local Daiwa rep, recently testing out the new Saltiga range of reels. By all accounts they had a great time tangling with a variety of bottom-dwellers.

The action will continue this month with snapper being the No1 fish, although mixed bags will be very common and some good feeds on offer.


I had a mishap on the water recently and news of my misfortune has spread like the black plague! I’ll set the record straight once and for all because it’s worth discussing.

I was spinning for bream on my own one Sunday morning when I stopped to talk to a mate fishing the same area. I pulled up and stopped the electric, then accidentally bumped the constant motion button and the boat went one way and I the other – into the drink.

Sure it’s funny and I had a good laugh myself. A few days later I walked into Port Tackle and was told exactly where the diving gear was!

All laughs aside, though, this is a serious matter. Apart from wrecking my mobile phone and my pride taking a battering, I didn’t get hurt but it could have been very different. If I’d hit my head on the boat or on something in the water I could have been in trouble.

The fact is I should have had on my PFD. In Tasmania it is compulsory to wear a PFD in any boat under six metres while it is under power. Similar laws are being discussed for Victorian boaters, so it might be time we started thinking the same way as I’m sure NSW will follow suit if the laws are adopted in Victoria.

When fishing ABT Tournaments it is compulsory to wear a PFD when the boat is planing. With the small, comfortable self-inflating vests available, tournament anglers are tending to wear them all the time. I’ll be transferring this approach to my social fishing, especially when fishing on my own and I hope others would consider doing the same. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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