The mid-Winter cold has caught up with us and the water temperature has naturally taken a dive.
These conditions put a dampener on the fishing to some degree but all is not lost: The rewards are still there for hard-working anglers. Swansea Channel and Lake Macquarie are still fishing well but if bagging out on every outing is your thing, forget it. The groynes along the Swansea Channel from Lucys Wall to the aerodrome are coming up with some nice luderick, but not in the numbers we expect for this time of year. Good, fresh green weed and a lot of know-how will still produce the goods.
A lot of boat anglers are still drifting the channel with mixed results, picking up the odd bream and flathead. Anglers fishing early mornings and late afternoons have been bagging some quality bream from Salts Bay and along the drop-over into Lake Macquarie. The fish have not been in large numbers but this month should see some improvement, especially toward the end of the month.
Those fishing for bream from the northern breakwall of the Swansea Channel have been hooking up on some nice-sized jewies at time of writing. I see no reason why those jew should not stay around this month and into Spring.
Recently my old sounder decided it had passed its use-by date and died. What I thought to be a sad day turned out for the better. Being of the old school, I’m always a bit sceptical of electronic gadgets. The old sounder told me how deep the water was, the surface temp and the odd fish signal when it felt like it. To tell the truth, I never really believed the thing and when the boat speed reached about 10kmh the whole screen turned to scrambled eggs.
The search was on for a replacement, for these days it’s something you must have in your boat. After checking the range of sounders with most of the dealers in my area, I was finally offered a deal I could not resist on a Lowrance X71. Fitting the unit was the next challenge but after I followed the instructions to the letter, it worked. The position of the transducer on the transom, and the routing of the transducer cable to the unit away from the electrical wiring of the boat, are most important.
After a couple of dry runs on the simulator it was out to Belmont Bay for the real trial. I ran the boat up to 40kmh and the sounder still produced a clear picture without a flicker, so I figure I got the fitting right. For the exercise I set the sounder on auto, fish ID and track, with a high sensitivity. The settings gave a clear picture of the bottom features and I had no problem locating a sunken barge in 30 feet of water. The structure of the barge showed up clearly with larger fish holding near the bottom, and a clutter of small fish signals showing at about 10 feet. The small fish signals turned out to be a school of chopper tailor around 25cm.
The down side, was I couldn’t get a bait to the bottom: The little suckers were slamming whole pillies on 4/0 ganged hooks as fast as I could drop them over. The good side was the sounder was giving out the right information. It’s hard to admit but, armed with my new toy, I have become a believer. The Lowrance X71 is packed with features that should suit most boat anglers who want to spend less than $700. My next few outings will be spent learning to use the many features available on this excellent unit.
Plenty of activity on the northern break wall of Swansea Channel. Bream anglers have been hooking the odd jewie from the ocean side of the wall.
Rocket Thomson with a handful of nice bream from Salts Bay..
The mid-priced Lowrance X71’s many features make this unit excellent value, according to the author.Reads: 1916