Keep your options open
  |  First Published: September 2003

THIS IS usually a funny time of year – the warm-water fish haven’t quite made it here and the cool-water fish decide to shut up shop and follow the currents south.

It’s the time of year when many of the older style of anglers decide to sit around home and have their yearly gear clean-up and stock-take.

Having said that, there still should be a few fish around. The best thing this time of year is to wait and see what turns up and what hangs around. The idea is to not really plan a trip until you know exactly what’s likely to turn up. Just go out and be prepared for whatever might be there.

Good tailor and salmon should still be hanging around in the washes close in along the rocks. A trolled lure is usually the easiest way to locate a school if there’s no surface action or birds diving.

Just about anything will work but small pink squids or Rapala CDs are the best. Trail them through the washes until you get a strike and then cast to that area with chrome slices or flies.

Tailor and salmon can also be targeted from headlands by casting lightly-weighted pilchards rigged with ganged hooks. Dawn and dusk are definitely the best times.

But if you get to your chosen spot and the tailor and salmon just don’t co-operate, you might have to change tactics, drop hook size and fish for bream or drummer, or maybe even blackfish. All are great fish to catch and fantastic for the table, too.

If you keep your options open there should be something that will co-operate.


The estuary is still rather cool but it’s starting to warm up and any day now the flathead should come on in a big way – probably more towards the end of the month, but it all depends on the weather.

If we get some nice early hot Spring days, the flathead will go crazy. But if the cool weather hangs around a bit longer, those lizards will remain lethargic and not very eager to bite.

Bream should be haunting the estuary and I’ve had some of the best days imaginable catching bream in September on Port Stephens. But some years are good and some years are just downright lousy.

The bream population in Port Stephens is highly governed by rainfall. And it’s pretty technical, too. I’ve found if you get a long period of rain the fishing will go quiet for a few days, if not weeks, but when it comes back on it really fires. And if we get a short period of rain as soon as is begins to clear and the barometer starts to rise, then the bream will be out in full force. Having said that, there are so many other variables in an estuarine system and my model works only some of the time. Things like wind direction, tides, where most of the rainfall landed in the catchment, water temperature, water colour, even down to things like jelly blubber in the water, I have found at one stage or another to contribute to bream behavior throughout our ever-changing system.

For all you guys who are hanging on for grim death waiting for a shot at some of the Summer species, you may as well break the drought and flick a few prawns or pillies, or even float some green weed into a wash somewhere. That’s where I’m going now!

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