A good time to plan
  |  First Published: September 2005

September is usually a pretty dead month down this way. Past history shows that it’s a bit early for the water to warm up and for some species to make a show but now is a good time to plan for the next few months.

Yes, it’s time to do a bit of tackle maintenance and get the boat in working order. It’s also time to put some thought into what you’ll be chasing over the next few months and formulate a plan of attack.

That means reading as many fishing magazines as you can, browsing the internet and playing with fishing tackle every spare minute of the day !


Over the next few months the rivers and estuaries will start to produce some solid flathead as they begin to breed. Fish to 90cm are fairly common and those big lizards will be about in numbers until around Christmas. You’ll still get the odd large fish until around March and even April but October, November and December are the prime months for that big croc.

Also on the cards as Spring warms up will be jewies and blackfish. Further up the Shoalhaven River, the bass will start to get into gear as the days get longer and warmer. There should be something in all of that for everyone from sportfishermen using lures right through to pensioners looking for a feed of blackfish.

You can start by sorting out your box of soft plastics and cleaning it up. Go through the heads and toss out any old rusty ones along with any tails that are looking a bit shabby or chewed up. Buy a few new ones and keep them sorted by colour and size.

For flathead in Spring I like to fish lures around 80mm to 130mm. Some of my favourites are the Squidgy Fish range in gold and silver colours.

Check that you’ve got some 6kg or 8kg fluorocarbon for leaders and check the line on your reel. You should be running 4lb to 8lb gelspun with a metre of leader joined with a double uni knot.

If the main line is looking a bit furry you can reverse the entire length and get another season out of it.

While you’re at it, put a few drops of oil on the reel to keep it running smoothly, especially the bail roller, handle and main shaft under the spool. If it needs a service then pull it apart or take it to the local tackle shop.

If you’re a bass angler, get out the old kayak, give it a scrub and clean the spiders out. Check your roof racks and make sure the straps are OK and ready to go when you decide to have a fish.

Check your lures and replace any old or rusty and bent hooks. If you plan on fishing into the evening then check the batteries in your torches or head lamp.


The local beaches might be producing the odd jewie right now if the conditions are right.

Most of the local beach jew are taken from March to June but we do get a brief shot at them again in September and October most years. Fresh bait and fishing a run-up tide in a deep gutter is the go and if the conditions are dead calm, even better.

It can be difficult catching fresh bait from the beaches now so you’ll probably have to get that at another location and take it with you. Big yakka fillets work well but so do squid heads and even small squid. Make sure it’s fresh and be prepared to put some time in and get cold. It is worthwhile when you land that big bronze jewie from a beach.

Start by checking out a few beaches and looking for gutters and formations. Keep these in mind so you know where to go when you decide to fish for a jew.

Get out and find some bait. It may be squid from the local wharf or yakkas and slimy mackerel from a bait ground but get some ready or at least know where you can catch some when you need to.

Again, check all tackle, torches and tie up a few new traces with sharp hooks and start studying the tide chart for run-up tides in the evening.


The rocks will also start to fire in the next month so now is the time to get serious about drummer and blackfish as the water starts to warm.

September and October are very good months for drummer so get that cunje and abalone gut out and get down to the local bakery for some bread berley.

October and November will see blackfish start to move in close to the rocks and be up on top under scum lines.

It will also be worth doing a bit of lure fishing for salmon, bonito and rat kings and there’ll probably be a few reds around for those who care to fish a bottom bait over some gravel or floaters in the washes.

Give all your rock rods a clean-up and check the runners for damage. Climbing and walking into locations is hard on rods so now’s the time to give them the once-over and replace any bent or damaged guides.

Make sure you’ve got some floats or bobby corks for blackfish and some trace material. If you use a keeper net, check it for holes or wear and sharpen your knife.

Give your haversack the once over: Clean out any old crap and check the straps and zippers. You can even give it a wash in hot, soapy water and put a few drops of oil on the zippers.


The outside scene will be improving right now and there should be some nice reds about in close and out a little wider. You can drift around with bottom baits and catch a few fish but if you really want to get some nice snapper, find where some reef comes up on gravel and fish the edges by berleying and dropping down floating baits.

If you’re not sure where to fish or what to look for, try drifting with bottom baits and marking where you hook a few fish. Motor back and drop the anchor to fish the same location with berley and floaters. I like to fish handlines with floaters but a 6kg to 8kg threadline outfit will also do the job.

Out a little further there should be some yellowfin tuna starting to show in the next month or so. Last Spring there were some very nice fish about wide of Jervis Bay.

Anglers fishing the White Sands game fishing tournament accounted for fish to 80kg, most of which were taken on lures.

This Spring I reckon there’ll be an influx of boats fishing The Canyons with lures and cubing in search of that big ’fin.

There’s no doubt that the poor old yellowfin have copped a hiding over the past few decades from the commercial sector so it is good to see a few fish back around and being caught by amateurs. They really are a majestic fish and great fun on light and medium tackle.

With a boat and trailer to keep maintained along with a heap of tackle, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping busy at the moment. Boat and trailer maintenance can be costly and painful at times but make sure everything is working and safe before you tow a boat or head to sea.

If you are keen to get out chase a few yellowfin, get some lures in order. Skirted lures around 15cm to 20cm are good and get a few jet heads if you can – yellowfin love them.

Get some wind-on leaders sorted. Go for something around 70kg to 120kg mono and re-tie the doubles on your reels.

Sharpen your hooks. On yellowfin lures we normally run one single hook and file the barb way back so it is much smaller than the standard hook. This gives much better penetration and the smaller barb doesn’t come out or pull any more often than the big one.

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