THE WARMING water is a good sign for the coming season. A few degrees here and there are enough to stimulate a growth explosion in the butter prawn populations up the rivers. This attracts the predatory fish, and by the end of Summer they will have filled every ambush position available up the rivers.
Right through Winter the stocks of baitfish have been unusually high and this has enhanced the quality of the early morning catches around the bridge and lower lake. Big tailor are hunting the pre-dawn in the deep channel on the Tuncurry side, and also the leases up from the bridge. Kilogram fish are not uncommon, and along with the tailor a few silver trevally have moved in to share the leased space. Save the soft plastics and throw a small metal slice or hard-body minnow at the tailor in the channel or a slow-rolled garfish and flesh bait.
The breakwall is the obvious passage along which the tailor make their way into the lake and channel. Pike also hang in numbers around the schools of bait. The walls have been the scene of a few good jewfish catches on soft plastics, with one young bloke using gold fleck 8”Slug-Go for some respectable fish. Lloyd Campbell told me that the young fellow uses the Slug-Go to imitate the pike that stream back and forward along the wall.
Drifting yabbies along the wall late in the afternoon or the evening during the run-out will produce some good bream; at this time of day they lose a bit of their spooky nature brought on by the ultra-clear water. Unless we get inches of rain by the time you read this, the high tide water will remain superbly clear and clean – but trying to entice fish on lures in these conditions is difficult, and baitfishing requires long casts and heaps of berley. The alternative, apart from low light periods, is to head up the back of the lake or one of the rivers.
Chasing the dirty water up the system with the incoming tide can be the key to good catches of bream on lures. The river sections of the lower estuary generally hold suspended sediment, which gives you an element of stealth and masks the leader material, making lure fishing easier.
One species that isn’t as tentative in the clear water is the flathead, and plenty of legal fish are out and about at this time of year. In the next few months the larger females will make their way to the lower section of the estuary where the smaller males to a kilo or so will join them. In the clear water over the sand flats, one of the best lures I have found for the flathead is a 1/4oz 2/0-3/0 hook jighead with a 3” chartreuse Twister double tail.
Blackfish are on the go and weed is generally available form the tackle stores like Great Lakes Tackle in Tuncurry. The leases up from the bridge have been getting some attention from the older ‘fishermen, and while they haven’t seen too many bag limits there have been a lot of quality fish in the keeper nets. There are plenty of big luderick in the lake and some big schools can be seen pushing up under the bridge at the top of the tide.
The advantage of the clear water is that it makes you aware of the many big sand whiting sifting the sands around the bridge, channel drop-offs and sand islands. Yabbies and worm baits on light leaders, down to 2lb, are needed to fool the bigger fish, but the coming Summer is looking good.
There have been some great catches on reefs around Blackhead and off Seven Mile Beach. Snapper to 2.5kg, a few pearl perch and other associated reef pickings are available. Trevally are around in numbers and a berley trail works wonders when the current allows. Tailor around the headlands and washes are getting some size to them, with fish of 1.5kg being reported. Rat kings are mixed in with the tailor and the seas have been kind enough to get out offshore, so enjoy it.
The bass have been slow to start this season due to the lack of rain and the prompting they needed to move through Sutumn. The lack of rain also means the river levels are down and the water is crystal clear. The clear water and slow run in the river allows deeper light penetration and has promoted weed growth, which can hamper fishing. The Wallamba has a few bass under the weir so if you catch them consider helping them back over the structure into the freshwater.
I was alerted during the week to a particular clause and map in the Draft Wallis Lake Estuary Management Plan. W.3.3. The management objective is to “minimize the occurrence and impact of point source chemical pollutant inputs to the estuary”. Action No:W.3.3 states “Consider excluding vessels with 2-stroke and diesel motors from sensitive aquatic habitat areas of the estuary, and communicate this through the Wallis Lake recreation/boating management strategy. The sensitive areas include waters bounded by the bridge to the Cut, North-west corner of Wallis Island, Pipers Bay. Other areas include South End of Wallis Island, including Yahoo Island. Boundaries of Shallow Bay, Regatta Island and parts of Bandicoot Island as well as sections of the Wallamba River and The Palms area.”
While I applaud the initiative of the Great Lake Council, feedback from the lake’s users is critical so make yourself aware of the contents of the proposal and draft management. There’s no point whinging after the event if we don’t express our concerns before decisions. There are some good thoughts in the paper.
With school holidays here again, I’ll end this report with a word of warning. We have a great team of dedicated enforcers keeping a close watch on our beautiful waterway, so make sure you know all the waterways and Fisheries regulations and enjoy the holidays safely.
1. Daniel and Joel caught these 600g and 750g bream from under the Forster Marina wharf while drifting unweighted prawns along the shadow line of the timber and boats.
2. Good pigs are still around. This 2.5kg fish was taken from the rocks at Blackhead on bread bait.
3. Dave Scarlett with a 2.2kg pig from Crowdy Head. It’s a bit out of my area, but any of the washes along the coast are fishing well.Reads: 638