Plenty of takers
  |  First Published: November 2003

WATER TEMPERATURES will be on the increase in the ocean, rivers and coastal streams this month.

Already giant and bigeye trevally and mangrove jack are becoming regulars with plenty of these fish already well into the upper reaches. They are increasingly succumbing to soft plastics but don’t underestimate the effectiveness of big lures.

Poppers, fizzers, and shallow- and deep-diving bibbed lures have taken big numbers of these fish for me over the years. The Australian-made Killalures, RMGs, Lively Lures Mad Mullet and Halcos, to name a few, are all great. Look for species that often cohabit the same locations as jacks, such as the trevallies. Most of the productive locations I have fished have also produced trevally and, sooner or later, a jack will throw caution to the wind.

If you want to see these great fish continue in good numbers, releasing all jacks will ensure productive future fishing. I have already seen once-productive locations become devoid of these fish simply because anglers kept their catch.

One of the better areas to fish for flathead and whiting this month will be from Letitia Spit up-river to Barneys Point bridge and into the Terranora Inlet to Boyds Bay bridge. This forms part of the recreational fishing area, free from commercial fishing. During the early run of whiting and flathead this area can hold significant numbers of fish. Baits such as worms or whitebait can be very productive, as can soft plastics or small shallow-diving lures.

If you have a boat and are unsure where to start, drift along the lee shoreline. Plenty of fish often can be located this way. There are plenty of banks where you can pump fresh bait and these can be good places to start fishing.

Farther upstream, places like the old piggery flats, the area behind Black Watch boats and the big broadwaters behind Seagulls and the airport have enormous areas in which to fish.

The Brunswick River should also fire in all arms. With a little stealth and a keen eye, you can catch some big whiting in the quieter areas. The rock walls and oyster racks hold plenty of big bream, while the boat harbour is famous for it’s ‘chip’ lures. A small timber surface lure works wonders here on the bream, courtesy of the fish shop patrons.

Some good trevally work the walls from time to time, as does the occasional big mangrove jack. Farther up any of the arms is great for tarpon, bream, flathead and crabs.

Offshore, large breeding cobia will appear on the inshore reefs. The Brumbies, to the north-east, Fidos, Little Wommin and the Chincogan reef complex at Kingscliff are all worthwhile areas. Kingfish have appeared already around Cook Island on big poppers and jigs in the washes. The back of the Nine Mile is also worth towing or drifting a bait along the eastern and southern drop-offs.

Farther south, reef such as Black Rock, Windarra Bank and the many smaller inshore patches continue to produce excellent fishing compared with the Tweed reefs, with excellent snapper, jewfish and parrotfish and often larger pelagics.

Access to these locations can be difficult. Smaller craft can use the many creeks along the coast in ideal conditions but seek local knowledge of the dangers. Brunswick Heads also has access to many top locations but that bar can be treacherous. Watch the weather patterns and reports and keep an eye on the swell. If you can’t get outside, you can always have fun in the creeks.


I recently reported on the vandalism and taking of large numbers of bass from the pools below the Clarrie Hall Dam spillway. The local council acted quickly by installing gates that are locked at night.

The water flowing over the spillway stopped at the beginning of October and the pools below were soon starved of oxygen. Australian Bass Association members arrived the following day to see around 300 dead or dying fish. With a NSW Fisheries permit they were able to catch another 800 fish, which were liberated into the dam. The efforts of council workers at the dam were outstanding and in a short time they installed a siphon to continue flow into the bass-laden pools below.

This month the water will start to warm and we can look forward to the start of the cicada invasion. Bass love cicadas and nothing gets them spilling out of the trees quicker than the strong northerly winds which we associate with November.

This is the beginning of the surface-fishing season so anywhere that has good weed growth and timber should be a prime location. There are many types of lures that work well there, especially fizzers and poppers. The key to success is to cast to likely-looking cover, mostly around the edges, and use a slow retrieve with short jerks of the rod tip, followed by pauses. If a bass misses, as they often do, a repeat cast to the same spot may be rewarded with a hook-up.

I cannot emphasise the importance of a slow retrieve. If I spot a fish rise and I can get a cast to where it has been, I will move the rod tip only enough to create a little movement, keeping the lure in the strike zone longer. If the fish is close by it won’t take much to get it to strike.

The best times to fish the surface are early and late in the day but the dam has days when the fish have been on the surface almost all the time. I always have a rod rigged for the surface, just in case.

The other area that has provided a lot of fun has been the top end, where there is a great deal of tangled weed. A weedless-rigged soft plastic is dynamite where no other lure can be cast – into clearings among the weed. Often quality bass lurk in the openings and the bait is silhouetted against sky and the hook-ups are dynamite. Getting them out is a different matter, depending on how far back into the weed you cast. Go as hard as you possibly can until they come out or are caught up in the weed, in which case I go in after them.

Other lures that will produce fish this month are spinnerbaits and Beetle Spins. I have found that a spinnerbait slowly rolled from the bank so that it drops into deeper water produces the best results. The small Beetle Spins are great: You can change the size of the jig and tail to suit the depth or descent rate. Fished around the edges of heavy weed, they are the best method for this time of year, especially in the middle of the day.

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