Estuaries hit their straps
  |  First Published: November 2005

The water is warming, the sun has some long-awaited strength, the days are getting longer and daylight saving has already kicked into gear. Sounds like plenty of good reasons to get out and pester a few fish.

Estuaries up and down the coast should be firing with a host of species on offer.

November is possibly the best month to get into some big, bruising oyster-rack bream.

Clyde River oyster farmers have been commenting on the numbers and size of the bream already. When they are saying it’s the best run they have seen for a long time you know it’s worth checking out. I reckon the late Winter rains have probably got a lot to do with it.

Surface breaming really does it for me and I can’t wait to get into ’em over the next few weeks. I can easily spend a whole session popping plastics over racks, around shallow rocks and adjacent to timber without ever tying on a sub-surface lure.

For me one big surface-striking bream is equal to at least five hooked down below.

Flathead, too, have really hit their straps of late and will be found in the shallower sections of any estuary with increasing regularity. Fish to 4.5kg have been talked about lately.

It makes me worry, though, when you hear of big flathead and specific weights mentioned in the same breath as this generally means one more breeder has been removed from the system. Take a camera along, snap a few pics and stretch the measuring tape over the fish rather than weighing the corpse at the local tackle shop.

You’ll be surprised how good it feels to put the big one back to fight another day.

I reckon dusky flathead are overrated in the culinary stakes, although many readers will undoubtedly disagree.

Whiting, on the other hand, sure take some topping. Last season I dabbled a bit with fishing freshly-caught beach worms rigged on light Squidgy Finesse jig heads and using them like soft plastics on the flats. It was a fun and unique way to catch a feed and the regular by-catch of huge bully mullet really kept you on your toes.

There are a few creek flats that will be receiving some of this kind of attention very soon.


Yellowfin tuna continue to thrill the anglers fishing out on the deep blue. I certainly wouldn’t claim that they are back from the brink of disaster but it has been most encouraging to hear regular reports of successful crews across Winter and Spring.

Fish between 20kg and 40kg have been reasonably common. Early sightings of striped marlin also point towards a bumper pelagic season.

The current began its north/south push at the end of September, which is very early for this far down the coast, sparking a 2° to 3° water temp increase. If this trend continues we can expect an early arrival of the traditional fast Summer fish.

Big schools of slimy mackerel and pike, as well as some huge schools of salmon, have been rippling the surface with albatross and other sea birds taking full advantage of the bait.

Snapper have come on again with gusto (although they didn’t really slow down much anyway) with the plastic boys averaging 15 fish to 5.2kg a session.

The Batemans Bay Soldiers Fishing Club season finished in a big way with snapper guru Grant Glenn sealing the biggest snapper for the season on the final day of the year. He already held the biggest with a red of over 7kg but brought in a 9.9kg thumper to blow the crowd of hopefuls away.

To most of us this would represent the fish of a lifetime but for Grant it’s just another good fish. His best is just short of a whopping 14.5kg!

On a sourer note, the 15kg jewie I lost off the rocks recently still has me cranky each time I think about it. Two twitches of a 5” glow in the dark Jerk Shad was all it took to entice the strike and the 4000 reel was all but empty of 7kg Fireline in a blink of an eye.

Ten minutes later the exhausted fish lay beaten just metres from the gaff but one lousy headshake dislodged the hook and it slowly sank from view with barely a kick. On inspection of the 9g resin head the hook was straightened out to 90 degrees. Bugger!

Oh well, if we caught ’em all we’d call it ‘catching’, not ‘fishing’.

Nathan Forrest and Brett O‚Connor, centre, have been getting stuck into plenty of yellowfin lately. These fish weighed 42kg, 39.6kg and 27kg. Expect the yellowfin run to continue throughout November.

Weighmaster Roy Willis records the cleaned weight of Grant Glenn’s snapper at the BBSFC final comp for the season. Note the reading on the scales 8.915kg.

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