Now stay focused!
  |  First Published: December 2003

DECK A HAUL of good sized dollies fa lalalala lalalala… OK, it mightn’t be poetry but you have to get into the Christmas mood sooner or later!

There is little doubt that December is a good month to expect the return of the vast schools of small to medium sized mahi mahi (dolphin fish) and kings. It’s also a time of warmer weather, excessive eating and over-indulgence of the brown bubbly. Those who can stay focused rate a good chance offshore at a bit of fun and a good feed.

Even back in October some big bull mahi mahi were appearing off Forster, along with the odd 100kg striped marlin. There are still some reds lingering around the reefs off Blackhead, while flathead, a few trag and mixed reef fish are the norm. With the expected north-easterly winds this time of year, and the heat, most anglers will be opting for early morning or late afternoon trips.

Flathead in the lake would have to be the pick of the hits as the school holidays descend again. I must be getting old, but didn’t we just have Christmas? The flatties have been thick and one notable session saw ‘Mullet’ land four fish in four casts. What’s so special? The fish weighed 1.5kg, 2.5kg, 4kg and a staggering 7kg. The session ended with around 20 fish being caught over various sand and mud flats around the lake. I’d have been happy with the four-cast session!

The sand and weed patches around The Paddocks, The Cut and the mouth of the Wallamba River are prime at this time of the year and plenty of legal to 50cm fish can be found up the rivers. With little rain there is still only a trickle of coastal bream into the lake and snagging a few on the flathead lures is a bonus. Talking of bream, they have made their way throughout the system now, with plenty being caught up in the brackish, upper tidal areas and even in the fresh water of the rivers.

The spawning schools of blackfish have dispersed and settled in and around the structures of the lake – posts, oyster leases, weed, snags and reefs. The fish are a bit easier to catch than they have been and late afternoons over the weed beds with unweighted yabbies is a great way to knock off a few.

The trumpeter whiting have been around in good numbers, much to the delight of the dedicated brigades who chase them. Worms, yabbies and peeled prawns are the norm and the eastern end of Cockatoo Island seems to be a top spot if you have the inclination.


I must admit to being a Homer Simpson when it comes to blue swimmers and mud crabs. I love the sweet meat of swimmers and now is the time to put out the witches’ hats. I reckon the best bait frames for the nets is blackfish – the crabs won’t leave it alone. Areas around weeds, like the western side of Wallis and Regatta islands, are good but the fact is the crabs are distributed right through the system. Remember, there is a restricted zone that can be clarified at Great Lakes Tackle or Fisheries in Palm St Tuncurry.

Anyone wanting to chase jew on lures should have a few casts from the sea wall late in the afternoon as the tide bottoms out. Big Storm Wild Eye lures and Squidgies on 1/2oz jigs are the go. The channel in front of the Tuncurry Co-op is also worth a chance as the tide slows. Drifting the area with squid and livies may shorten the odds but is nowhere near as much fun as chucking lures.

The bass fishing just goes from strength to strength. A weekend on our favourite hole produced 19 fish from 32cm to 50cmfork length. They were taken on a variety of surface lures and spinnerbaits and I pulled the hooks on a fish that boofed the surface lure like a barra, took off like a 10lb brown trout and slugged it out like a size Murray cod.

I caught only a glimpse of the fish just before the big Jitterbug flew past my ear. It was big and you could imagine the language when it spat the lure. It reminds me of the conundrum: If an angler is alone on the riverbank with no one to hear him, did he really swear? My *$&#* oath I did! I’ll be back up there soon and with daylight saving in gear, it’s just matter of getting motivated to get out and enjoy all the Great Lakes area has to offer.

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