IT’S NICE to look back on the good things that have happened over the past year.
The closing down of the Cockle Creek smelter, on the western side of Lake Macquarie, was a win for a cleaner lake and the general health of residents in the area. The smelter operated for over a 100 years, and in the last few years the owners spent a lot of money cleaning up their act. It was too little, too late.
Another pleasing trend I have noticed in our area is the number of boats on the lake and in the channel with whole families on board – Mum, Dad and the kids all trying their hand at fishing. More families are taking to the water for their recreation time and it’s a great way to go. Teaching the kids to fish early will give them a greater sense of value for the rest of their lives.
We are also seeing more anglers flicking lures rather than soaking baits. The great challenge is to entice the fish to bite on something that’s in the taste range of a lump of wood or an old car tube. But believe me, the hard lures and the soft plastics all work used in the right way and in the right place.
Another pleasing trend is catch and release. Every big breeder released equates to thousands of baby fish given the chance to survive. I have noticed that a lot more anglers and fishing clubs are adopting the catch-and-release format and this trend can only help to ensure the future of our fisheries.
This month should see the warmer currents moving closer to our beaches and warming up the channel and lake. Despite the often mean recent weather the fishing has been pretty good in Swansea Channel and the lake.
The offshore scene has not been so good with a lot of slime in the water and very few fish, but this month the pelagics should move in so hopefully things will improve.
The breakwalls, training walls and groynes from the mouth of Swansea Channel to the drop-over into the lake are good land-based options. Flathead, bream, flounder and tailor are likely catches from these areas and tossing squid jigs can be rewarding, particularly at night. A popular spot for squid jigging is from the entrance to Black Neds Bay to the Swansea bridge in front of the RSL Club.
Drifting the channel is always an interesting way to go for the boaties. Flathead and bream are the most likely catches drifting baits but for the spin buffs anything could eat that lure, from tailor to kingfish.
This month should see the usual influx of squid into the channel and lake and, when they arrive, so do kingfish and salmon. The kingies love hanging around the Swansea bridge so floating live squid or dropping heavy metal around the pylons should be the way to go. If nothing else is working, go after the squid – they keep well in the freezer for a later supply of bait and the rings done in egg and bread crumbs and lightly fried in a little oil are top tucker. Pink squid jigs work best in our area.
The prawn run is on and should get into full swing this month. The nights that coincide with the dark of the moon and a run-out tide are the ideal times to go prawning. The Great Outdoors publishes a small book called the Anglers Almanac. It gives the moon phases for every day of the month and predicts best fishing times. The book gives all the moon above and below times and, with a local tide chart, should give the best nights to chase a feed of prawns.
Blue swimmer crabs are about in the lake. These crabs are a real delicacy and well worth the effort. Witch’s-hat nets are a popular way to catch blue swimmers but I have converted all of mine to open-ring drop nets. The witch’s hat will certainly catch crabs but it’s a pain in the butt releasing the jennies in berry and the strands of the net do cause damage to the sacs of roe.
Only witches’ hats and open-ring drop nets are allowed in Lake Macquarie (five per person). No crab traps are permitted. If in doubt on any regulations. check with local Fisheries officers.
Emma Tweedie, 9, saved up her pocket money and bought her own rod and reel so she could go fishing in the boat with Dad. Emma caught this 50cm flathead drifting Swansea Channel on her very first outing.
A mess of squid caught in Swansea Channel. Just the right size for bait and beautiful tucker – what a choice!.
Three blue swimmers and a bonus muddy cooked and ready for the table. They were caught in Lake Macquarie using open-ring drop nets.Reads: 1732