Warm-water action starts
  |  First Published: December 2004

The warm-water action has started, with the river, beaches, headlands and offshore grounds all firing up local fishos.

Offshore anglers have moved from chasing snapper in shallow water on soft plastics in Shark Bay and the recognised bait grounds to surface action on schools of early-season spotted mackerel and tuna. There’s good light-tackle excitement with these.

The most successful method for these fish has been to cast small chrome lures to the edges of the schools and retrieve at a medium to high speed. Some fishos have been using soft lures and chrome lures down deep in a jig-and-retrieve action with quite high success on the mackerel.

With all the signs of bait and the pelagic fish starting to show in good numbers early this year, we are hoping for a good season in Shark Bay.

The Iluka Bluff has produced some big trevally again this year with the average fish around 3kg to 4kg. Those who are geared up for big fish can extract tackle-busting GTs over 8kg. These fish can be spotted holding in schools around The Bluff if you take the time to walk to the lookout at the top of the hill.

On the south side, big blue groper are creating some tall tales, with more experienced groper fishos landing fish up to 9kg. Crabs are the gun bait and only those with nerves of steel can collect these crabs bare-handed from under the rock ledges.

On the beaches, whiting and jew are the main targets. Shark Bay has had the best of the whiting, with the northern end of the beach firing when the northerly wind is blowing. Shark Bay is 16km long so pick your spot carefully and don’t be afraid to move.

After dark, quality summer bream and school jew are feeding. Most of the bream are by-catch for the jewie fishos but they can be successfully targeted with flesh baits. Those wishing to catch a school jew will find quality live beach worms a must, with fresh squid a close second. This time of year the hot spots are usually the northern end of Shark Bay and Iluka Main Beach.

The river is vastly improved with large trevally, giant herring, mangrove jacks, big flathead, sand whiting and sand crabs all becoming increasingly active with the rising water temperature.

The trevally are showing in reasonable numbers at Yamba boat harbour, the tavern, Oyster Channel bridge, the barges, Maclean and behind the prawn pocket nets.

The giant herring are difficult to find at times but if you do you run across them, you will certainly have a fishing trip to remember. I am still working out the habits of these fish and hope to be able to give move information in a month or two.

The elusive mangrove jack has made an appearance with several fishos tangling with jacks while tossing lures for bream and trevally. Unfortunately, the jacks are winning, with the score 12-3 to my knowledge. Best spots have been the Yamba trawler harbour, Oyster Channel and the Esk River.

If jigging big flathead in deep water on soft plastic lures or bobbing live herring is your cup of tea, the walls in the lower reaches of the river are where the action is. So far nothing over the magic metre mark has been caught but it is only a matter of time, with several 90cm-plus fish taken so far this season.

The sand whiting have been slow to show this year but over the last moon changed, with some good bags caught. The big fish are still to show but with the average fish going between 300g and 400g you can still catch a good feed. Best times to chase the big fish are on the run-out tide on the new (dark) moon.

The sand crabs have started showing in small numbers with most fishos reporting catches of five to 10 crabs on a good trip.


1) Offshore anglers are currently enjoying surface action on schools of early-season tuna and spotted mackerel.

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