This time of year is an angler’s dream. The warm current licks the coast and with it comes a bounty of game angling including marlin, cobia, and tuna.
The schools of slimy mackerel that seemed so thick during the early season have been thinned out by the marauding bonito, tailor and schooling predators but they in turn have encouraged even larger predators.
The garfish that have turned up along the rock washes will soon have patrols of longtail tuna on the inshore reefs and rocky fringes just before Easter.
There are always schools of chopper tailor hunting the washes and enough to entertain both bait and spin anglers.
The rocks are also offering some big pigs and groper, with some over 3kg coming from the Blackhead rocks late last month, in spite of the crowds and spearfishos searching the broken rocky areas.
Be prepared to lose baits to the hordes of toads and butterfish that seem to be on your offering almost before it hits the water. A lightly heavier sinker will get the bait down quicker and distract the otherwise ravenous rubbish fish.
The warm weather through Summer has encouraged the growth of plenty of butter prawns in the lake and its tributaries.
With the prawns come an increase in angling opportunities, from bait fishing in the deep channels to casting lures over the snags and oyster racks.
The surface bite from bream and whiting has been good this season, with all-day sessions commonly experienced.
Lures like the Lucky Craft Sammy 65, Bassday Sugapen and the cheaper SureCatch 50mm poppers are well worth throwing over the weed flats, snags and, if you are really game, over the racks.
Overcast days with a slight ruffling breeze are the best and in the tributaries, some run in the tide is also of benefit.
There have been some reports of big bream on baits like prawns, yabbies and chicken breast around the oyster racks up from the bridge in the late afternoons and into the evenings.
There are also heaps of legal-sized flathead (36cm) that will come as welcome by-catch.
The flathead have been plentiful when the water is warm, though the odd cold snap and plunge in the lake’s water temperature has had the fish catch lockjaw occasionally, but generally the fishing has been good.
Soft plastics are perhaps the most effective way to rustle up a feed of flatties and any curly-tailed grub plastic in fluoro or pumpkinseed colour is a good start. A 1/4oz jig head is sufficient to get the lure to the bottom where the flathead hide.
The edges of the tributary mouths like the Coolongolook and Wang Waulk rivers should produce bream and flathead with a bit of effort.
Remember, there are still some late-spawning large female flathead in the lower end of the lake and channels so releasing and good handling practice are essential for future stocks.
The best eating size flatties are those from 40cm to 50cm and they are no trouble to target and catch.
There are plenty of big whiting in the lake and yabbies are the prime bait to tempt these great table fish. Drifting the front of Godwin Island and the bridge end of the Tuncurry Channel will produce the whiting and plenty of undersized bream so some perseverance is required.
Many of the whiting are around 42cm, which makes them worth the effort. Whiting on poppers are also worth a try and this is perhaps the most exciting way to catch them, though their numbers will be considerably fewer due to the lower hook-up rate.
The beaches have once again been patchy, with a lack of decent formations in the surf line causing the fish to roam.
Whiting and bream are the main species worms and yabbies (yes, yabbies off the beach work a treat).
Dart can become a nuisance at times but they are great fun if you have the kids with you.
Late afternoon and mornings obviously are best for the tailor and odd salmon with school jew prowling the surf during the evening.
Look at Seven Mile Beach and Janies Corner and if you intend to access the beaches in a 4WD, remember you do require a permit to be there.
There have been reports of bream and blackfish along the breakwalls and when the seas allow, the ends of the walls can fish well for an assortment of species and allow the angler to spin the outgoing tide when tailor and salmon hunt in the flow.
All in all, there should be plenty of prospects for anglers willing to get out and have a look around at the conditions and decide what they want to catch.Reads: 969