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Hastings mulloway madness
  |  First Published: August 2009



After a cool, wet Winter some nice Spring weather will be a welcome change. Hopefully Mother Nature will bring some splendid fishing to complement the change of season.

Although conditions have been less than ideal, there has been some decent fishing to talk about.

The Hastings River has been mulloway-mad, with school fish filling the system and making their presence felt from the ends of the breakwalls to the Pacific Highway bridge.

Although they have been in numbers in the deep holes and drop-offs, at times they have been difficult to fool and light line and tackle have been the order of the day.

If the water is discoloured then heavy gear will snare them but in clear conditions it seems they are fussy and fidgety.

On one outing I was targeting them from my boat off the end of North Wall, where they would happily crunch a 6” sandworm rigged on 3lb leader.

After being broken off a few times, I increased the leader size to 8lb, then back to 6lb but I couldn’t raise a bite. Once I went back to 3lb, they were on again.

All fish were 55cm to 65cm, not huge fish in the realms of mulloway but a hell of a lot of fun on light gear. They are also a tasty treat so a few ended up as a feed at home.

RIVER BREAM

Also on the ends of the walls have been decent bream, which are making their return to the river after their Winter run.

These bream have been good quality fish and in a few months of grazing in the river they should fatten up nicely.

This month I expect some quality fish to be caught on the flats around the Maria River and in Limeburners Creek.

Flathead have been about, but not as prolific as they can be. Recent freshes have killed a lot of the wed beds and I suppose this has given the flatties less cover to hunt across the warmer flats water over Winter.

I’m hoping the weed beds will bounce back, bait fish will flourish in the new weed and the flathead will start hunting to fill their greedy bellies.

If you’re bait fishing for flathead this month, you’ll be hard pressed to go past a live poddy mullet although slab baits drifted on the flats will also prove viable.

If you’re throwing lures then any plastic from 3” to 6” will prove deadly. Colour selection will not be critical, as they’ll be on the chew.

The key rule for selecting flathead plastics this month will be visibility.

If the water is clear then use pink or white; if it’s dark then greens, browns and purples will work.

Bounce the lure along the bottom and give the odd erratic movement and you’ll be on the money as the feisty flathead think your plastic is an injured baitfish.

REEFS DISAPPOINT

Offshore action has been a little disappointing this season compared with the past few years. The only reasons I can put this down to are the cool water and the unbelievable amount of fresh water pouring out of our rivers.

But some decent fish have been caught and most offshore outings have yielded a mixed feed of snapper, pearl perch and morwong.

Flathead and red rock cod have been in good numbers straight out from the bar.

Now I’ve never taken home a red rock cod as they’ve always been known as mother-in-law fish but my mate Burkey loves them.

The other night he came around and cooked me a lovely red rock cod and prawn laksa. I was dubious at first but the dish was excellent and I totally enjoyed it.

Burkey adapted one of Jamie Oliver’s recipes that originally called for scallops as the main meat of the dish. So I suppose if things are tough, a normal automatic ‘throwback’ fish can make a tasty dish.

Leatherjackets, which also make a nice feed, have been very quiet so let’s just hope they don’t show up in huge numbers again.

BEACH PICKS

The beaches have been firing lately and this month should be no different, with quality bream and mulloway the primary targets.

And Australian salmon also testing anglers’ patience and gear while fishing light for bream. Best spots have been between Lighthouse Beach and Lake Cathie.

Also worth a try this month will be Dunbogan Beach, which should have some nice tailor as well as bream, salmon and mulloway. Beach worms, pipis and slab baits will give you the greatest chance of catching fish.

Look for long gutters with wide entries. Start at one end and work your way along until you find feeding fish. Don’t spend too long in one spot, keep moving and find the right gutter with feeding fish.

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