Estuaries thaw out
  |  First Published: September 2009

The fishing has been pretty terrible lately with gale-force winds from every direction, especially the west, resulting in cold, lifeless, flat and clear water – great for diving for crayfish but not much else.

This month usually we see the water temperature begin to increase a little and the weather stabilise a bit, so hopefully the fish will respond in kind.

With the sun warming the shallow sections of the estuaries, the likes of flathead and whiting will increasingly begin prowling for food.

Places like Conjola, Durras and Tuross lakes are great spots to wade the flats and flick around a few soft plastics or shallow-diving lures. Poppers, too, are worth a try if you find a good patch of whiting foraging.

Monstrous flathead will often be encountered in less than a metre of water in search of a stray mullet or other baitfish that make a wrong move.

Flathead and whiting respond well to aggressively worked retrieves to trigger a response but be sure to incorporate plenty of pauses in the retrieve because this is when the hits will more likely occur.

A few school jewfish have been captured from the deeper sections of the Clyde River on blade lures but the successful anglers have been working their butts off to find them.

As always, locating bait schools on the sounder is a big key to finding jewies so keep on the move in barren water and work the area hard if the sounder is revealing a good-sized bait ball.

Bream action for lure casters will be still pretty slow until late in the month but if bait is your deal then a good, oily bait in conjunction with a berley trail should see some success early or late in the day.

Late in the month will be a good time to start working lures in around the oyster racks because some big specimens often return from the ocean around this time, usually with big appetites and a need to put some condition on after a long Winter.

In this situation shallow-diving hard lures are usually a good option to work over the tops of flooded racks, rather than plastics.


Some good snapper still show up on the inshore grounds at this time of year and they are often a decent size.

In years gone by I have scored a few from 5kg to 7kg in October off the rocks on bait, and by casting big soft plastics from the boat.

Ray Smith and Ben Roberts have been in the thick of the action with numerous snapper to 5kg falling to their plastics.

Shallow water, ridiculously light gear and big plastics has been the recipe for success for the boys.

Choosing really light line makes big casts easily achievable and provides a more natural sink rate without having to go to unnecessarily heavy jig heads.

You just need to have the patience to play out the fish without trying to force the fish to the boat. You will notice a big jump in success if you can pull it off.

Off the rocks, Dean Heycox has had a pretty good run of snapper, too, but he did suffer a nasty injury when running to his rod, which was emptying line to a good red. He stumbled and fell, breaking his index finger in three places.

In true form, he fished on in severe pain to land a bag of nine fish and decided to wait until the next day to visit the hospital. Some people just don’t know when to quit!

As the water temperature increases, so do squid numbers, which can trigger a hot bite on snapper, jewfish and even kingfish.

The occasional kingfish has been present lately and none better than Alan Hemsworth’s sensational 27kg leviathan that took a live slimy mackerel while Alan was chasing snapper on plastics with Tony Evans off Ulladulla.

I have always been a big fan of setting a live bait when chasing snapper because it needs little attention and, as Alan proved, can result in the fish of a lifetime.

Black drummer are another good option at the moment with fish to 3kg on offer and spearfishers are reporting plenty around the usual haunts.

Providing the seas receive a bit of a stir-up, rather than the flat conditions lately, some fantastic drummer action should be available.

Ray Smith with his PB snapper on plastic.

Dean Heycox does it again with another quality snapper off the stones.

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