This time of year, thoughts that had been relegated to memories from last season slowly start to be revived.
The clear, warm water we associate with the Summer season has returned and with it will come the spawning aggregations of sand whiting in the lower section of the lake and entrance around the bridge.
And with the warm water comes the first of the significant prawn runs during the dark of each month, from now until April.
With the prawns comes an expectation of the fish and they congregate in the channels and sand flats where they can take advantage of passing food.
During the spawning aggregation the sand whiting are aggressive and hungry and will respond well to live yabbies, beach worms and, of course, prawns.
They also become very easy to catch on surface poppers around 50mm long.
Areas like channel edges, where weed fringes dip onto a sandy edge, are good but don’t neglect deeper channels where a tidal run develops.
The whiting aren’t scared to come off the bottom in 4m of water. I have seen and caught whiting while they chase schools of whitebait through the surface on a run-out tide.
They do get worked up and there often are 10 or more fish in a pack, all hunting.
The increased competition for food in the lake makes it easier to catch fish – theoretically.
An increasing number of flathead over the sand flats will delight the anglers who love to wade and cast the shallows.
If the lead into this month is any indication, there should be quite a few large female flatties haunting the flats and channels as they prepare to spawn over the next couple of months.
While many big flathead fall to trophy hunters and are killed each year, we should remember that without these large, breeding females, the productivity of any estuary is diminished. So keep fish in the 45cm to 50cm range for the table and take a few photos of any big girls you are lucky enough to catch and then let them go.
There are other distractions in the lake around the oyster leases and weed beds –bream, big blackfish, garfish and mullet and all have their own followers.
The blackfish have been tormenting anglers in the lake since August and the bream will get better as the water warms up.
The sand mullet and garfish are a good seasonal change of scene if you want to collect some great bait or a feed of delicate fillets.
The end of this month should mean steadily increasing numbers of blue swimmer crabs becoming more active in the lake, with the muddies not too far behind as the water warms more.
Wallis Lake is the ideal blue swimmer fishery, with vast flats of ribbon weed and shallow sand patches, so do yourself a favour and plant a few witches’ hats along the weed edges at the back of the lake.
Remember, that there is a five-net limit per person and they have to be marked clearly with your address or fishing licence number. The marking of your floats also reduces the risk of mistaking other crabbers’ nets for yours, and they mistaking yours for theirs.
The solid run of big snapper has surprised many and the trag and pearl perch that have been around are very welcome.
If you intend to head south along the coast, be well aware of the sanctuary boundaries because you will be risking hefty fines for infringements – the area is patrolled.
We should see a drop in the numbers of leatherjackets offshore; the Winter harvest included jackets to 2kg.
An increase in flathead numbers is to be expected, along with an early run of bonito and the predators that follow them along the coast.
The weather and rain over the early part of the year has done the Mid North Coast bass population the world of good and the rivers are in top condition.
A recent trip with Steve Starling produced a good number of fish with many of 40cm-plus and one fish that measured 52cm fork length.
The bass were not overly active, with most of the fish falling to soft plastics bounced and crawled along the bottom.
‘The mullet movement and accumulation up the river is generally the signal that the bass will be pushing up into their freshwater homes.
I plan on being on the water a whole lot more this coming season with the delivery of a new 5.2m SF Blitz LamotteCraft. This purpose-built sportfishing or ‘bream’ boat is a godsend and a perfect fishing platform. The 100hp sterndrive makes it very different from the usual boat with an oversized outboard cowl sitting on the transom like a huge, bloated tick.
I’ll do a full report and test on her as soon as the novelty of catching fish and tooling around the lake wears off just a little.Reads: 1941