January is an exciting time of year for many who love sport. Cricket and tennis hit their domestic peaks and the sport fishing options available in the Hastings region make for a fantastic month.
Recently I ran into some mates whom I hadn’t seen fishing for some time. They said the Hastings River had been fishing better than for a very long time and these guys know how to fish!
With some consistent weather this month, things should improve further.
After torrential rains and repeated flooding throughout 2009, the rivers have bounced back in sensational form.
With whiting coming on the bite, flathead on the hunt, bream lurking in the snags and the weed beds growing back, things are looking good for a great start to 2010.
Whiting this month will be a primary target for me and within 25 minutes’ drive from home I have a plethora of venues to target them.
From the flats around Rawdon Island in the Hastings to Watson Taylors Lake on the Camden Haven, and Lake Cathie in between, the region is a whiting smorgasbord.
Best baits will be live worms without a doubt, drifted over the flats or fishing deep over the ledges of drop-offs. For bait fishing this month try early morning or late afternoons at Blackmans Point and the flats around the small island west of Dennis Bridge.
If you want to try your hand at whiting on lures then you can go past a clear popper or pencil.
The No 1 lure on the Hastings and Camden Haven rivers is the Bassday Sugapen by a long shot fished over flats and ripped and twitched continuously to imitate a fleeing prawn. Just remember to take what you need, not your limit.
Action offshore has been red hot when conditions have been favourable.
Snapper are proving they are not predominantly Winter species. Chris and Danielle Blanch have been ripping into the reds offshore, and the rule of thumb that Blanchy always swears by is the change of the tide and 7” plastics.
The colour of the lure is no real big factor; he likes to switch all the time.
This month snapper should still be a very viable proposition with the Yabbies reef (S31˚32.800, E152˚56.190) and Petersons (S 31˚33.619, E152˚56.632) the best reef options this month.
Other offshore species this month will be tuna, marlin, mackerel and mahi mahi, with the water north of the bar probably better over January.
A stop-off at the bait grounds about a nautical mile north of the bar (S31˚24.611, E152˚55.428) to collect slimy mackerel should prove to be most worthwhile.
In the deeper waters, pearl perch, mulloway and the odd kingfish will be possible and could well and truly round out some nice bags.
Off the beaches, whiting should be prolific with Lighthouse Beach and Dunbogan the best beaches with live worms and pipis the gun baits.
School mulloway will be also in good numbers and willing to take similar baits, although if you’re heading out to target them specifically then Berkley 6” sandworms are hard to beat.
If you’re looking to hop the rocks for luderick and bream then Miners Beach and Tacking Point Lighthouse will be excellent spots. Mulloway should also be on the cards.
If you’re going to fish the rocks, make absolutely sure you check the conditions, let someone know where you’re going and don’t go alone. Take extreme care, especially of there’s a swell running.
If you’re looking for a feed of flathead this month then you basically have two options.
Head offshore east of the bar and drop baits or soft plastics in around 50m and you should do extremely well on sand flathead and some other species of flatties.
Or you can work the banks of the river for dusky flathead.
Pelican Island will be a good hunting ground for the flathead, with Back Channel also promising. Live poddy mullet will be the best baits and give you a great opportunity of snaring bigger fish, but for the table fish, 3” to 5” soft plastics will be sufficient.
When castings plastics for flathead, look for spots with changes in depth and plenty of flow. Creek mouths, gutters and drains can also be good spots to pull a few nice fish.
If you’re visiting the Hastings Region this month, try the variety of different waterways and enjoy the delights on offer. From the upper reaches of the Camden Haven, the beaches of Port Macquarie or the deep banks of the Maria River, the area has plenty to offer the angler so make sure you give yourself some time to explore.Reads: 855