Scratching the surface
  |  First Published: December 2009

With a New Year upon us, it’s time to adjust for the holiday masses and search out the spots less fished.

I think the fish adjust to all the boat traffic and I know the flathead are not too concerned with the noise. I actually pulled a few pan-size fish from behind swimmers opposite the boardwalk in Forster the other day.

The only thing I can think is the fish were following disturbance created by the swimmers and were anticipating food.

I was throwing a clear 1/4oz DOA clear shrimp at the time and the fish reacted to the natural forage imitation.

Talking of prawns, the dark of the moon sees a stream of boats anchored right along Breckenridge Channel. Regardless of the hour of the run-out tide, the boats are there and their occupants are dipping away at the channel prawns drifting on the current.

Reports suggest that the channel prawns have been fair to good, depending on your positioning, so if you intend to dip your net get a spot early.

With the increase in visitor numbers it pays to get on the water early before the jet skiers and touring craft.

Wallis Lake is large enough to escape much of the traffic and what you are chasing will dictate where you end up.

For bream lure anglers, the cockle beds around Yahoo Island and Coomba Bay are well worth targeting with surface lures and Chubby-type hardbodies.

Bream hanging around these areas can be up to 1.5kg so be warned – you could lose some lures around the weedy structure.

There have been some big bream holding on the floating racks south of Regatta Island and over the weed flats beyond Snake Island, too.

The Spring influx of bream off the coastline have been making their way throughout the system and the predators have been chasing the baitfish up the rivers. The butter prawns are skipping everywhere, mostly with something chasing them.

Along with the bream we have a strong migration of whiting to the beaches. Small schools of large whiting are evident along the beaches and worms or yabbies are great baits to tempt them.

I’m told Smiths Lake has been fishing well for flathead with the mandatory small fish (great for the future of the fishery) making up the numbers between keepers.

Chartreuse double-tailed grubs and DOA Shrimps dragged around the shallow edges will draw results and the deeper edges will produce larger fish.

The lake is subject to a part marine park exclusion zone and there are always water skiers buzzing around.


Wallis Lake provides a bounty of seafood and apart from prawns, the blue swimmers and mud crabs are well worth finding.

Make sure you have your nets well marked and don’t leave them in the channels or narrow access areas.

The vast weedy areas of the lake provide ample opportunity to set a few witches’ hats prior to a day’s fishing on the lake.

My advice is to collect them before dark or they may be subject to ‘share farming’ from other crabbers or destruction from the large rays that haunt the lake.

Rock fishing has been a little tough up to this month although those who have persisted have been rewarded with mixed bags.

The increased activity along the rocks will include small schools of chopper tailor and bonito.

Bream, garfish and other bait will increase the likelihood of kings and, as the water warms, big cobia.

Offshore, the snapper have been patchy but when you find them they will be in numbers. A few anglers are reporting snapper to 60cm with trag, a pearl perch or two and the mainstay, flathead.

The rain a few months ago has shaped up the freshwater rivers in the area very well. The next few months will see the best conditions to get out and have a go at surface luring for bass.

After the heat of the day cools to a balmy evening, there is little I enjoy more than throwing surface lures for bass across snags and weed fringes in the freshwater.

The upper reaches of the Manning, Wallamba and Wang Wauk are all worth an afternoon or two. It’s a great way to escape the crowds too, so keep it in mind.

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