It’s hard to fail
  |  First Published: February 2010

This time of year, there are few reasons why you shouldn’t be able to catch a feed of fish. The estuary is alive with bream, flathead, and the beaches and rocks have a variety of options to keep most anglers occupied.

Even though it is not the premium time for pigs, there have been some good fish around the rocks and I have noted big schools of blackfish hugging the washes.

The fish activity along the rocks is generally at its best this time of year and an increase in pelagic activity close inshore will have the fishable platforms peppered by the spin and live-bait brigades.

Just off the surf line along the beaches there have been schools of bonito carving up whitebait and pilchards.

The pilchards have been sneaking into the lower end of the lake, too, which has kept the chopper tailor frantic.

Other baitfish available in the Forster boat harbour include the odd slimy mackerel and I saw a big school of 70mm-80mm yellowtail hanging around the wharf. They would be a great size for jew or flathead.

With the water so clear at the lake’s entrance at high tide, it pays to chase dirtier water further into the lake and its tributaries.

The bream on surface lures and bait in the Wang Wauk and Coolongolook rivers have been increasing in numbers and size with fish of 35cm actively hunting along with the throngs of smaller fish.

Persistence with lures will pay off and some good bags of fish are just a matter of time and effort.

Flicking lures like soft plastic minnows along the shorelines of the rivers will also produce some great flathead, and even whiting. Flathead of 50cm to 60cm are common and are a good distraction in the more heavily-fished weekend spots.

Weed flats behind Wahoo Island and further down in front of the Sailing Club have been producing some good bream but the ever-present fanbelly leatherjackets make short work of plastics.

I have taken to having a rod rigged with a small sneck hook and split shot ready on the deck of the boat and as the jackets follow my lure in, I drop it down in front of them.


They can’t resist and I love eating leatherjackets. It’s a bit like the soft plastic angler’s revenge!

Flathead in the lower lake have been pretty good lately. The odd large female has been caught and released, which should be encouraged.

The Tuncurry Channel has been the main spot for big flathead and early mornings, the chopper tailor can be thick.

The channel has also produced a lot of whiting, as have the sand flats around the bridge. Live yabbies and worms are best, although the fish are still chasing surface lures albeit with less enthusiasm than last month.

The number and size of the blackfish appearing around the lake is incredible. Fish over a kilo seem to be under every oyster lease and in every weed bed you pass. I have even taken an increasing number on soft plastics fished for bream around the outer posts of the lease boundaries.

If you are looking for something different, such as a feed of flounder, Smiths Lake is the place to head.

The shallow, often landlocked waters of Smiths lends themselves to the perfect flounder fishery as well as some very fat flathead and whiting.

Attracting big garfish and mullet is only a matter of spreading around a bit of bread berley, so the options available for a great day are all in place.

Blue swimmers and mud crabs have been good through the lake, though some ‘share farming’ during the recent holidays was a problem.

One pro who zip-ties his trap hatches reported that many of them were cut when he checked them. It should be safer to set a pot or some nets this month.


The cleaning table at Forster has seen plenty of scales and I’ve not seen pelicans so uninterested in eating as I have lately.

One boat had two mahi mahi of about 6kg on the table while others cleaned a variety of pearl perch, snapper and flathead.

There should be some kingfish and tuna skirting the coastline, too, with the odd cobia. All will be hunting the bonito and shoals of bait.

The Lucky Bastard Award this month goes to Chris Maconachie – again! His giant herring a month or so ago has been backed up with a 10.6kg snapper off Black Head.

Yeah, he’s lucky to catch a trophy fish like that but on a 2000 size Shimano Sustain, 6lb braid and a 5” Slam Bait that has been sitting in the bottom of his tackle bag for 2 years kind of multiplies the ‘lucky bastard’ factor a tad. Good luck to him and I can’t wait to see what he pulls out next month.

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