In spite of all the weather and seasonal indicators that promised great action over the Winter, the fishing has been patchy – even the whales have been a bit disappointing.
There have been some glimmers of greatness and also some appalling adventures that just wasted time and bait. I guess it’s not an exact science and the fish can switch on and off like a light at times but I do hope the months ahead are going to provide some hot bites.
One group which has been faring reasonably well is the blackfish chasers. There have been some good fish lurking around the lower leases in the lake with many anglers tying up to lease poles and drifting their floats along the washboards and barriers.
The many weedy edges and channel drop-offs have also produced blackfish, some nudging a kilo.
Along with the blackfish, weed beds and channel drop-offs with a hint of current have also produced a few big leatherjackets, both spined and fan-belly.
The jackets are extremely good eating and a cinch to catch. And you will also be making every soft plastic bream angler very happy!
A paternoster rig with a two-hook drop is the go with No 4 long-shanked hooks baited with squid or other tough bait. Cooked prawns, peeled and cut into small pieces to cover the hook point, are sufficient to tempt these ravenous fish.
You should expect a range of undersized fish like immature snapper, bream and toads but, given time, the jackets will muscle in on the bait eventually.
One area I have found particularly effective is the eastern side of Wallis Island south of the runway wharf. The undercut along the shore of Wallis Island is reasonably deep and a smattering of cockle and other weed holds the jackets’ attention.
Be warned, though, the area has a few big estuary cod hunting the edges and they can snatch the little cocky bream and charge off with them.
Further around the northern end of Wallis Island, the leases have been holding big bream although I suspect they are fish on the move and are to spread through the system. At this time of year the fish do play a game of musical leases, moving in from the coast and as the water warms they push further up into the tributaries.
I have had reports of good numbers of bream coming in of an evening, continuing last month’s efforts, but the weather is still not quite warm enough for me to brave a night on the lake.
Small flathead up to around 50cm will make more of an appearance from now on and they will have been noticed as by-catch while fishing for bream with lures.
The seawall has had its share of blackfish and the points have been surrendering the odd pig and big bream. I don’t know if too many anglers have had success with the school jew but there is no reason a fresh or live bait drifted in the channel wouldn’t work.
There have been schools of tailor patrolling the seawalls and the deeper water in front of Tuncurry fish co-op. Bait fishos have been picking them up but spinning is a little hit-and-miss unless you have plenty of time to kill. The early morning rising tide seems to have been the best.
Offshore, leatherjackets have dominated the reef fishing with hooks and entire rigs being snipped off by their huge pincer teeth.
Just like their inshore cousins, the reef-dwelling leatherjackets are great eating, even though they are not prized targets like pearl perch, snapper or trag.
While the bigger snapper may be tapering off this month they will still be available deep offshore with some pan-size squire still kicking around in the shallows.
The presence of a lot of small kingfish along the rocks augurs well for the species to provide Summer sport if you are so inclined. An early showing of small bonito will have the larger kings and marlin in tow as the warmer water trickles down the coast.
With the first bass closed season over it should be a great season, with plenty of fish spawning this year.
The regular flooding in the region has provided the best start for the season too, the benefit of which will be seen in four or five years as the offspring mature.Reads: 720