It certainly has dropped a few degrees, and this is the start of my favourite time of the year for fishing Lake Macquarie. The air temps are right down and the water temps are starting to drop really quickly. There are plenty of reasons to load the boat and hit the water from May for the next few months.
Generally you will find the boat traffic will drop right off due to the cooler temperatures, and you will also notice a big increase in bait activity in the deeper parts of the lake and this will also mean some great fishing in these same deeper sections. Sure, you might need to throw on an extra layer or two of clothing, but trust me, it’s well worth it.
This time of the year is the start of some great local fishing. I really concentrate on that deeper water around the 6-10m mark and work the bait balls. The bait is usually schools of tailor and the predators are generally mulloway and large flathead. You will find the mulloway working the edges of these bait balls and the flathead should be in good numbers under the schools feeding on all the scraps that are dropping to the bottom.
I like using soft plastics around 4-6” and I prefer the paddle-tail style plastics for this type of fishing. I like a jighead with a hook size of 3/0-5/0 and usually a weight of 3/8oz if there is no wind around, but I will use whatever weight is needed to get down, even if that means a 1oz weight jighead. In the latter case, I will stop spinning lures and start jigging them as I drift. Don’t be afraid of fishing when the wind is up, I simply deploy a sea anchor, up my jig weights and enjoy the fruits.
If you are specifically wanting to target a mulloway, then you should go a little lighter on the weight of your jigheads and work the edges of these bait balls. I like to stick with a 3/8oz jighead if I can, as the slower sinking lures will often get that mulloway bite midwater. Most mulloway are not huge, with the majority in the 70-100cm range, but certainly still great fish by any standards.
Bream fishing is still very good during the cooler months, and although methods such as topwater luring are less effective, that doesn’t mean the fish are not there. As the water cools, the fish simply move to deeper locations like many of the bays and inlets throughout the lake. Soft plastics and blades are very effective at this time of year.
I don’t completely rule out the flats, but I’m more selective with when I fish them. For example, if there is a nice southerly change coming through and it’s a cloudy miserable day, these are ideal conditions for the flats, even during the cooler months and I’ll spend many good sessions throwing small shallow diving hardbodies over the flats on these days.
Offshore fishing has slowed down for most of the game fishing crews, which is probably not a bad thing for them as they have had an exceptional run of fish this past summer, so it’s a good time of year for many to get their tackle and boats maintained a little and start prepping for next season. There should be a few tuna about but these fish are generally very wide off our part of the coast and often it’s only the place for the larger boats. For anglers looking to find a few tuna, I suggest trolling a spread of skirted game lures and trolling at a speed of around 7 knots. Lures in the 6-8” range and colours such as pinks and greens work very well on tuna.
There are some great kingfish about on the offshore deep reef systems. Deep set live baits are scoring some very solid fish and jigging deep has been scoring reasonable numbers of fish from as far north as Port Stephens down south to waters off Terrigal. There are also some nice table fish on offer and many anglers these days are opting for electric reels for their deep water explorations and for good reasons.
There are some fantastic grounds way offshore and they are home to some very tasty critters. In the past, many anglers simply give up due to the depth of waters these fish are in, however, now with electric reels far more effective and affordable they are really unlocking a new fishery for many anglers.
Shark anglers are still finding reasonable numbers and although the days can be long, cold and uncomfortable, it only takes one good fish to make it worth their while. It’s been a great year for shark anglers in these waters with many huge captures including a pending world record for the crew of Redemption and I’m sure there are still many more big fish to come this year.
Again, more lives continue to be lost off local rock ledges. There are fish about the rocks at the moment including some really good bream in the washes taking lightly weighted peeled prawns, but please, keep in mind the weather conditions. Unfortunately the odds are the next rock angler’s life lost here will not be the last. Please stay vigilant; don’t go out in bad weather and never fish alone off the rocks.Reads: 621