We have certainly enjoyed some great summer weather this year, a bit too much of it for great fishing. Lots of calm, sunny days; the sun has been warm and the water is, too. Almost all our winds have come from the north-east, which bring the blue-bottles in but not much else.
The fishing, over this lovely spell of good weather, has been predictably quiet. The trick has been to know where to go and when. Look for good, deep holes and some fresh, in-coming tidal flow. Up at Whitepatch, in some of the deeper sections, there have been some big snap-offs. Keith had a good day there, trying to land something but just losing a lot of bait! There have been some trevally and snapper landed at Whitepatch over the past couple of weeks - mostly undersized but occasionally decent catches. Be aware – an undersized snapper might look a little like a bream. If your bream is pinkish with blue spots, it is a SNAPPER and must be AT LEAST 35cm long.
Under the bridge has been a useful spot to pull up for casting a line; the shade offered by the bridge is good for the fish and fisher alike. Of course, the best time under the bridge has been at the turn of the tide; over the past few days, coming up off low-tide has seen a few hungry bream - and good sizes among them. Pilchards have been the favoured bait for bream but prawns have been also been handy. Also hanging around the bridge, during slower tidal movement, is a type of mottled fish which has a small mouth. This is a black trevally, or happy moment, so called because of its treacherous spines, which can cause a lot of pain if you’re not careful. The happy moments are actually a lovely, placid fish that likes to move in herds, nibbling at the pylons, much nicer-natured than the greedy bream; almost too nice to eat!
Jack has said that the only fish worth targeting, at the moment, are mackerel. The bridge has been a good place to find them, too. A few days ago, with the morning low-tides, has been a great chance to go for the mackerel, with some good catches being the reward for an early start. Not for Jack though, unfortunately - he has gone back at school.
A little further out beyond the Passage, the mackerel have been schooling up and feeding on baitfish. A good bit of splashing and a few birds overhead will show you the way, then cast with a lure in amongst them, just near the edge of the action. Fish-shaped lures are the go and, usually, the shinier, the better!
Flathead are one fish that hasn’t minded the warmer weather. They do like cold mornings and a rising pressure but also enjoy high pressure and calm weather. The only other thing needed to get them going is an incoming tide, washing over the shallows and a little breeze to stir it up. So, perfect weather lately, then, for drifting up into the creeks and casting out with a soft plastic or a piece of squid. Most of the keeper-sized flathead have been muddies but there have also been plenty of sand flathead south of the bridge, being caught on the drift north, between the green markers.
While there may be less excitement than usual in the fishing world, there have been great sightings of dolphins, dugongs, turtles and sea-birds. A few of the crews from our boat-hire have enjoyed watching a mother and baby dugong, usually at the north end of Whitepatch. So, there are still plenty of good reasons to get out on or beside the water.
The long-range weather forecasts promise just a few scattered days of rain over February. It’s been a long wait for our summer storms, which should be bringing south-easterly winds, cooler afternoons and some rain to cool the water a little and hopefully muddy the estuaries up a bit. When it does happen, watch out – the fish and the crabs will be jumping into the boat!